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Physiotherapist

Physiotherapists work with patients to improve their range of movement and promote health and wellbeing.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £22,000 to £41,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37.5 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need a physiotherapy degree or postgraduate award approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Relevant paid or voluntary experience may help you to get on a course. Health Careers, Do-it and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) have more information about getting work experience.

You could also gain experience through an apprenticeship.

If you're a physiotherapy assistant, you may be able to take a part-time degree in physiotherapy while you're working. CSP and HCPC have details of course providers.

You'll also need to pass background checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

If you've already got a relevant degree in biological science, psychology or sports science, you may be able to take a CSP approved fast-track postgraduate course.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent communication skills
  • good manual skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to be firm yet encouraging
  • organisational and administrative skills

3. What you'll do

You’ll be based in a hospital, health centre, nursing home, GP surgery or fitness centre. You may also visit patients in their own homes. 

Examples of day-to-day tasks may include:

  • helping patients with spine and joint problems
  • helping patients recovering from accidents, sports injuries and strokes
  • working with children who have mental or physical disabilities
  • helping older people with physical problems become more mobile

You’ll work in areas and departments like paediatrics, outpatients, intensive care, women's health and occupational health. In your work you’ll use treatments and techniques like:

  • physical manipulation and massage
  • therapeutic exercise
  • electrotherapy
  • ultrasound
  • acupuncture
  • hydrotherapy

You’ll keep accurate records of patients' treatment and progress. Working closely with other health professionals like nurses, occupational therapists, health visitors and social workers will also be an important part of your role.

4. Salary

Starter: around £22,000

Experienced: £28,000 to £35,000 (specialist physiotherapist)

Highly Experienced: up to £41,000 (advanced physiotherapist or team manager)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 37.5 hours a week. 

It's important to have a good level of personal fitness as the work can be physically tiring.

6. Career path and progression

You may find it useful to become a member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP).

With experience you could become self-employed and set up your own practice.

In the NHS, you could progress to senior physiotherapist or move into health service management. You could also specialise in an area like orthopaedics, sports therapy, occupational health, or working with older people or children.

You could also move into research or teaching.

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Last updated: 24 May 2017