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What Is A Physiotherapist's Typical Career Path?

What Is A Physiotherapist's Typical Career Path?
Photo: What Is A Physiotherapist's Typical Career Path?
Physiotherapy is a wide and varied profession with plenty of opportunities for advancing your career. Here we take a look at the typical career path of a physiotherapist.

Some people choose to start their career in physiotherapy by working in a support role in areas such as administration or as a physiotherapist assistant. It gives them a taste of what is involved in the field of physiotherapy without the responsibility of being a registered physiotherapist. Minimum qualifications such as a Certificate or Diploma are needed for these roles, both of which can be gained at a TAFE institute or a private college.

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Working As A Registered Physiotherapist Is Just The Beginning

To have become a registered physiotherapist an individual will have graduated from university having completed a four year Bachelor degree course in physiotherapy. They will also have registered with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia, and once their name has appeared on the Register, they will be free to practice physiotherapy in any territory or state. Although at this stage they will not have carried out any post graduate studies, they will have a good all round general knowledge of the science and treatment across a wide spectrum of physical disorders and injuries.

Further into their career, a physiotherapist may choose to specialise in a particular area which they are passionate about, such as sports injuries or aged care. To do so they will need to apply for membership with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA), which has a branch in every state and territory, and participate in professional development with their relevant APA national group (eg Sports Physiotherapy Australia).

These are physiotherapists who are highly trained in their personal field of physiotherapy. For example:

Sports medicine
•Paediatrics
•Animal physiotherapy
•Musculoskeletal physiotherapy
•Neurological physiotherapy
•Gerontological physiotherapy
•Cardio respiratory physiotherapy
•Occupational Health and Safety
•Continence and Women's Health

There are two different routes to becoming a titled physiotherapist in a chosen field and these are:
1.Self-directed learning pathway – this requires 5 years of clinical experience and an extensive examination process.

2.Course work pathway –  this requires 2 years of clinical experience and participation in a recognised postgraduate Masters programme
Whichever pathway a physiotherapist chooses, they will be required to maintain their membership with the APA and take part in regular CPD (Continuing Professional Development) activities.

Having become a Titled Member of their particular national group such as sports physiotherapy, they will be allowed to use the title “APA Sports Physiotherapist”.

Specialist Physiotherapists Command The Highest Salaries

Individuals who have become experts in their particular field of physiotherapy are known as specialist physiotherapists.

To go from being a Titled Member to a specialist, it will be necessary to participate in a further two year training programme through their national group. This programme consists of participating in study groups, trial examinations, reports, presentations, facilitated professional development programmes, research activity and further clinical experience. Two oral examinations and a clinical exam have to then be passed successfully.

Following this, successful candidates are awarded the status of “specialist physiotherapist” and become Fellows of the Australian College of Physiotherapists.

Differing levels of study and clinical experience will pave the way to a wide variety of jobs within physiotherapy and finding one that you are passionate about and that fits in with your time commitments, is paramount to a successful career in physiotherapy.

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