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Physical Therapy (PT) Jobs near Me

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A Physical Therapist (PT) helps clients improve movement, restore function, and reduce and manage pain so they can be more active, and healthier. In the context of school-aged children, physical therapists specifically focus on helping students ages 3 to 21.

School-based physical therapy jobs perform only services related directly to educational needs. Ensuring students with disabilities and disorders receive a free and appropriate education to prepare them for further schooling, employment, and independent living is the focus of school-based physical therapy services.

Physical Therapists on the Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) team use their expertise and experience to improve students’ functional performance throughout the Greater Delaware Valley.

What Does a School-Based Physical Therapist Do?

As a school-based PT, you’ll work with students facing a variety of challenging conditions, including:

  • Developmental delays
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Progressive neuromuscular disorders
  • Physical disabilities
  • Autism or a sensory processing disorder (SPD)
  • Learning disabilities
  • Intellectual disabilities

You’ll assess these students, identify their needs, and recommend appropriate therapy services that can help them make progress.

These services can improve students’ strength, stability, balance, endurance, posture, gross and fine motor control, coordination, and mobility so they have the fullest possible physical access to their natural learning environment.

You’ll also be adapting and modifying that environment to facilitate access. You might consult with a teacher about adaptive classroom seating, for example, or help design and implement playground modifications. Interventions and services can be more or less intense and frequent and delivery modes can vary as students’ needs change.

You will attend meetings of students’ Individualized Education Plan (IEP) teams. Additional responsibilities include interpreting assessment results, making recommendations, and collaborating with other team members. This often includes parents or other primary caregivers, general and special education teachers, school administrators, and other related service providers—to develop intervention plans.

In schools using a Multi-Tier Systems of Supports (MTSS) approach to related services, your work may not be limited to students with an IEP or Section 504 plan.

Senator Mike Enzi and former Senator Tom Harkin wrote in 2010: “Pediatric physical therapists are the ‘practitioners of choice’ to apply evidence-based practices regarding the general growth and development of all students, as well as health, wellness, fitness, injury prevention, and obesity management.”

You may train classroom teachers and other staff in physical therapy strategies they can use to address students’ needs without making formal referrals. These Tier 1 interventions not only empower teachers, but also ensure your caseload only contains students who actually need to be on it.

What Educational Requirements Must a Physical Therapist Meet?

If you want a physical therapy job in the U.S., you’ll need to earn a doctor of physical therapy degree (DPT) from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Most of these programs require that candidates hold an undergraduate degree in physical therapy or a closely related field. In addition, candidates should have gained some patient care experience doing volunteer work at hospitals or clinics.

Earning the DPT generally takes three years of full-time study. Among other areas, your curriculum coursework covers:
Female school-based physical therapist (PT) lies on stomach to play with string of wooden beads with young cross-legged boy.

  • Cardiovascular and pulmonary systems
  • Endocrine and metabolic systems
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Cellular histology
  • Physiology (general and exercise)
  • Biomechanics
  • Kinesiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Medical diagnostics
  • Pharmacology
  • Orthotics and prosthetics
  • Behavioral sciences
  • Communication

Classroom work and lab study comprise about 80% of the DPT curriculum. Supervised clinical education accounts for the other 20%. Different programs require different amounts of clinical education. On average, the final clinical experience lasts 27.5 weeks.

Aspiring PTs must also pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE®), comprised of 250 multiple choice questions that take up to five hours to complete.

The test encompasses your mastery of examinations, evaluations, and interventions in nine body systems. It pays most attention to:

  • The musculoskeletal system (51-60 items)
  • The neuromuscular and nervous systems (44-50 items)
  • The cardiovascular and pulmonary systems (23-28 items)

A passing score is 600 points. In 2019, 91% of first-time candidates passed the board exam.
You will also need to meet the licensure or certification requirements of the state in which you intend to practice. The individual state regulatory boards manage licensure. Most states require continuing education as a condition for licensure renewal.

Provide Physical Therapy Services as Part of the PTS Team

The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates 18% job growth for physical therapists through 2029, “much faster than the average for all occupations.”

Much of this demand for PTs will come from the aging population of baby boomers. But, while many medical settings are cutting therapy services in response to insurance changes, federal law continues to require students who qualify for related services to be provided to them.

Almost 7,000 physical therapists work in U.S. schools, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). As long as the law requires special education, school administrators will need to fill school-based physical therapy jobs with qualified, quality practitioners.

Browse PTS’ current selection of school-based PT jobs on this page, and consider joining our team as an Independent Contractor.

We’ll help you find and land a position where you can make practical, profound differences for young people while building a rewarding career for yourself.