Entering the job market can be a daunting task in this day and age. We all want to find jobs that will allow us to support ourselves, but we'd also like to find the work we do rewarding. Putting in a full-time schedule can be draining if we don't enjoy what we're doing, or feel bored most of the day. With a rocky economy and high unemployment rates still fresh in recent memory, it can be especially comforting to be on a career path that has positive projections as well.
Many people find that the best way they can achieve all of those goals is to enter the health care industry. Taking care of patients, working in a field that requires constant learning and having in-demand skills can make for an ideal career to the right people. And projections certainly are positive for many positions – physical therapy in particular is an area of expertise that just seems to keep growing.
"Job growth in this field will increase 34 percent."
Growth prospects for physical therapy jobs
Physical therapists are at an advantage in today's market, and should continue to be for years to come. As the research and techniques of the industry continue to expand, physical therapy finds new ways to be relevant to a variety of demographics.
One group that finds increasing need for physical therapy is the 65 and older age bracket. PT programs are among the top treatments for injuries related to falls, for example, which is the No. 1 cause for all injuries to seniors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 3 million older adults were treated in emergency rooms for fall-related harm in 2014.
And this demographic is growing at a rapid rate – the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the number of Americans aged 65 to 74 will increase by 74 percent from 1990 to 2020. As a result, more seniors need physical therapy, and therefore, physical therapists, to treat age-related ailments and injuries than in years past.
This is just one of many reasons why job projections are expected to keep growing for physical therapists. Others include a growing understanding of sports injuries and the role of physical therapy in repairing athletes, and more comprehensive accommodations and treatment for children with disabilities while they're in school. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job growth in this field will increase 34 percent between 2014 and 2024, which classifies it as "much faster than average" for job expansion.
How physical therapy demands will help you
With the growing need for physical therapists, you'll have a wider range of career options. You can pick from a variety of clinics, schools or hospitals to work in, and a number of specialties you could focus on. You could choose nearly any location to live in and still find work, or if you wanted to experience a series of different locales, could easily take part in travel physical therapy jobs.
The demand naturally drives up the salary for this profession as well. According to the BLS, the average physical therapist took home $85,400 in 2016.
Salary and job growth are significant contributors to how well it ranks as a career – physical therapy placed 16th on the 100 Best Jobs 2017 list from U.S. News & World Report.
Because of the known increase in physical therapy jobs, more people are getting their degrees to enter this field, but not at a rate to cause significant competition. The American Physical Therapy Association reported that even as more physical therapists graduate into the workforce, there will still be unmet demands for filling PT roles.
Physical therapy jobs can become lucrative, rewarding and stable career paths for many more years to come if these trends continue, and so far, there's no sign they're stopping. You can take your time to find the perfect position for your interests and know that you have a future full of possibilities and options in this industry.