Odds are you found this article because you’re considering a career in Physical Therapy. If you are seeking a career focused on helping others reach their full potential, you should consider all the pros and cons of being a physical therapist.
Let’s start at the very beginning. What does a Physical Therapist do exactly?
Physical Therapists focus on three main facets of medical practice:
- Examining the patient’s condition
- Making a diagnosis
- Coming up with and executing a treatment plan
Note that treatment plans are very unique. Even patients with the same ailment or injury will nearly always will require their own specific plan.
As with any career, you will find the good and the bad. We can assure you the “good” list is much longer when you weigh the pros and cons of a career in physical therapy.
- Perhaps the most notable pro is the exciting growth of the field.
- Or maybe you’ll love the flexible schedules.
- Your “number one pro” may be the fulfillment you get when a patient is fully rehabbed.
Regardless of how you rank the benefits, there are plenty of perks to enjoy throughout your physical therapist career.
In order to help you fully understand pros and cons of being a physical therapist, we will also share a few of the potential drawbacks you may find in this line of work.
Let’s dive into our list!
1. Great Pay
According to Salary.com, “The median annual Physical Therapist salary is $82,560, as of January 02, 2018, with a range usually between $76,050-$89,589”.
As a medical professional, your driving force is your empathy and willingness to care for those in need. That means your paycheck isn’t always the most important factor.
Even so, it’s nice to know one of the advantages of being a physical therapist is a great salary. This means you can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle and hopefully enjoy a pleasant work/life balance.
Speaking of work/life balance, we’ll be focusing on that as our next pro!
Before we can move on, we must point out a potential con as it relates to your income.
School is expensive.
The cost of your education is no small number. When choosing a career in Physical Therapy, schooling becomes a large cost that will most likely require a student loan. Should you choose to specialize, you will require additional education and take on more costs.
The comfortable salary will surely help pay off school debt!
2. Work/Life Balance
Depending on the type of work environment you prefer, you may be able to set yourself up for the kind of flexibility that lends to a balance between work and play. Many medical professionals do not have this luxury when working long hospital shifts for example.
As a Physical Therapist, you can choose to have your own practice, set your own hours, and schedule set lunch and break times.
This perk may seem minor, but it’s actually very important for your overall well being. Burnout is real in any profession, but it’s more prevalent in the medical community due to high-stress environments and little downtime during shifts.
If you choose to work in a hospital, this perk may not apply to you. Additionally, if you work in a high volume practice, your days will likely be busier and longer.
3. Variety of Environments
We touched briefly on some of the locations in which a Physical Therapist can practice, but this is worth a second look!
Physical Therapists have a wide variety of choices when it comes to their work environments. They say variety is the spice of life! This perk is especially notable for those who love to travel.
Did you know you can be a traveling Physical Therapist? This position is actually in very high demand as hospital systems and rehabilitation centers throughout the country seek PT professionals during peak seasons.
For example, consider the snowbird states (Florida, South Carolina, Arizona, New Mexico and more). These locations experience an uptick in senior population as retirees spend their winters in warmer climates. This means there is an increase in demand for PTs in a variety of locations! Traveling PTs often work with an agency such as MAS to secure desired assignments and maintain a steady flow of work.
If you prefer settling down in one place, you still have your pick when it comes to where you work. Physical Therapists can work in:
- Rehabilitation Centers
- Private Practices
Physical Therapists must obtain a license in each state they want to practice, and renew that license every two years. This can become slightly tedious for traveling professionals.
4. In-Demand Career Field
If you didn’t already know how in-demand Physical Therapy is, consider this:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that 71,800 PT jobs would be created by 2024!
Between longer life spans, an increase in chronic illness, and the wave of aging baby boomers, there is an ever-growing need for skilled Physical Therapists.
The demand for Physical Therapists is so high in fact, that job security is a given. In the current job climate, having a career you can count on is a perk you can never discount!
If there were a con relating to this pro, it could be that such demand may eat into your work/life balance. Once again, if this is important to you, we recommend either the travel profession or opening your own practice.
5. Health and Fitness
The day-to-day requirements of Physical Therapy are not only demanding on the patient but on the PT as well. Much of your time spent treating patients includes lifting, stretching and other physical movements that require a certain level of fitness.
The pro here is obvious: PTs are generally healthy, fit people!
In order to do the job to the fullest extent, maintaining a nutritional diet and getting enough sleep are key.
These three elements (movement, diet, and sleep) work together to keep your body strong and healthy. If you’re naturally inclined towards health (and you’re a medical professional, so you probably are), this is definitely a perk!
The role of nutrition in Physical Therapy is strong for you just as it is for your patients. In fact, the American Physical Therapy Association recently released a new initiative focused on exactly that! You can draw parallels about how your own health can benefit from techniques you teach your patients.
We must note that when it comes to the pros and cons of being a physical therapist, some may view the need for maintaining physical fitness as a potential con. The fact is, if you do not stay fit, it becomes quite difficult to fulfill your PT responsibilities.
6. Medical Knowledge
Being that Physical Therapists work with the entire body and all of its systems, these professionals are incredibly knowledgeable. There is no shortcut to becoming a Physical Therapist because of the many potential injuries and ailments PTs treat.
Because of this, Physical Therapists are known are highly educated, highly skilled professionals with vast medical knowledge.
If your interest is in healing, Physical Therapy may very well be the perfect career choice for you. Your schooling and ongoing certifications will ensure you have a detailed working knowledge of the body. Whereas many medical professionals specialize in one system or disease family, Physical Therapists are experts from head to toe.
We mentioned earlier just how much schooling goes into becoming a Physical Therapist, and we highlight that once again here as a potential con.
7. Job Satisfaction
We believe we saved the best for last! We know you don’t go into a job for the accolades, but there’s something to be said about loving what you do because of how it affects others.
Working as a Physical Therapist ensures you endless career satisfaction. The fact is, you’re helping injured patients return to a normal lifestyle. That’s incredible!
Your day-to-day workload includes slowly but surely guiding patients on their road to recovery. When it comes time to close a case, your patient is a new person – because of you. Talk about a fulfilling career choice.
We’ve included potential cons along with each pro throughout this article, but we’re sure you’ll agree, there is no corresponding con when it comes to the inner joy you experience when a patient can enjoy life thanks to your treatment.
It’s no secret that there are many pros and cons of being a physical therapist and that the pros certainly outweigh the cons!
To that end, here is a review of the many advantages of being a physical therapist:
- Great Pay
- Work/Life Balance
- Variety of Environments
- In-Demand Career Field
- Health and Fitness
- Medical Knowledge
- Job Satisfaction
What are the most notable Physical Therapist career pros and cons in your opinion?
Share with us in the comments below!