Exploring The Pediatric Physical Therapy Career

pediatric physical therapy

For many graduating high school students, finding a suitable career to follow can be a problem, not just because many of them are not sure what they want.  There are so many factors to consider like what courses are offered locally, what they can afford, and what pays good salary after graduation.  Faced with so much uncertainty, some explore possibilities and compatibility by taking short preparatory courses that allow them to work on entry-level jobs.  This gives them the chance to gauge which career is a good fit for them.  College freshmen will do well to consider a career in Pediatric Physical Therapy.

pediatric physical therapy

Desirable Traits

Pediatric Physical Therapy is not for everybody. Aside from the fact, that one has to possess intellectual and physical skills, physical therapist practitioners need to be interested in working with children, and have the patience to deal with them.  They must be emphatic and communicate well not only with children, but with the parents as well.  They need to be emotionally strong.

Educational Requirements

Aspiring pediatric physical therapist assistants are required to take associate or undergraduate studies, which include medical subjects, first aid, as well as, hands-on training at a rehabilitation center or clinic.  It is important to note that states require that they have a license to practice.  The requirements vary with each state, but the most common requirement is to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination – assistant level.

Requirements for obtaining a Pediatric Physical Therapist license are more stringent.  They are required to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree, preferably with a major in biology, anatomy, child development, neuroscience or physiology.  Only then will they be eligible to enter graduate school for to obtain the minimum requirement of a physical therapy master’s program, or a lengthy doctoral degree at an institution recognized by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Even while still at school, the aspiring Pediatric Physical Therapist has to participate in an internship program and then pass an APTA-credentialed post professional clinical residency in pediatric physical therapy.  Licensing will normally require passing the National Physical Therapy Examination for Pediatric Physical Therapists.

Normal Duties

Pediatric Physical Therapists work with children suffering from congenital defects, illnesses or injuries sustained in accidents.  This would include infants to teenagers.  Common health conditions requiring their help include cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, chronic pain cystic fibrosis, scoliosis and developmental disorders.

The Pediatric Physical Therapists first interview children and make them feel at ease.  Then, they use a selection of manipulation, breathing training, exercise training, and burn and wound care techniques to treat their young patients.  In some cases, they also design, manufacture and fit prosthetics to aid their mobility.

Normally, Pediatric Physical Therapy Assistants work under the supervision of a Pediatric Physical Therapist doing the minor work.

pediatric physical therapy

Salary and Job Outlook

Even if it takes a lot of study to get there, a career in pediatric physical therapy can be financially rewarding. Pediatric Physical Therapists can earn anywhere from $51,000 to $85,000 per year, depending on the location and the cost of living.  In 2013, the average salary for Pediatric Physical Therapists is $72,000 per year.  It is not so easy to find those pay scales these days.

For the Physical Therapy Assistants, their salary scales are not so far behind either.  Their salaries range from a low of $32,030 to a high of $71,200.  The average hourly wage of $24.57 as of May 2011 translates to about $51,110 per year.

Job opportunities for both Pediatric Physical Therapists and Pediatric Physical Therapy Assistants can be found mainly in nurseries, childcare centers, neonatal intensive care units, schools, health care centers, hospitals, and rehabilitation facilities.  Some children may also require home treatments.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the job growth rate for physical therapists from 2010-2020 to be approximately 39%.  This figure is higher for most other jobs and should provide for good job security for any practitioner.

For those entering college, you can definitely pursue a career in Pediatric Physical Therapy.  The educational requirements may be stringent, but the rewards are way above average compensations.  The work may be hard, and at times emotionally challenging, but what is more rewarding than a child’s smile?

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