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Job Prospects & Future Growth

Employment of physical therapists is expected to grow faster than the average for all other occupations through 2010.   The demand for physical therapists should continue to rise as a result of growth in the number of individuals with disabilities or limited function.

Future Needs in PT
The rapidly growing elderly population is particularly vulnerable to chronic and debilitating conditions that require therapeutic services. Also, the baby boom generation is entering the prime age for heart attacks and strokes, increasing the need for cardiac and physical rehabilitation.

A Greater Demand for the Experts!
Advances in medical technology that increase survival of newborns with birth defects, save more trauma victims, and permit treatment of additional disabling conditions will create greater demand for rehabilitative care. Widespread interest in health promotion also should increase demand for physical therapy services. A growing number of employers are using physical therapists to evaluate work sites, develop exercise programs, and teach safe work habits to employees in the hope of reducing injuries.

Job Prospects?
Physical therapists held about 132,000 jobs in 2000, with one-in-four working part-time. About two-thirds of physical therapists were employed in hospitals or private practice. Other jobs were in home health agencies, outpatient rehabilitation centers, offices and clinics of physicians and nursing homes.

Lots of Options!
Self-employed physical therapists may provide services to individual patients or contract with hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health agencies, adult day care programs and schools. They may establish a solo practice or join a consulting group. Physical therapists also teach in academic institutions and conduct research.

How Many Are Needed?
Increase in demand for therapists in healthcare comes just as many Boomer-age therapy professionals are themselves nearing retirement. Those expected replacement needs plus current vacancy rates -- some in double-digit percentages -- signal strong hiring needs in the coming years. Indeed, the government projects the US will need an additional 62,000 PTs, 40,000 OTs and 49,000 SLPs between 2002 and 2012. 

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