Physical Therapist

Nature of Work

  • Identify physical conditions that interfere with a student's educational program.
  • Conduct assessments of mobility skills, daily activities, positioning and posture during activities in the school environment, muscle strength, and sensorimotor performance .
  • Collaborate with professionals, other education and health professionals, and parents to determine physical therapy goals that will allow the child to benefit from the individualized instructional program.
  • Advise on purchase of specialized equipment and modifications to the classroom and home.
  • Develop recreation and leisure programs for older students.
  • Advocate for environments that are physically accessible.

Education Required

  • A bachelor's degree in physical therapy is the minimum requirement, however by the year 2002 a graduate degree will be required.
  • All states require a license to practice. This license is awarded when candidates pass a state-administered national exam.

Personal Qualities

  • Patient
  • Self-assured
  • Resourceful
  • Able to work with a variety of people
  • Excellent listening and communication skills

Job Outlook and Advancement

  • Physical therapists are expected to be among the fastest growing occupations through the year 2006 as the demand for physical therapy services grows. (BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook 1998-99)
  • In 1997, school districts employed 4,345 fully certified/licensed physical therapists but had 342 vacancies

How to Prepare for a Career

  • Take a strong high school program in the sciences.
  • Maintain a strong competitive high school grade point average.
  • Volunteer in a physical therapy setting.
  • Seek information from the American Physical Therapy Association

Resource Information

American Physical Therapy Association
1111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314-1488

Personnel Issues in School-Based Physical Therapy: Supply and Demand, Professional Preparation, Certification and Licensure (PDF)
Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education