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The basics
Study abroad : Subject Guides

How to become a Physiotherapist

What is physiotherapy? How much do physiotherapists make? What does a physiotherapist do? Here, we answer all of your questions about this field.

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Physiotherapy is a popular degree for students all over the world. It’s a much-needed profession in the field of medicine and a degree in this subject can lead on to a great career. If you’re considering this course, you may have a number of questions. We take a look at some of the top questions that students have.


What is physiotherapy?


The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists in the United Kingdom defines physiotherapy as the practice of helping to “restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability.” This means using methods including exercise and massage to help patients recover from injuries or cope with pain they might be experiencing.


Where do physiotherapists work?


Once you have become a physiotherapist, options for employment vary from working within public health, owning your own practice, or working with a sports team or organisation that requires the support or assistance of a physical therapist.


What makes being a physiotherapist rewarding?


Compared to other roles in the medical profession, being a physiotherapist can be relatively low stress: hours are flexible and you won’t be on call around the clock. Physiotherapists also get to see the active, positive changes they are making in a patient’s life over the course of their treatment. It is also very well paid, with a median salary of USD 81,030 in the USA, for example.


How long does it take to become a physiotherapist?


Typically an undergraduate physiotherapy degree will require three to four years of full-time studying, however this does not guarantee being able to practice professionally as a physiotherapist. Indeed, as with any medical professional roles there are more steps that need to be taken after graduation. In the US, this may take as many as six to seven years.


Is a degree all you need to become a physiotherapist?


No. A degree in physiotherapy / physical therapy (or in some cases in the USA, kinesiology) is not enough to guarantee that you will become a practicing physiotherapist / physical therapist. You will need a bachelor’s degree, a doctorate, an accreditation from a professional body, and in some cases a license to practice. This is why pursuing a career in physiotherapy / physical therapy can be both time consuming and very expensive.


What additional skills are required to be a good physiotherapist?


As with any career in the medical profession, care and empathy is as important as scientific knowledge: physiotherapists / physical therapists work with people who are suffering, and thus it is important to be able to empathise and show them respect as they go through their treatment. The role also requires a great degree of patience, as you may be dealing with patients who are ambivalent to their treatment initially.


Where can you work as a physiotherapist?


Physiotherapists / physical therapists can work in a variety of settings, whether in public health at hospitals or surgeries, for private organisations, or through establishing their own practices, an increasingly common option.


Where can you study Physiotherapy?


If you think you'd like to study physiotherapy in order to pursue a career in the field, there are around 350 institutions worldwide offering degrees to help you on your way. We've picked a few you might want to consider:


You can begin your journey into the physiotherapy profession by finding the right course for you here.

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