Physical therapy is a rewarding career. You get to help people with their physical injuries and rehabilitation. There’s nothing quite like seeing people recover from their condition, feel better and improve their quality of life.

But, when it comes to physical therapy job expectations, what do employers want?


In New York, if you intend to use the title “Physical Therapist” or “Physical Therapist Assistant” you must be licensed.

Therefore, in order to be considered for an employment position, and to maintain your employment, you need to ensure you first, have the correct licensure, then maintain any licensing requirements, such as continuing education.

Read our Guide to New York Physical Therapy Licensure here.

Continuing Education

Like most healthcare professions, you will be required to engage in continuing education each year, which is a minimum of 36 contact hours of approved continuing education in each three-year renewal period.

You can read more about physical therapy continuing education courses over here.

physical-therapy-job Physical Therapy Job Expectations

Physical Therapy Job Expectations

On the job expectations will vary slightly depending on what type of organization you work with. For example, working in a private physical therapy practice will be very different to working in a skilled nursing facility (SNF).

Since we help recruit physical therapists for jobs in SNFs, we’ll discuss some of the expectations and tasks you might encounter.

These may include:

  • Treating patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities and rehab treatments
  • Implementing and documenting patient status under the direction of a PT or Rehab Director
  • Communicating with the SNF team on the status, progress, barriers, and needs of your patients
  • Instructing and counseling patients by describing therapeutic treatments; giving normal growth and development information; and promoting wellness and health maintenance
  • Developing and implementing exciting new programs or techniques based on evidence based principles to enhance rehab programs and treatments
  • Preparing documentation, progress notes, reports and discharge summaries as required


Depending on the job you’re being recruited for, some specialty experience may be required. For example, having acute care experience and being familiar with electronic medical records (EMR) systems such as Rehab Optima. Or if you are employed with an SNF who mainly deals with geriatric patients, then having some previous experience in areas required will always work in your favor.

Some jobs may also involve a management/ guidance oriented role. For example, providing guidance to multi-disciplinary staff and collaborating with admin, nursing and clinical staff to improve evidence based practice and treatment outcomes for patients. These types of roles generally require 3+ years of experience.

And without a doubt, as a physical therapist, it will be expected that you have hands on experience with therapeutic exercises, functional training and various physical modalities.

The Bottom Line

Though a physical therapy job does have certain knowledge and task expectations, the one thing most employers look for in employees is a passion for physical therapy practice, commitment to the job and patient outcomes, effective communication skills and self motivation.

If you’re looking for a physical therapy job, please search our job listings here.