Unconventional Career Options for Physical Therapists
This is the beginning of a many-part series designed to help young jobseekers and graduates understand that your major doesn’t have to define your career path. Try things. If you like your job, keep doing it. If you don’t try something new. Today, we’re looking at non-traditional paths for physical therapist majors.
Broken bones and torn ligaments have always grossed your friends out, but you always loved the idea of fixing things. For your entire educational career you’ve known that physical therapy is your calling. Now that you’re out of school and joined the working world, you’ve discovered, to your surprise, that the traditional “exam-diagnose-treat PT” path just isn’t right for you. For those of you PT majors looking to take another path, know that you aren’t limited to just this one career. In fact, there are quite a few directions you can go without ditching your PT degree.
Work with Animals
Did you know that your PT masters or doctorate allows for you to work with animals as well? No additional education required. Veterinarians need your services to rehabilitate animals and dog lovers will do just about anything to get Fluffy walking again. Opportunities exist for both canine and equine physical therapists, even as a newly minted PT. One piece of advice; we hear that human and equine anatomy are slightly different, so look into a couple nighttime or weekend courses that cover the differences between animal and human anatomy, techniques, etc. The refresher course could also be helpful in deciding whether working with animals is the right career choice for you.
Work with Special Demographics
Have sports always been your thing? Do you live to help people get back onto the field? Either way, physical therapists can easily transition into freelance work within any demographic they choose. They might specialize in working with injured athletes or for students in special education programs. They might only focus on mending your big toe. Either way, there is no limit to where humans strain or injure themselves so you’ll always be able to funnel your interests as sharply as you want.
Leverage Your Medical Knowledge
Do you dread being stuck in an office? Working as a traveling salesperson might be a rewarding option to consider. Your expertise with the equipment or knowledge of rehabilitation can be of value to companies selling all sorts of medical equipment. Your knowledge of common PT needs could be perfect for companies selling all sorts of devices. As a specialist, you can serve a territory or sell to various clinics and doctors' offices around the country, or even overseas. There are plenty of new grad jobs that can use your expertise that aren’t necessarily clinical in nature.
Work with Legal or Insurance Companies
Legal companies and insurers need your expertise to determine the validity of worker’s compensation claims or how much in damages to seek for a specific injury. Interested in acting as their consultant? Great, because you get to work on interesting cases and help make major decisions and judgments.
The truth is that very few people know what their career should be or what they’d love to do at 20. Everything deserves proper experimentation and research. If you’re finding that traditional physical therapy isn’t the right job for you, give these other options a try.
Ariel Lozovsky is a Marketing Intern at FirstJob who currently attends the University of Colorado at Boulder, studying Economics and Philosophy. When she's not reading, she loves petting dogs and playing tennis.