WHAT DO THERAPISTS DO?
Compassion counts. Therapists are people who help the injured and sick recover, improve movement and motor function and manage pain. Therapists work in a number of fields related to the body and mind, and help patients deal with mental, emotional and physical issues, create specific therapies and exercises for the individual, and develop plans for ongoing care to improve their lives.
There are several types of therapists, which include physical therapists, occupational therapists, recreational therapists, respiratory therapists, massage therapists, radiation therapists, and mental health, family and marriage therapists.
HOW MUCH DO THERAPISTS MAKE?
Your pay depends on what kind of therapist you are. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for therapists in 2010 was as follows:
- Physical Therapists: $36.69/hour or $76,310 per year
- Occupational Therapists: $34.77/hour or $72,320 per year
- Respiratory Therapists: $26.10 per hour or $54,280 per year
- Massage Therapists: $16.78/hour or $34,900 per year
- Mental Health, Marriage and Family Therapists: $19.09/hour or $39,710 per year
WHAT ARE THE EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS?
Education requirements for therapists range from an associate's degree to a doctoral degree, depending on what type of therapist you want to become. For example, massage therapists must complete a program that combines 500+hours of study and experience, respiratory therapists need an associate's degree or more, recreational therapists require a bachelor's degree, occupational therapists need a master's degree and physical therapists require a master's degree or a doctorate in physical therapy (DPT).
All therapists must get certification and licensure in their respective fields, the requirements of which vary by state.
JOB SKILLS AND REQUIREMENTS
- Compassion: You are working with people who are under physical and mental duress. You must have a strong sense of empathy and compassion to help people feel comfortable.
- Communication Skills: Therapists will need to be good listeners and good communicators, listening to patients describe their ailments, working with them to come up with plans, explaining progress to the patient, their family, other doctors, and insurance companies.
- Physical Stamina: For some therapist jobs, you will need to be able to manipulate a person's body and help them move in and out of devices.
- Problem-Solving Skills: You will be working with patients to develop ways to manage pain, cope with ailments and recover from physical or mental trauma. You will need to think outside the box to create specific plans for each person, according to their needs, comfort level and and limitations.
- Technical Skills: Some therapy jobs require an understanding comfortability around computer equipment to help rehabilitate a patient.