Physical Therapist Advancement Opportunities To Further Your Career

Major advancements in physical therapy

Physical therapist advancement opportunities

Here are some ways to advance your physical therapy career:

Expand your role as a physical therapy practice manager

Continuing to work with patients while also advancing your career is possible by working toward becoming a physical therapy manager. You might even be able to keep working with your current patients and coworkers if there is a position open for a new manager at your current practice. Additionally, you can search for openings at different physical therapy clinics to launch your managerial career in a different setting.

You must hire and train new employees in addition to supervising existing employees when you work as a physical therapy manager. This position necessitates concentrating on both business procedures and patient care. You might be qualified for this position if you have a degree in business or management or relevant experience. You can pursue a degree or take some business courses to increase your understanding if you don’t have any prior business experience.

Take on more responsibility as a rehabilitation services director

The duties of a rehabilitation services director are more varied than those of a physical therapy manager. Rehabilitation services directors are in charge of a larger practice or department, as opposed to managers who might work for a small practice.

Along with physical therapy, you might also be in charge of developing and carrying out treatment plans for occupational therapy, speech therapy, and counseling in this position. Although you don’t have to be an expert in every single field, directors of rehabilitation services should be able to manage a group of therapists and specialists and have a general understanding of all forms of therapy.

Open your own private practice

Opening one’s own practice is an additional choice for someone who wants to oversee a physical therapy practice. If you are a physical therapist with experience and self-assurance in your business abilities, think about how you want your practice to operate. You have a lot of freedom when you run your own business, so you can choose whether to establish a general practice or a specialty practice.

There are many other choices to be made, such as choosing a business model and deciding whether you want to collaborate with a partner. Though it requires careful consideration and preparation, starting a private practice can be a great way to advance your physical therapy career.

Become a certified hand specialist

Knowing how the hands work specifically is necessary to treat the hands after an injury or for a chronic condition. Become a hand specialist if you enjoy your work as a physical therapist and want to focus on a particular area. Since many daily tasks require the use of hands, this specialty is in high demand and can greatly benefit your physical therapy practice. Hand specialists are also trained to work with the entire arm, including the wrists, elbows, and shoulders, in addition to the hands.

4,000 hours of hand therapy experience and three years of physical therapy experience are needed to become a certified hand specialist. You can take the Hand Therapy Certification Commissions exam once you fulfill these requirements.

Specialize in geriatric physical therapy

You might take into consideration becoming a geriatric clinical specialist if you enjoy working with elderly patients. Given that many physical therapy patients are elderly, this is a good specialty to obtain. Geriatric specialists acquire knowledge on how to assist the elderly in managing aging-related pain and enhancing strength and mobility. Additionally, they learn how to care for patients who have recently undergone certain age-related surgeries or injuries, such as hip or knee replacements.

A residency program that has been approved by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), 2,000 hours of experience working with elderly patients, and passing the Geriatric Certified Specialist Exam are the requirements for becoming a geriatric clinical specialist.

Alter your career path as an orthopedic surgeon

You can change careers to become an orthopedic surgeon if you still want to work with patients and use your physical therapy training. Orthopedic surgeons assess, diagnose and treat patients for musculoskeletal problems. Orthopedic surgeons typically try using medications or physical therapy before considering surgery because these problems don’t always require surgery. However, orthopedic surgeons are trained to perform the corrective surgeries needed for many injuries and conditions.

Attending medical school and finishing an orthopedic surgery residency are prerequisites for becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Despite the fact that this career advancement requires the most time and effort, it can be extremely rewarding.

What are physical therapist advancement opportunities?

Opportunities for professional development as a physical therapist include any that let you expand your knowledge and influence in the industry. You may want to change your career path or focus on a particular area of physical therapy after working as a physical therapist for a number of years. Physical therapists have three main avenues for career advancement:

Specialize in a specific practice area

If you like being a physical therapist but want to advance your knowledge and education, you might think about specializing in a particular field of work. You have the option of earning a license to work as a certified specialist in the field of your choice because specific body parts, injuries, and age groups require specialized treatment.

Become a manager

Focusing on the business side of physical therapy is another choice for physical therapists. If you have been a physical therapist for a long time, you probably have a solid grasp of how physical therapy clinics function. You might think about working as a manager, starting your own business, or assuming a position like director of rehabilitation services. Although you can still interact with patients and work with them directly with this option, more managerial duties are involved.

Become a surgeon

Some physical therapists decide to pursue surgery as a field of study. Physical therapists frequently choose to specialize in orthopedic surgery because it relates to their work with physical therapy but also enables them to offer patients a more thorough course of treatment. If you’re looking for a bigger career change, this is a good option, but you’ll need to go to medical school and put in a lot of time in training.

How to advance your career as a physical therapist

Following are some actions you can take to advance your physical therapy career:

1. Choose which direction you want to take your career

Decide first what you want to concentrate on in your career. If you enjoy the business side of physical therapy, you can decide to advance your career by becoming a manager or practice owner. If working with patients is what you prefer, you might want to specialize in a particular practice area to improve your skills and broaden the range of work you can do. You might think about going into surgery if a more significant career change sounds preferable. Making a decision about your career direction enables you to plan your next move.

2. Pursue an ABPTS specialist certification

You can take an exam offered by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) if you want to specialize in a particular area of physical therapy. The ABPTS offers certifications in women’s health, sports medicine, cardiovascular and pulmonary medicine, clinical electrophysiology, geriatrics, neurology, oncology, orthopaedics, and wound management. Four one and a half hour sections make up the certification exam, which has an application fee.

3. Become a Credentialed Clinical Instructor

The Credentialed Clinical Instructor Program (CCIP) is another way to advance your physical therapy career. You can improve your teaching abilities through this APTA program so that you can instruct others in the field of physical therapy. Because it gives you the knowledge and abilities to manage staff and train employees, taking this course can be a good first step toward becoming a manager.

4. Get a business education

You can increase your business education if you want to manage others or start your own practice. Studying for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business or management is one choice. The APTA’s Private Practice Section offers courses about starting a private practice if you want to learn more about managing in the physical therapy sector. Their resources can give you specific information about how to launch and manage a physical therapy practice.


What are the advancement opportunities for a physical therapist?

What are physical therapist advancement opportunities?
  • Specialize in a specific practice area. …
  • Become a manager. …
  • Become a surgeon. …
  • Expand your role as a physical therapy practice manager. …
  • Take on more responsibility as a rehabilitation services director. …
  • Open your own private practice. …
  • Become a certified hand specialist.

How do physical therapists grow?

So, if you’re a PT and you’re ready to grow (or change) your career, then keep on readin’.
  1. Determine your trajectory. Without a blueprint, building a house is difficult or impossible.
  2. Refine your skillset. …
  3. Find a mentor. …
  4. Seek growth opportunities. …
  5. Network in your professional community.

What other careers are related to physical therapy?

Here are some careers similar to physical therapy:
  • Home health aides. National average salary: $29,801 per year. …
  • Pharmacy technician. National average salary: $30,167 per year. …
  • Exercise physiologist. …
  • Athletic trainers. …
  • Occupational therapy aide. …
  • Nutritionist. …
  • Rehabilitation counselor. …
  • Cardiovascular specialist.

What is the highest degree a physical therapist needs?

The entry level DPT is currently the norm for those looking to become physical therapists. Entry Level Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree Programs While master’s in physical therapy degrees were once acceptable, you now need a doctorate to become certified as a physical therapist.

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