According to Forbes, physical therapist is one of the top ten toughest jobs to fill in 2016. Additionally, this Monster article states that physical therapy industry “jobs are projected to grow at 36 percent through the year 2022, significantly above the national average.” And thanks to direct access, physical therapists have more opportunities than ever. This is all great news for DPT students who graduate this year, but it also might be a bit overwhelming. With so much opportunity, how do you determine your best career fit?

I like to think of a career as a tree. In this case, your love of helping people roots you in the PT industry, your DPT degree is the trunk that builds the foundation of your career, and the branches and leaves are your opportunities to grow. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can stretch those branches:

The State of Rehab Therapy in 2018 - Regular BannerThe State of Rehab Therapy in 2018 - Small Banner

Grow Up

You love working with patients, but at some point in your career, you may wish to take on more responsibility at your clinic—or even start your own. Here are a few management opportunities available to you as a PT:

Manager

A great clinic manager is ready to lead, has an entrepreneurial spirit, and often has a few years of experience treating patients. Clinic managers still treat patients, but also supervise, train, and hire staff; oversee day-to-day operations and clinical activities; and ensure clinic compliance. Some of the most important PT clinic managerial skills include communication, budgeting, and resource allocation.

Director

Like a clinic manager, the clinic director handles all of the above—and then some. Additional responsibilities include HR, operational, and financial duties. A director typically works at a larger clinic and thus, may work less directly with patients. Those in director positions typically have several years of practice and supervisory experience.

Owner

You want to be your own boss? Awesome. Private practice PT may be the right option for you. But starting and owning your own clinic is a big job. Luckily, we’ve put together the Physical Therapist's Guide to Starting an Outpatient Clinic to help you get going. For a more personal perspective on this topic, check out this story on Kaci Monroe’s experience starting her own clinic in Montana.

Branch Out

Physical therapy is a business, but not everyone wants to go into private practice. Don’t worry; there’s a wide variety of settings in which to practice (or teach) physical therapy, including the following (adapted from the lists found here and here):

  • Large medical systems and hospitals with acute-care and specialty clinics (like Michael Brickens, PT)
  • Inpatient and subacute rehabilitation centers
  • Nursing care, skilled nursing, and long-term care facilities
  • Assisted living and adult day care
  • Community hospitals and clinics
  • Ambulatory care/outpatient physical therapy offices
  • Schools/preschools/universities
  • Corporations (typically as part of a health and wellness program)
  • Research centers
  • Occupational medicine
  • Home health care
  • Sports medicine clinics and fitness facilities (like Stephania Bell’s job in fantasy football)
  • Sports teams/athletes (like working with tennis pros or touring with Cirque du Soleil)
  • Armed services (like LT Heidi Fisher, PT, USPHS)
  • Veterinary clinics (like these folks)

To practice in some of these settings, you may need to get certified as a specialist. The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties currently offers these certification options:

  • Cardiovascular and Pulmonary
  • Clinical Electrophysiology
  • Geriatrics (check out Marc Suznovich’s story here)
  • Neurology
  • Orthopaedics
  • Pediatrics
  • Sports Physical Therapy
  • Women's Health

Whether you’re a DPT student or a current therapist who’s considering your options, let this list be a guide, but just that: a guide. It’s your tree—er, career—and you can choose any shape, size, or variety, from a weeping willow to a Douglas fir. Don’t want to own a clinic or supervise people? Talk to your manager about other leadership opportunities. Not interested in any of these specialties? Create your own. Are you a certified specialist or a clinic owner, director, or manager? Leaf your advice to others in the comment section below.

  • The Most Important Benefit for Your Employees Image

    articleJan 27, 2016 | 2 min. read

    The Most Important Benefit for Your Employees

    Ensure your employees stick with you by giving them what they desire most. Regardless of industry, top-notch employees are in high demand. When you find a quality staff member—whether that employee is a tech or therapist—you want to hang on to him or her. But retaining high-quality team members is tricky, and if you fail to do so, your business certainly will suffer. Nowadays, there’s a ton of talk about developing the most attractive benefit packages—that is, …

  • 4 Surprising Factors Potential PT Hires Want in a Job Image

    articleApr 25, 2018 | 5 min. read

    4 Surprising Factors Potential PT Hires Want in a Job

    When you’re looking to hire a new physical therapist, you clearly want to find the best one possible: someone who is competent, committed to lifelong learning, conscientious, and caring. During the the search process, you probably pore over average salaries in your area , doing everything you can to ensure you’re providing a competitive payment and benefit package . After all, most PTs want the best possible compensation, right? Well, that’s partially true. With the cost of …

  • How to Market Yourself as a Top PT Job Candidate Image

    articleMay 21, 2019 | 14 min. read

    How to Market Yourself as a Top PT Job Candidate

    Spring is here, which means hundreds of  #FreshPTs  are descending on the job market in pursuit of  the perfect job . It’s an exciting time for employers looking to expand their teams—but when you’re a new grad vying for that perfect job, especially without much experience, the competition can feel intimidating. Even if you’ve been out of school for years, certain jobs simply attract scores of applicants, which can shake the confidence of even the most experienced …

  • How to Attract Top Talent to Your Practice Image

    articleJan 22, 2016 | 2 min. read

    How to Attract Top Talent to Your Practice

    Every practice owner wants to hire the crème de la crème. Here’s how to get quality job candidates knocking on your door. Wouldn’t it be great to get the highest-quality job candidates lining up to work at your practice? Well, with a few tweaks to your strategy, that dream might not be that far from reality. It all has to do with curb appeal—that is, how you present your practice to potential candidates. Most companies offer competitive …

  • Beignets on the Bayou: Top #APTACSM Social Moments of 2018 Image

    articleMar 2, 2018 | 5 min. read

    Beignets on the Bayou: Top #APTACSM Social Moments of 2018

    Last week, the WebPT team paraded through NOLA (literally) to celebrate our 10th anniversary at the APTA’s largest conference, the Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) . And by gumbo, was it a treat. We got to gather in the great—and super humid—state of Louisiana with 17,000 other physical therapy professionals to learn, network, connect, and all that jazz. (Seriously, there was a lot of jazz.) And speaking of jazz, nothing gets me more jazzed than experiencing the buzz …

  • 3 Steps to Avoid the Bad-Hire Blues in Your Practice Image

    articleApr 14, 2016 | 6 min. read

    3 Steps to Avoid the Bad-Hire Blues in Your Practice

    Hiring the right person for your practice can be tricky, because if you want to find a true “gem,” you have to evaluate more than a person’s qualifications. You have to hire for good culture-fit , too. And unfortunately, that’s a quality you aren’t going to find on any job board—or even a resumé, for that matter. This special “it” factor is something you have to intentionally look for during the hiring process. So, why is culture …

  • Founder Letter: The 8 Toughest Things You'll Have to Do as the Boss Image

    articleJul 7, 2016 | 9 min. read

    Founder Letter: The 8 Toughest Things You'll Have to Do as the Boss

    Whether you manage one or two employees, or sit at the helm of a multi-clinic chain, being the boss is challenging. And based on what I’ve learned in my own experience as both a clinic director and a tech executive, being a good boss is as much about leaning into the tough situations as it is letting go of what we can’t control. So, what difficult scenarios have I had to lean into—and let go of? Here …

  • How to Create an Employee Recognition Program that Works Image

    articleJan 28, 2016 | 2 min. read

    How to Create an Employee Recognition Program that Works

    Forget about employee-of-the-month parking spots. Here’s how to give your employees the appreciation they really want. As a leader, it’s up to you to keep your staff happy and motivated. One of the easiest—but most often overlooked—ways to do that is through something I call Active Appreciation. Receiving recognition for a job well done feels good—we all know this. And a little intentional appreciation—above and beyond high-fives and gold stars—can go a long way toward increasing employee …

  • The Physical Therapy Blogs You Should be Reading Image

    articleOct 24, 2018 | 10 min. read

    The Physical Therapy Blogs You Should be Reading

    Successful professionals make it a point to stay current with industry trends, and physical therapists are no exception. Whether you're passionate about career growth, clinical care, pain science, a niche like sports or pelvic floor therapy, or finding creative ways to use your degree, there's probably a PT blog out there for you. In this post, we've curated some of the best physical therapy blogs on the Internet. Some are written by PTs; others are managed by …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.