Physical Therapist Resume Samples
Physical therapists are responsible for the pain management and physical progress of patients who are recovering from surgery, who are regaining the strength and use of their bodies post-injury, and who need assistance in maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle.
Physical therapists must be skilled in planning, management, organization, and communication. This is a career path that is largely clinical in nature—so if you’re interested, plan on a thorough practical training program and lots of in-person interaction with clients and patients. A physical therapist resume needs to reflect those skills and experiences.
In this article, we’ll explore the job profile of a physical therapist—what their educational backgrounds look like, their responsibilities, their average salaries, and the job outlook for the next few years. Then to get job seekers started on their job hunt, we’ll share some resume tips and give you an example of a physical therapist resume as well as some helpful information on cover letters, followed by an easy to follow cover letter template.
What Is A Physical Therapist?
Duties and Responsibilities
When you are a physical therapist, you are primarily developing physical fitness, health, and recovery plans and then executing them with your patients. Physical therapists work in a vast spectrum of settings—from schools, nursing homes, and hospitals, to health facilities, gyms, and private practices. Here are some of the typical duties and responsibilities that you should be sure to include on your physical therapist resume:
- Patient intake/records maintenance
- Consult with patients on their current physical fitness/ability
- Develop wellness plans based on needs of patients
- Diagnose various physical disfunctions and irregularities
- Based on the setting, consult with other care providers on treatment plans
Physical therapists, depending on the setting of their work, may also undertake various administrative duties in addition to their clinical ones.
While in the past, physical therapists could enter the profession with a master’s degree, new students are now only offered enrollment in Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degrees. These doctoral programs typically last three years and incorporate clinical and classroom based skills. Courses can include case kinesiology, anatomy, pharmacology, pathology, neuroscience, sociology, advanced physiology, dynamic systems, and more. Your doctoral program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
There is significant additional training that you can undertake to make you more marketable in achieving your goal of becoming a physical therapist—and even before the additional training you must pass the national physical therapy exam and receive state licensure. Many students decide that after graduation they want to pursue fellowships or residencies for further specialization. Also, consider becoming certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy. This is not a one size fits all credential; you can become certified in different areas, including the following:
- Women’s Health
- Sports Physical Therapy
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Should You Become A Physical Therapist?
There’s great news out there for those interested in a career in physical therapy. Statistics from the Occupational Outlook Handbook show that between 2016 and 2026 the field is expected to grow by 18% for physical therapists, which is higher than many other health specializations. Those interested in this job path should begin to apply now for degree programs in order to take advantage of this great career growth.
As with many health professions, your salary is largely dependent on the setting that you work in. Private practices, hospitals, and physical therapy offices will have a different salary range than schools, gyms, and nursing homes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites the median pay for physical therapists as $86,850, with the lowest salary being $59,080 and the highest being $122,650.
How To Write An Effective Physical Therapist Resume And Cover Letter
Physical Therapist Resume Tips
Some technical and organizational tips for making your physical therapist resume stand out are making sure both your education and experience are listed in reverse chronological order with the most recent at the top. Highlight particular achievements, high grades, and specialized skills. If you have them, dedicate an entire section to your licenses and certifications—again, in reverse chronological order. Make sure to start your resume with a professional summary—a condensed version of your experience, expertise, and the skills you intend to bring to the position.
More broadly, it’s important that your physical therapist resume be clear of grammatical errors—double and triple check for spelling errors, typos, run-on sentences, and too much repetition. It should be easy to read and should flow naturally—sections should be organized and highlight the most relevant and interesting skills and experience that make you well-suited for the position. Make sure your contact information is correct; there’s nothing worse than having a great resume but having an incorrect phone number or email and missing a call for an interview.
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Jane Dunn12345 High Way City, State * 555-555-5555* email@example.com
SummaryAs a physical therapist specializing in geriatrics, I have 10 years of clinical experience developing and implementing individualized rehabilitation programs. I have several specialized certifications in geriatric physical therapy and a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from an accredited program. I have excellent communication and management skills and have trained at a variety of clinical settings.
Caring Touch Nursing FacilityPhysical TherapistCity, State[Date-Date]
Describe work experience here
Receiving HospitalPhysical TherapistCity, State[Date-Date]
List Certifications And Credentials Here
Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)ABC University, 2004City, State
Bachelor of Science in KinesiologyABC University, 2000City, State
List special skills suited to the position
Physical Therapist Cover Letter
Generally, a cover letter signals several things to potential employers. First, it contextualizes your resume—it should explain why your skills, education, and training have made you the ideal candidate for the position. Second, it provides an effective writing sample to the hiring manager. Whether or not the position calls for significant writing, employers want employees who are good communicators. As a physical therapist, you’ll need to show exemplary communication tools and so your cover letter will be key in showing your aptitude for the position. Employers use cover letters as a screening tool—a good cover letter puts your resume into the running.
Below you’ll find a sample cover letter to use as a template for your job search. First, you’ll find a description of what each paragraph should contain, and below it, in italics, a practical example. This template is just that: a framework in which you can place your own style and skills in a way that best represents you. Use the example below as a guideline, not a rigid standard.
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Sample Cover Letter[Date]
Sally JamesSafe Harbor Nursing Home5555 Health RoadTown, State US 98765
Dear Ms. James,This first paragraph should contain a brief introduction to who you are, followed by what position you’re applying for. Then you can succinctly provide your educational and career background that recommends you to the position.
For the last 6 years I have been a physical therapist at Caring Touch Nursing Facility, and through this position and others, I have gained the exact experience, training, and clinical skills necessary for your open position of physical therapist. I am a graduate of ABC University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program and have completed a clinical rotation at Receiving Hospital under the direction of Pat Thomas, DPT. For your consideration, here are some of my credentials and certifications
- List credentials here
In this paragraph you should, in more detail, speak to the skills that you have obtained that make you a fit for the job. Talk about stand-out experiences, awards, or recognition in the field that more specifically make you the ideal candidate. Go into interesting and relevant parts of your background that aren’t necessarily on your resume (or things that are only briefly mentioned).
I have specialized training and experience in working with aging populations and my licenses and certifications reflect that. My clinical and administrative experiences have taught me a great deal about not only patient care but about delivering results—I am committed to developing care programs and managing patient schedules with a high level of excellence. I believe that my experiences make me an ideal candidate for the work being done at Safe Harbor Nursing Home.
Close with a paragraph that reiterates your interest in the position and the hope (not the expectation) that you will be able to communicate soon with an interview.
I am available for contact at the email address listed above and you can reach me during normal business hours at 555-555-5555.Thank you for considering my candidacy and I hope to speak with you soon.
Becoming a physical therapist is hard work—you’ll need years of school, fellowships, and clinical experience before you can snag a coveted position. But with the field growing faster than average, good median salaries, and an overall good outlook, those that put in the work will reap a big reward. Just remember that when writing a good physical therapist resume and cover letter to be clear, organized, and highlight your biggest achievements.