How to become a Physiotherapist

Physiotherapists assess, treat and prevent disorders in human movement caused by injury and disease.

Personal requirements of a Physiotherapist

  • Patience
  • An interest in people and their health
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Good communication skills

Education & Training for a Physiotherapist

To become a physiotherapist you usually have to complete a degree in physiotherapy at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry, earth and environmental science and physics are normally required. You may also be required to attend an interview. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in physiotherapy. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Physiotherapist

Physiotherapists may perform the following tasks:

  • assess the physical condition of patients to diagnose problems and plan appropriate treatment
  • use a range of techniques to strengthen and stretch muscles and joints to improve patient mobility (such as massage, hydrotherapy, breathing and relaxation techniques)
  • perform spinal and peripheral joint mobilisation and manipulation
  • use equipment such as heat packs, ice packs, exercise equipment, ultrasound and electrotherapy to ease pain, reduce swelling and improve range of movement
  • retrain patients to walk or teach them to use devices such as walking frames, splints, crutches and wheelchairs
  • educate patients, their families and the community to prevent injury and disability and to lead healthy lifestyles
  • plan and implement community fitness programs
  • maintain patient records.

Working conditions for a Physiotherapist

Physiotherapists may work as part of a healthcare team, independently in private practice or as industry consultants.

Employment Opportunities for a Physiotherapist

Physiotherapists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, community health centres, mental health services, rehabilitation centres, private practice clinics, within the school systems, government departments and universities. Physiotherapists can also work in managerial and research positions or as consultants. Continued emphasis on sport and fitness, occupational health and safety, and aged care has increased the demand for physiotherapists. Opportunities also exist to become self-employed in private practice or to work part time.

Additional Information
Before undertaking clinical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate and immunisations, and undergo a Working with Children Check. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. It is a legal requirement for graduates to be registered with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia before being able to practise as a physiotherapist in any state or territory in Australia. For full details, see the Physiotherapy Board of Australia's website.
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