Top 10 careers in physiotherapy

10 May 2024

What are the top 10 careers in physiotherapy?

Physiotherapists assess their clients by planning and delivering individually designed treatment programs to maintain, improve, or restore physical functioning and mobility; alleviate pain; and prevent physical dysfunction. They’re employed in clinics, extended-care facilities, hospitals, sports organizations, rehabilitation centres, or may work in private practice.

According to the Government of Canada, physiotherapy is “expected to face labour shortage conditions over the period of 2022–2031 at the national level,” and job opportunities in Canada on average are considered “good.”

Learn more about Australian physiotherapy degrees for Canadians

Job titles include physical therapist, physiotherapist, registered physiotherapist, and research physiotherapist.

Where do physiotherapists work?

Physiotherapists (or PTs) work in a multitude of settings including community centres, private clinics, and home care services. Physio services can also be affiliated with retirement residences and child development centres. Here’s a list of some of the areas you could work in as a registered professional physiotherapist:

  • Private clinics
  • Health and wellness facilities
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Community health centres
  • Healthcare / health service centres
  • Universities
  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centres
  • Sports organizations
  • Social service agencies
  • General practitioner’s offices
  • Institutions for disabled
  • Community health centre
  • Home care agencies
  • Recreation centres
  • Child development centres
  • Private practice offices
  • Outpatient facilities

There’s so much you can do with a physiotherapy degree! There are dozens of areas available to registered PTs, but here’s a list of some of the most popular:

1. Physiotherapist
Physiotherapists, also known as physical therapists, use a variety of techniques to treat ill or injured people manage pain and improve mobility, and counsel patients on procedures to prevent further injury. As a physiotherapist, your treatment methods include massage, heat or cold applications, water therapy, and ultrasound.

2. Acute Care Physiotherapist
Acute care physiotherapy involves providing care to patients who have been admitted to a hospital or care facility and have an immediate need for physiotherapy. General responsibilities include triage, providing therapeutic services, making discharge recommendation, developing treatment plans, and teaching patients proper assistive device usage. The primary qualification for an acute care physiotherapist is the completion of a Doctor of Physiotherapy program.

3. Rehabilitation Therapist
As a rehabilitation therapist, you’ll help injured patients recover from surgery, sports injuries, or accidents. Job duties include evaluating a patient’s recovery progress, as well as helping them rebuild their physical strength, flexibility, and range of motion to injured body parts. A rehabilitation therapist can also work as an occupational therapist and assist injured workers in returning to the workplace. People in this career are often employed by hospitals, rehab clinics, and private practices.

4. Pediatric Physiotherapist
Pediatric physiotherapists oversee the physiotherapy treatments for infants, children, and young adults. As a pediatric physical therapist, your responsibilities and duties include assessing the patient, determining and conducting a course of treatment. You manage the physical therapy care of the patient, ensuring the course of action is effective, including recording data to show the patient’s progress throughout their treatment.

5. Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist
A cardiac rehab specialist helps heart patients strengthen themselves through exercise and nutrition. In this career path, you’ll monitor patients for arrhythmias, support their efforts to exercise, and identify any risks in their treatment plan. You’ll also use assessment techniques to determine the best method of care, provide nutritional counseling, collect clinical data, update medical records, and provide emotional support. A cardiac rehabilitation specialist often works with other medical professionals to provide comprehensive care.

6. Rehabilitation Specialist
A rehabilitation specialist works with individuals who have special physical, mental, or health needs. As a rehab specialist, your job duties are to assist individuals based on their needs and teach them strategies to succeed in daily life. You can specialize in mental-health rehab by teaching socialization strategies and helping them find work; in vocational rehab, helping people with physical disabilities find jobs; or in cardiac rehab, training patients who have survived a heart attack to exercise and eat right when they return home (see cardiac rehab specialist).

7. Orthopedic Physiotherapist
An orthopedic physical therapist provides patient care concerning muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons. You’ll help patients with pain, swelling, or stiffness. You may also help implement recovery programs for people who have recently been injured or have just undergone surgery. In entry-level positions, you may work directly under the supervision of a clinical supervisor or doctor.

8. Play Therapist
As a play therapist, your job is to provide therapy for children through the strategic use of games and toys. You’ll evaluate behavioral changes and collaborate with other staff to address the unique issues and challenges each client faces. Play therapy is often used to help promote cooperation or set and pursue goals. While play therapists focus exclusively on these techniques, but you may occasionally use other strategies when helping families. Play therapists often work for schools and private healthcare facilities.

9. Exercise Physiologist
Exercise physiologists often work with athletes, performing fitness and stress tests, then analyzing the results. You’ll consider a patient’s medical history to determine and plan exercise and fitness regimens that can improve their well-being. As an exercise physiologist, you’ll often use test results to develop treatments for various conditions like cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders. Your responsibilities include measuring heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. You’ll also use a patient’s medical history to determine and prevent potential complications.

10. Travel Physiotherapist
Instead of working in one location, a travel physio travels across your city or province to provide physical therapy. You may focus specifically on providing services to at-risk or underserved populations, or you may contract with a health care staffing agency. Your responsibilities are similar to those physios working in a hospital or an outpatient facility. You provide pain management strategies and help your patients recover and regain mobility after accidents, injuries, or surgeries.

Be sure to check out the Government of Canada Job Bank and the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR) for more info about working as a physiotherapist in Canada.

Australian Physiotherapy Degrees

Australian graduate-entry physiotherapy degrees are highly sought after by Canadian university graduates with academic backgrounds in kinesiology, health sciences, and human kinetics. In Australia, physio programs are offered at both the undergraduate- and graduate-entry levels:

  • Bachelor of Physiotherapy / Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours)
  • Master of Physiotherapy / Master of Physiotherapy Studies / Master of Physiotherapy Practice
  • Doctor of Physiotherapy

Graduate-entry Physiotherapy Degrees
Both the Master of Physiotherapy (MPT) and the Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT) are master’s-level programs designed to produce qualified, highly skilled physiotherapists. Read more about the differences between an MPT and a DPT.

These degrees are offered throughout the year, depending on the university you choose. Click on on a university below to learn more about the admissions requirements, intake details, and application deadline:

Undergraduate-entry Physiotherapy Degrees
Australian bachelor physio degrees are 4 years in duration and begin in February/March each year.

Practicing in Canada as a Physiotherapist

The CAPR assists internationally trained physiotherapists to get their Canadian licenses. They work on behalf of provinces who provide the license to practice (except Quebec, which has its own process).

After you’ve completed your Australian physiotherapy degree, you’ll have 3 stages to become a licensed physio in Canada:

  • Stage 1: Review of Your Credentials
  • Stage 2: Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE)
  • Stage 3: Apply for Provincial Licensure

Read more about the physiotherapy licensing process.


Would you like to know more about studying physiotherapy in Australia? Contact OzTREKK’s Rehabilitation Sciences Team at for more info. We’ll walk you through the whole process—from application to arrival!