Employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 36 percent from 2012
to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Demand for physical therapy services will come from the aging baby boomers,
who are staying more active later in life than their counterparts of previous
generations. Older persons are more likely to experience heart attacks, strokes,
and mobility-related injuries that require physical therapy for
In addition, the incidence of patients with chronic conditions, such as
diabetes and obesity, is growing. More physical therapists will be needed to
help these patients maintain their mobility and manage the effects of chronic
Advances in medical technology have increased the use of outpatient surgery
to treat a variety of injuries and illnesses. Medical and technological
developments also are expected to permit a greater percentage of trauma victims
and newborns with birth defects to survive, creating additional demand for
rehabilitative care. Physical therapists will continue to play an important role
in helping these patients recover more quickly from surgery.
Furthermore, the number of individuals who have access to physical therapy
services may increase because of federal health insurance reform. Physical
therapists will be needed to assist these patients with rehabilitation and
treatment of any chronic conditions or injuries.
Job opportunities will likely be good for licensed physical therapists in all
settings. Job prospects should be particularly good in acute-care hospitals,
skilled-nursing facilities, and orthopedic settings, where the elderly are most
often treated. Job prospects should be especially favorable in rural areas,
because many physical therapists live in highly populated urban and suburban
work environments for physical therapists
Physical therapists held about 204,200 jobs in 2012 according the Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S. Department of Labor) Physical therapists
typically work in private offices and clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes.
The industries that employed the most physical therapists in 2012 were as
Private Outpatient Offices
Hospitals; state, local, and private
Home health care services
Nursing and residential care facilities
Offices of physicians
Physical therapists spend much of their time on their feet, working with
patients. Because they must often lift and move patients, they are vulnerable to
back injuries as their patients. However, therapists can limit these risks by their knowledge of the craft and using proper body mechanics
and lifting techniques when assisting patients.