Physical Therapist

Physical Therapist Job Description


Physical therapists (PTs) work closely with clients, patients and their families to promote, restore and maintain overall wellness and fitness, the goal being a more active, more satisfying lifestyle. Physical therapists provide specialized services that help improve mobility, help improve or restore function, relieve pain and discomfort, and reverse or marginalize physical disabilities that result from disease or injuries. Patients that physical therapists work with may include the following:

  • Victims of accidents

  • Individuals with disabling diseases

  • Patients with acute or chronic low back pain

  • Victims of fractures

  • Patients with head injuries

  • Arthritis sufferers

  • Patients with heart disease

  • Children and adults with cerebral palsy




The PT will use the finding from this thorough examination and his or her evaluative judgment to determine a patient’s diagnosis and accompanying prognosis, and develop a plan of care that describes evidence-based strategies for treatment. The PT will also describe the functional outcomes expected from the treatment. The PT will include in the plan of care a determination of the patient’s projected ability to function independently and potential for reintegration into the community and workplace after illness or injury.

Some of the common tasks a physical therapist may be expected to perform include:

  • Taking the patient’s or client’s history

  • Conduct a review of systems exam

  • Perform tests and measures on strength

  • Assess range of motion

  • Evaluate balance and coordination

  • Assess posture and overall muscle performance

  • Evaluate respiration

  • Perform tests to measure motor function

  • Identify potential and existing problems




Physical Endurance

A PT must be able to be physical for many hours to help their patients as needed. They must be able to bend, twist, lift, crouch, kneel, push/pull, and the agility to move quickly and ensure patient safety.


Must be able to collect and integrate patient histories to solve problems and develop treatments.

Emotional Stability

Must be able to handle the emotional stress of working with impaired patients in need of compassionate health care.


The ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks simultaneously. 


Must be able to interact with patients and their families regardless of background.


Must be able to apply facts and principles to issues to determine conclusions and solve problems. They must use knowledge and logic to find patters in injuries and determine causes and provide solutions.


Must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas to gauge patient's issues and convey to them the best path to treatment.


Must be compassionate and able to empathize with a patient's pain and other difficulties. They are able to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves and let people know they care.


They must understand it takes time to see results and be willing to put in that time. They also must help their clients have patience--especially if they are trying to overcome a difficult injury.


Must be able to use knowledge to gauge issues and determine the best route to recovery.


Must work well with your hands and be nimble. You will be put in situations where physical therapy is a must.


Working Conditions


Physical therapists (PTs) may find opportunities for employment in any of the following settings:

  • Hospitals

  • Home health agencies

  • Public or private outpatient clinics

  • Private doctor’s office or physical therapy offices

  • Public or private schools, colleges and universities

  • Fitness and sports facilities

  • Skilled nursing facilities

  • Assisted living centers

Most full-time physical therapists work a standard 40-hour week. This may include some evening and weekend or holiday rotations.

A physical therapy position can be physically demanding, requiring the PT to frequently kneel, stoop, crouch, lift or stand for long periods of time. Physical therapists are also expected to move heavy equipment around and lift patients when needed. They also assist patients with turning, standing and walking.




Salary Outlook