What's the Job Description of a Pediatric Physical Therapist?

Are you interested in working with children? Do you also have an interest in working in the medical field? If so, you might consider a job as a pediatric physical therapist. In this career, you'll provide physical therapy treatment to infants, children, and teens. Schools offering Physical Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Duties and Responsibilities

As a pediatric physical therapist, you will provide treatments to infant, child, and adolescent patients who have conditions that limit their physical abilities. You may help them learn to move their bodies correctly, make movements less painful, increase the function of injured body parts, and heal from injuries. As a part of treatment, you'll develop plans that outline goals and methods you will use during patient rehabilitation. You'll also assess your patients to ensure they are advancing and that treatment is working.

Important Facts About Pediatric Physical Therapists

Required Education Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
Professional Certification Voluntary; board certification available through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties
Key Skills Attention to detail, patience, manual dexterity, empathy, physical endurance, clear communication
Similar Occupations Physical therapists; advanced registered nurse practitioners; physical therapist assistants; anesthesiologists

Education Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to work as a physical therapist, you'll need to have a master's or doctoral degree in physical therapy (www.bls.gov). As part of your training and to gain experience in pediatrics, you may choose to complete a pediatric physical therapy residency. Job ads on Indeed.com reveal that employers typically prefer pediatric physical therapists who have experience working with children, which can come from a residency or internship in pediatrics.

Professional Requirements

The BLS reports that all states require physical therapists to be licensed. To earn licensure, you generally need to complete an accredited physical therapy program and pass the National Physical Therapy Exam. You may also have to pass a jurisprudence exam or other state-specific exams. Depending on the state, you may be required to complete continuing education regularly to maintain licensure.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, there were about 228,600 physical therapists employed in the nation in 2018. The projected job growth from 2016-2026 is 28% for physical therapists, according to the BLS. This growth projection is an effect of greater access to physical therapy services due to changes in insurance coverage and an increase in survival rates of newborns with birth defects who will eventually need physical therapy. Additionally, technological developments that lead to more treatment options for a wider range of conditions and government regulations that increase physical therapy services for school-aged children will spur demand for these professionals.

The BLS published the median annual salary earned by all types of physical therapists as $87,930 in May 2018. PayScale.com estimated that the majority of pediatric physical therapists' salaries fell in the range of around $51,000 - $81,000 as of April 2019.

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