Demand for Therapy Jobs Critically High in 2012

Posted on January 29, 2012


Rehabilitation therapy is a diverse field within the healthcare industry. It includes both occupational and physical therapy. Occupational therapists work primarily with senior citizens, evaluating and improving their abilities related to physical maladies. While physical therapy is in close relation to occupational therapy, a physical therapist works more with treating specific injuries and diagnosing physical problems.

As a physical or occupational therapist, you would work with a wide range of people and injuries. One appointment could be with a toddler who needs help with developmental delays and the next might be with an injured veteran learning how to fulfill basic needs. Institutions that commonly hire physical and occupational therapists include hospitals, nursing homes, schools and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. Both jobs are in demand as we begin the New Year.

Physical Therapists Shortage Critical

A report from indicates that physical therapists (PTs) are among the most secure professionals in the healthcare industry, because supply fails to meet demand for their services practically everywhere. “There are pockets within the US where there are only five therapists within a 100-mile radius,” according to Eric Dickerson, managing director at recruiter Kaye/Bassman International.

If anything, the shortage will deepen, because the aging of physical therapists is dramatic. In 2000, 15.6 percent of PTs were between the ages 50 and 64; in 2010, 32 percent were in that age bracket, according to a report from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Unemployment among physical therapists remains remarkably low: In 2010, only 0.4 percent — one in 250 — of PTs seeking work were jobless.

“Nobody knows how accountable-care organizations and medical homes will shake out, but healthcare reform in general will decrease the number of uninsured, which will increase demand for PTs,” says Marc Goldstein, senior director of research for the APTA. “Physical therapy programs are being developed or expanded, so the current level of 6,000 graduates annually should creep up.”

Educational Preparation

In order to become an occupational or physical therapist, you must have a college degree. Most positions call for at least a master’s degree, coupled with at least 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork. Upon graduation, candidates must then pass a certification test to begin practicing in the workforce.

Job Stress and Activity Levels

Therapists work hard. They are often active throughout the day, as they meet the diverse needs of each patient. They must be able to switch quickly from one patient to the next, with often only a few minutes of transition in between. Some clients require more physical activity than others do. When it comes to stress, it depends on where you work and your personal attitude. Therapists need to be patient, as some clients show small increments of progress over long periods of time. If you enjoy your job, stress levels will most likely be lower than if you do not.

With so many potential jobs looming over the horizon, graduates of physical therapy schools should be careful to choose the right opportunity to set up a fulfilling lifetime career. recommends you consider the type of setting you prefer to work in. Would you rather work with kids in a school, or older folks in a nursing home? Ask about the team atmosphere at the facility. Will you be working closely with other therapists, or will you be on your own? Ask these important questions before you accept a position.


Posted in: Article, Jobs, Therapy