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How to Become a Physiotherapist

With sports such as rugby becoming increasingly physical; physiotherapists have never been in greater demand. People have also never been more aware of the damage they are causing to their bodies and the need to remedy it. This change in mentality has made a career as a physiotherapist, extremely attractive. So if you like manipulating muscles and alleviating pain, this may well be the career for you.

What Do Physiotherapists Do?

Simply put, physiotherapists treat people’s physical difficulties. Although much of the work that physiotherapists carry out has traditionally been focused on sport or similar injuries, they actually have an extremely varied job. In fact, physiotherapy is now recognised as a useful therapy for many illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis and stroke victims. Typical work activities for a physiotherapist may include:

  • Identifying what problem a patient is suffering from.
  • Designing a treatment plan to help to alleviate or cure the problem.
  • This can include exercises, stretches, ultrasound machines, massage or homeopathic methods such as acupuncture or chiropractic techniques.
  • Arranging follow up visits to ensure that patients are maintaining their treatment plan.
  • Providing muscle therapy to MS and stroke patients to encourage movement in their limbs to keep them mobile for as long as possible.
  • Taking plaster casts of patients’ feet in order to get accurate measurements for custom orthopaedic insoles.
  • Liaising with other medical professionals in charge of a patients care to ensure that best treatment is given.
  • Making sure that accurate and up to date records are kept of all patients.
  • Keeping abreast of all new developments in physiotherapy, so that they can provide the best care available.
  • Helping to train new physiotherapists.


Depending on where a physiotherapist works it can be an extremely lucrative career. But whether you work for the NHS for your whole career, or when you are just starting out; you will by no means be badly paid. However, as with most careers, if you work privately you will usually get a higher wage and if you set up your own practise, even more. But of course you have the added amounts of responsibility and stress, so you have to weigh up the pros and cons. No matter what you will still have to work for the NHS for the first two years of your career. The average earnings for Physiotherapists in the UK per year are roughly:

Newly qualified NHS

£21,000 – 27,000  (Pay Band 5)

Specialist NHS

£25,000 - £35,000 (Pay Band 6)

Advanced NHS

£30,000 - £40,000 (Pay Band 7)

Consultant NHS

£36,000 – £62,000 (Pay Band 8)

Private Dependent of Experience and Success

£17,315- £ 53,107 or Higher

What Qualifications are Needed

In order to become a Physiotherapist, the very minimum that you need is a physiotherapy degree approved by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). In order to get onto these courses, you need to get high marks at A-levels in biology and two other subjects preferably either physics, chemistry or mathematics but biology is the most important. If you did not take the right subjects at A-Level, then it is possible to take a postgraduate course, as long as your undergraduate degree was in a relevant subject, such as biological sciences or sports science.

Competition for places on these courses are extremely high, so as well as having an interview and fulfilling the usual academic requirements; it is also recommended that you show a genuine interest in physiotherapy, by carrying out some relevant work experience.

Entry Requirements:

  • High A-level marks in biology, chemistry and physics or mathematics.
  • 2:1 in relevant degree
  • Show a genuine interest in physiotherapy by carrying out some relevant work experience.

If you actually manage to get onto a physiotherapy course, you still have to take a three or four year degree followed by two years of vocational training.

  • BSc Hons Physiotherapy (3 or 4 years).
  • Masters programme in Physiotherapy if applicant has a relevant undergraduate degree (2 years)
  • Register with HCPC.
  • Once Qualified physiotherapists must work for two years within an NHS hospital to gain experience in different specialities. These can include:
    • Care of the elderly
    • Occupational health
    • Orthopaedics
    • Obstetrics
    • Paediatrics
    • Sports medicine
  • Receive mentorship and clinical supervision to help in your career development.

Career Development

Once a newly qualified physiotherapist has completed their two years initial training at an NHS hospital there are many prospect for career development. They can either choose to continue their training by attending courses, studying and taking postgraduate courses which will allow them to rise through the ranks of the NHS. Alternatively, they can choose to work privately which can be a much more financially lucrative career or worse depending on how much work you get. NHS physiotherapists have a fixed wage whereas private workers income is only limited by the amount of work they get. Private workers are also encouraged to improve their knowledge and experience through further training. If nothing else it will usually lead to a larger customer base. Regardless of which career path you choose, continuous career development is mandatory in order to maintain your membership of the HCPC. However, if you enjoy giving massages, manipulating muscles, helping people with physical injuries and getting well paid for it then this could be the right career for you.

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