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Physical Therapists Job Outlook

Employment of physical therapists is expected to increase 39 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Demand for physical therapy services will come, in large part, from the aging baby boomers, who are staying active later in life than previous generations did. Older persons are more likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes, and mobility-related injuries that require physical therapy for rehabilitation.

Advances in medical technology have increased the use of outpatient surgery to treat a variety of injuries and illnesses. Physical therapists will continue to play an important role in helping these patients recover more quickly from surgery.

Medical and technological developments also are expected to permit a greater percentage of trauma victims and newborns with birth defects to survive, creating additional demand for rehabilitative care. In addition, the incidence of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, has increased in recent years, and more physical therapists will be needed to help patients manage the effects of these diseases.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities will likely be good for licensed physical therapists in all settings. Job opportunities should be particularly good in acute hospital, skilled nursing, and orthopedic settings, where the elderly are most often treated. Job prospects should be especially favorable in rural areas because many physical therapists live in highly populated urban and suburban areas.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition