If you have ever had an injury or become disabled, you have likely worked with a physical therapist (PT). He or she was the professional who helped you regain strength and improve movement during your rehabilitation, the one who patiently but firmly coaxed you along the road to recovery. Physical therapy is not only critical to patient care, but makes a terrific career if you like to help people and appreciate the value of one-on-one interaction.
According to the Unites States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for physical therapists, assistants and aides is one of the highest among all professions. Between 2010 and 2020, demand for physical therapists is expected to grow by 39%, for their assistants and aides by 45%, all far outpacing the 14% national average for all occupations. That means that the income is excellent too: A median in 2010 of $76,000 annually for physical therapists, $50,000 for PT assistants and $24,000 for PT aides.
If you think this is the field for you, you may want to start out as a physical therapist aide working in a clinical setting under the direction of a PT. Aides generally have high school diplomas and receive on-the-job-training. Their work is focused on keeping the clinical environment clean and well supplied so that the PTs and PTAs (Physical Therapist Assistants) can work without interruption. Working as an aide is an excellent opportunity to be exposed to all facets of the field and determine if it fits your interests and talents.