How to become a Physiotherapist

Physiotherapists assess, treat and prevent disorders in human movement caused by injury and disease. Further into their career, physiotherapists can choose to practise in specific areas such as muscle and skeletal conditions, women's health, aged care, chest conditions, occupational health and safety, sports injuries, babies and young children, problems of the nervous system and spinal injuries, administration, education or research.

Personal requirements for 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. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.


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.

Duties & Tasks of a Physiotherapist

Physiotherapists:

  • 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.

Tasks

  • Recording treatments given and patients' responses and progress.
  • Reviewing, continually monitoring, assessing and evaluating programs and treatments.
  • Using the therapeutic properties of exercise, heat, cold, massage, manipulation, hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, ultraviolet and infra-red light and ultrasound in the treatment of patients.
  • Designing treatment programs to address patients' problems.
  • Consulting with other Health Professionals as required about patients' problems, needs and progress.
  • Instructing patients and their families in procedures to be continued at home.
  • Developing and implementing screening and preventative health promotion programs.
  • Administering muscle, nerve, joint and functional ability tests to identify and assess physical problems of patients.
  • Treating patients to reduce pain, improve circulation, strengthen muscles, improve cardiothoracic, cardiovascular and respiratory functions, restore joint mobility, and improve balance and coordination.

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.


Specializations

Physiotherapist

Physiotherapists assess, treat and prevent disorders in human movement caused by injury and disease. Further into their career, physiotherapists can choose to practise in specific areas such as muscle and skeletal conditions, women's health, aged care, chest conditions, occupational health and safety, sports injuries, babies and young children, problems of the nervous system and spinal injuries, administration, education or research.

  • Average age
    Average age
    35 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Very strong
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    67% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    42 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,444
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    63% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    25,000 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 1.8%
    NSW: 30.5%
    NT: 0.6%
    QLD: 19.7%
    SA: 8.6%
    TAS: 1.8%
    VIC: 25.3%
    WA: 11.8%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.1%
    20-24: 9.6%
    25-34: 39.8%
    35-44: 22.4%
    45-54: 15.7%
    55-59: 6.6%
    60-64: 3.7%
    65 and Over: 2%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 2.6%
    Bachelor degree: 63.8%
    Below Year 10: 0%
    Certificate III/IV: 0.2%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 32.4%
    Year 10 and below: 0%
    Year 11: 0%
    Year 12: 0.9%
    Years 11 & 10: 0%
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