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Physical Therapist

Physical therapists provide services that help restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities of patients suffering from injuries or disease. They restore, maintain, and promote overall fitness and health. Their patients include accident victims and individuals with disabling conditions such as low-back pain, arthritis, heart disease, fractures, head injuries, and cerebral palsy.

Hours: Most full-time physical therapists worked a 40-hour week; some worked evenings and weekends to fit their patients' schedules.

Opportunities: About 6 out of 10 physical therapists worked in hospitals or in offices of physical therapists. Other jobs were in the home health care services industry, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, and offices of physicians. Some physical therapists were self-employed in private practices, seeing individual patients and contracting to provide services in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing care facilities, home health care agencies, adult day care programs, and schools. Physical therapists also teach in academic institutions and conduct research.

Pay: Median annual earnings of physical therapists were $66,200.

Training: Individuals pursuing a career as a physical therapist usually need a master's degree from an accredited physical therapy program and a State license, requiring passing scores on national and State examinations.

Citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition , Physical Therapists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos080.htm (visited July 22, 2009 ).

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