If you’re applying for a job as a physical therapist in the US, you are highly qualified but may not have experience.
If you do have experience, you are at an advantage. But even so, you need a powerful resume that grabs the attention of recruiters and shows that you have more potential than other applicants.
We have developed a full resume sample to help you.
Resume objective for a physical therapist
An objective has been included in resumes for decades. But it has recently fallen out of favor. That said, it can be a useful tool to attract attention to your worth.
If you decide to include an objective in your physical therapist (PT) resume make certain it is tailored to the specific job you are applying for.
While it can highlight what you have previously done and/or where you aim to go in your career, the value an objective has is to show what skills and experiences you have that will make you a worthwhile employee in the position.
Better still, toss out the objective and open your resume with an insightful summary that showcases what recruiters want to see.
According to MAS Medical Staffing, current trends indicate that a resume objective can sometimes do more harm than good, primarily because they tend to be too general.
A very short summary of your professional abilities, on the other hand, is more likely to grab the attention of a hiring manager. In fact, they advise that an enticing summary is the foundation of a strong resume. So, feature your strongest skills and accomplishments.
Certified physical therapist with a thorough knowledge of evaluation techniques and intervention strategies. Five years of experience. Specialist in clinical electrophysiology. Member of APTA for five years.
Resume skills for a physical therapist
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 15,200 job opportunities for PTs every year. Additionally, employment is projected to grow by 18% in the decade ending 2029. This is much faster than the average for occupations in general.
This might make you think that it will be easier to get a PT job. But because the demand is currently so high, recruiters tend to review stacks of resumes at one time.
Hopefully, you will have attracted attention with a strong summary, but now you need to reinforce this by showcasing your skills.
According to ZipRectruiter, the top skills mentioned in job descriptions can be used as keywords when writing a resume. These are physical therapy, clinic, patient care, rehabilitation, outpatient, treatment planning, orthopedics, injury, basic life support, and home healthcare.
Employers also commonly list ortho in job descriptions. This, along with patient care and treatment planning is less often used in resumes, so if you have experience in these fields, it’s a good idea to mention them.
Commitment to rehabilitate | Ortho | Passionate about patient care | Treatment planning | Health care diagnoses | Communication | Strength & coordination | CPR & BLS | Technology skills
Physical therapist work experience
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there were 258,200 PT job positions in 2019. A third of these were in offices of physical, occupational, and speech therapists as well as audiologists. A quarter was in state, local, and private hospitals.
The rest were in home healthcare service companies (11%), nursing and residential care facilities (6%), and about 8% were self-employed workers.
Whatever field of experience you have had, work experience is pivotal for a good resume. But you want to do more than just list places where you have worked.
Be sure to include your achievements and notable contributions – and quantify if you can. For instance, include the size of practices and types of patients you have worked with.
According to MAS Medical Staffing, a good rule of thumb is to include your last 10 years of experience. But it is vital to include experience that is relevant to the position you are applying for. This might mean delving further back, or, if you haven’t had that much experience, you may want to include volunteer work you have done.
Sample Work Experience
Murdoch Center, NC
Physical Therapist, 2018 – 2020
Provided quality PT services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Evaluated patients and recommended appropriate interventions based on their individual needs.
- Responsible for the clinical supervision of PT students and a PT assistant.
- Consistent and effective interaction with patients which lead to being constantly commended for good documentation and communication skills.
- Concentrated on occupational rehabilitation therapy amongst a very varied age group.
- Worked with isokinetic devices, exercise balls, and exercise balls, as well as other equipment.
University of Oklahoma, OK
Clinical Physical Therapist, 2017 – 2018
Organized, conducted, and administered medically-prescribed therapeutic treatment programs to restore body functions and prevent patients from suffering disabilities following disease or injury.
- Planned and modified treatment plans for patients every working day.
- Trained students, interns, and new physical therapists.
- Devised three new courses related to rehabilitation therapy.
- Began studying for a master’s degree in PT online.
Froedtert South, WI
Physical Therapist, 2016 – 2018
Evaluated patients and developed treatment programs according to the physician’s prescriptions. Implemented activities designed to treat patients with disorders, injuries, and/or physical disabilities.
- Administered medications and was responsible for CPR and BLS while on duty.
- Designed five new continuing education programs relating to rehabilitation, treatment planning, and patient care.
- Participated in all the company’s department committees.
- Provided comprehensive documentation of patient treatments including regular progress reports, monthly summaries, and discharge reports.
Physical therapist education
The education requirements for PTs is closely related to licensure, because to be able to practice, you need a state license.
To be licensed, you need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Then you need to pass the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) National Physical Therapy Examination.
According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), most DPT degree programs take three years and require a bachelor’s degree with a health science major for admission.
There are some programs that offer three rather than four years of undergraduate/pre-PT courses prior to a three-year professional DPT program, reducing the total learning period from seven to six years.
A limited number of programs recruit students directly from high school.
About 80% of the DPT curriculum is classroom-based plus lab study, and the rest is focused on clinical education. Students spend about 27.5 weeks in clinical experience before their final exams.
The University of Pittsburgh
DPT, 2017 – 2019
The University of Pittsburgh
BS in Health Services, 2013 – 2016
Licensed PTs have the opportunity to work in a residency or fellowship program to increase their knowledge and improve their skills.
According to the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, residencies and fellowships are a great way to begin specializing.
The American Physical Therapy Association (ASPA) recognizes the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) as the official agency for residency and fellowship education. This is the to-go-to body if you are considering residency.
APTA identifies some of the many specialty fields within PT including work in medical facilities that involve performing intensive or subacute rehab exercises on patients.
Be sure your specialty is in keeping with the requirements of the job you are applying for.
Even if you don’t opt for a residency or fellowship, continuing education opportunities keep PTs up-to-date with standards and trends in the profession. You need to do a certain number of continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain your state license.
Some of the CEU courses the University currently offers are online. Other universities offer similar opportunities. Each state board will have detailed information on the courses required to meet licensing requirements.
- Physical Therapy CEU
- Geriatric Balance and Fall Prevention
- Proper Management of Ankle Sprains in Competitive Athletes
- Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency Program (Sacred Heart University, CT)
After working in the field, licensed PTs who have completed an APTA-accredited residency program or at least 2,000 hours of clinical work may choose to become board-certified through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialities (ABPTS).
There are nine specialty areas from which to choose:
- Cardiovascular and Pulmonary
- Clinical Electrophysiology
- Women’s Health
According to the ABPTS, becoming a certified specialist will open doors to new job opportunities and show patients and physicians that you have advanced skills.
It will also develop a greater depth of knowledge in your chosen area of practice, elevating you to a much higher level of proficiency.
Additionally, and as a matter of course, physical therapists are normally required to be certified via the American Heart Association (AHA) as Basic Life Support (BLS) healthcare providers.
- PT, DPT
- Licensed Physical Therapist – relevant state
- ABPTS, Sport
- AHA BLS
Complete physical therapist resume sample
There are loads of physical therapist job offerings on recruitment websites. We sampled dozens of them and decided to use this one to show you how to write a resume that will suit this position.
The key attributes required to get this job relate to character and personality as much as abilities and experience.
The basic requirements are a degree and state licensure, which means you need to be a Doctor of PT to get the job. You also need the AHA’s BLS certification. They would also like someone who communicates well and who has the ability to adapt and improve.
These really are basic requirements, and all licensed PTs will have at very least the degree and license. So you need to be sure that your resume shows that you have all this and more.
Florida-licensed physical therapist with more than seven years of experience. ABPTS in neurology. Acute interest in pediatric and women’s health PT. APTA member.
Positive and approachable | Communicative | Strong coachability | Happy, healthy and determined | Patient care | Healthcare diagnoses | Committed to CE | CPR & BLS skills
CORA Physical Therapy, FL
Physical Therapist, 2018 – 2020
Provided direct patient care, evaluated case histories, functional capabilities, limitations, and restrictions to develop effective rehab plans. Performed comprehensive, caring evaluations and established achievable goals and actionable treatment plans.
- Worked in telehealth when it wasn’t possible for patients to come into the clinic.
- Restored function and minimized pain for hundreds of patients.
- Skilfully and safely progressed all these patients through their levels of treatment.
- Attended 16 workshops and conferences that added value to my position.
John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital
Physical Therapist Outpatient Center, 2016 – 2017
Provided quality clinical care, evaluation, and treatment as part of the hospital’s outpatient care center. Utilized value-based care and evidence-based practices.
- Performed daily evaluations to determine the functional levels of patients.
- Worked with numerous children with development and movement problems who had difficulty performing functional and physical activities.
- Provided at-home exercise education to selected families and parents to help their children’s therapy.
- Commended my interpersonal skills for interaction with children and their families.
Sun City Center, FL
Physical Therapist, 2014 – 2015 (position for a new graduate)
Implemented high-quality physical therapy services for patients and caregivers. Developed treatment plans, supervised assistants and aides, contributed to case management and provided quality patient care.
- Passed the exam to become a Licensed Physical Therapist in Florida
- Maintained ongoing positive levels of interaction with facilities and clients.
- Helped to design individualized treatment plans and delivered these to patients.
- From the end of 2014, was part of the team that provided athletic training services to professional sports teams.
- Licensed Physical Therapist, Florida
- PT, DPT
- ABPTS, Neurology
- AHA BLS
University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences
DPT, 2011 – 2013
University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences
BS in Health Services, 2007 – 2010
- Neuro Examination: Back to Basics
- Sports Injury Prevention, Management, and Performance
- Providing Intervention for Children with Unilateral Cerebral Palsy
PTs are highly qualified professionals who must be licensed to be able to practice. Specializations and certifications are highly valued.
- PTs in general start high in terms of eligibility for good-job charts. You are highly qualified and licensed, and you may be certified. You may also specialize in one of the nine specialty areas. All this does is show that you meet the basic requirements of the job. To stand out, you need to craft a resume that shows instantly that you have additional skills and values.
- Medical-related fields generally don’t value a resume objective. But they do recognize the value of a personal statement that gives a written snapshot of accomplishments, abilities, and top skills. Call it what you will use it to advantage.
- Your resume is the best marketing tool you can use to get that all-important interview for the job of your dreams. But you are the one marketing you! Don’t hold back. Do the best sales job you are capable of.
Tips from Experts
“The first page of your resume should show your clinical expertise. Your resume is your first impression, it’s your opportunity to tell who you are based on your experiences, and it needs to accurately reflect that. “ – Robert Snow, PT, DPT, OCS
“You may or may not want to have a summary at the top of your resume, but only if it’s customized for the practice you are applying to, and you should mention the name of the practice.“ – Brett Kestenbaum, PT, DPT, Covalent Careers
“The objective statement was one of those things that was traditionally used for PT resumes, but now I don’t really recommend using it. You could start with a profile, a summary, or something along those lines for some more qualified candidates. But just having an objective statement is repetitive. They know you are applying for whatever position it is.“ – Bradley Hammer
The job you do helps other people and is pivotal in healing lives. It’s hard work for you and for your patients, but extremely rewarding when you (plural) witness extreme healing as a result of physical therapy.
Draw on the experiences you have had and the good you have done when you craft your all-important resume. Use the tips and ideas presented in this article however you can help you to improve your job-specific resume and make it a winner.