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                               Therapy Careers

In this section you will find information on the following careers:


Chiropractor                            Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

Physical Therapist                   Occupational Therapist

Recreational Therapist            Orthotist and Prosthetist

Respiratory Therapist




What they do: Chiropractors work with patients with

problems of the neuromuscular system. These include

problems with nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments and

tendons. They manipulate body parts to relieve

discomfort and improve patient health.

   Chiropractors have to review a patient’s medical

history and perform a physical exam. They analyze the patient’s posture, spine and reflexes and conduct tests and often order x-rays. Chiropractors perform therapy to adjust a patient’s spinal column and joints and provide treatments such as heat or cold packs to affected areas.


   Chiropractors concentrate on overall health and include issues with a patient’s diet and exercise.

Education/Training: Chiropractors have an advanced

degree (Ph.D). They first complete a 3-4 year under-

graduate program and then a 4 year program to

specialize in chiropracty.

   Undergraduate programs include courses in education,

liberal arts, physics, chemistry and biology. Their advanced degree coursework includes studies in anatomy, physiology and biology.

   All states require chiropractors to be licensed. They must also pass a national exam. Many states also require a chiropractor to pass a background check.


Salary:  The average wage for chiropractors is $70, 240 per year. The lowest 10% earned less than $35,290 per year and the highest 10% earned more than $147,480 per year. Wages vary greatly depending on place of employment, location of practice and number of years in practice.


Orthotist and Prosthetist

What They Do: Orthotists and prosthetists design

medical support devices such as artificial arms,

hands, legs, and feet. They also design braces and

other medical and surgical devices.

   Orthotists and prosthetists have to do many 

different tasks in performing their work. They

interview patients to find out what they need, they

take measurements so patients can be fitted to the artificial limb supports, they select materials to be used for the device, and they repair or replace a device if needed.


   Orthotists and prosthetists perform a valuable service for their patients. If you are interested in this rewarding career, read more below about how to become an orthotist or prosthetist.

Education/Training: Orthotists and prosthetists need a master’s degree in orthotics and prostetics. They study human anatomy and have concentrated studies in the functions of orthotics in all areas of the body. They also work under the direction of an orthotist for part of their training.

   In addition to their master’s degree studies, they complete a residency program that usually lasts one year. They must also pass certification exam in order to be licensed to practice orthotics and prosthetics.


Salary:  The average wage for orthotists and prosthetists is $68,410 per year. The lower 10% earned less than $41,360 and the highest 10% earned more than $108,130 per year. Wages depend on the place of employment. For example, those who work in medical equipment manufacturing companies earn about $74,400 per year while those who work in hospitals earn about $63, 270 per year.


Physical Therapist

   Have you ever had an injury that took a long time to

heal? Did your leg or arm have to be in a cast after you

broke it? When you got the cast off you may have had

to go to physical therapy to get it working right again.

   Did you wonder at how your therapist knew exactly

what to do to help you get better?

   Read on to find out more about a career in physical therapy.


What They Do:  Physical therapists work with physicians to help people move better and with less pain. They diagnose patients’ conditions by watching them move and listening to their concerns. They then develop plans of care for helping patients to be able to do the activities they did before an injury or illness.

   Physical therapists use exercises, hands-on therapy and equipment. They help patients increase their ability to move, decrease pain and prevent further injuries. They monitor patient progress and make adjustments in their care.

                                                      Education/Training: Physical therapists need a                                                                Doctor of Physical Therapy degree (an advanced                                                            degree earned after a 4-year college degree). The                                                            advanced degree is a 3-year program. Students                                                              study human anatomy, biology, chemistry, physics                                                            and physiology. There are some programs in which                                                          students can enter as college freshmen and graduate with a DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) in six or seven years. Students in a DPT program also complete clinical work. This provides experience in patient care outside the classroom setting.

   All states require physical therapists to be licensed. Students must pass a national test to get licensed. Most states also require continuing education to maintain licensure.


Salary: The average salary for physical therapists is $89,440 per year. The lowest 10% earned less than $63,120 per year and the highest 10% earned more than $124,740 per year.


Recreational therapists  

   Do you like the idea of using play to help people overcome problems? Do you think you would enjoy using recreation-based treatment to help people with disabilities, injuries or other illnesses?

   Read on to find out if this career is for you!


What They Do: Recreational therapists use recreation-

based treatments to improve injuries, illnesses or

conditions of disabilities. They plan and coordinate

programs for treatment.

   Recreational therapists use arts and crafts, music,

dance, sports and games to improve a patient’s

physical, social and emotional well-being. They assess a patient’s condition and work with other medical professionals and the patient’s family to decide on the best course of treatment. They plan and implement the programs and teach patients how to cope and improve their health.

Education/Training: Recreational therapists usually need a backelor’s degree. Most will need to be certified and licensed by the national council of recreational therapists.

Students interested in a career being a recreational therapist will study human anatomy, medical terminology and illnesses and disabilities. Most programs include an internship.

Salary: The average salary of a recreational therapist is $48,220 per year. The lowest 10% earned less than $30,880 per year and the highest 10% earned more than $77,970 per year.

   Wages vary with the place of employment. For example, recreational therapist who work in government facilities earned $60,140 per year while those who work in nursing care facilities earned $42,110 per year.


 Respiratory Therapists

   Do you know someone with breathing problems?

Maybe your brother has asthma or maybe your

grandmother has to use oxygen to help her breathe. 

They have probably seen a respiratory therapist who

has helped them to feel better and breathe more easily.

Read on to find out if you would like a career in respiratory therapy!


What They Do: Respiratory therapists evaluate and treat patients with breathing problems. They work under the supervision of a doctor and perform tests and pulmonary (lung) treatments.

   Respiratory therapists also develop healthcare and treatment plans for all types of breathing problems. They treat different types of patients such as premature infants and people with asthma, emphysema, or lung cancer. They give breathing treatments and provide oxygen for patients who cannot get enough oxygen on their own.


                                                      Education/Training: Respiratory therapists must                                                               receive at least a two-year (associate) degree and all                                                       states except Alaska require respiratory therapists to                                                       pass a certification exam to be licensed. There are 4-                                                       year respiratory therapy programs at many colleges                                                         and universities.

   As in all medical professions, respiratory therapists must be compassionate and have good problem-solving and science and math skills.

Salary: The average salary for respiratory therapists is $60, 280 per year, but this wage varies slightly on the place of employment. Respiratory therapists who work in hospitals earn slightly more than those who work in doctors’ offices or nursing care facilities. Some respiratory therapists earn more than $83,520 per year.


Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

 An occupation is a job or profession. Occupational health

and safety specialists work to make conditions safer in the

workplace. Many workplace injuries can sometimes be

avoided if certain conditions are improved if workers know

how to move through their work.

If this sounds like interesting work to you, read on to find out more!

What They Do: Occupational health and safety specialists help workers on the job and also the general public stay safe by inspecting work places and testing environmental conditions. They design safer work sites, inspect machinery, and study work practices to reduce accidents.

   They also watch workers on the job to promote proper movements. Moving properly can increase comfort and prevent injuries. For example, proper movements when lifting heavy objects can greatly reduce back injuries.

   Occupational health and safety specialists often specialize to study different workplaces or actions. They may study storage of hazardous wastes, inspect sites that use radioactive materials, or check for asbestos or pesticide contamination.


Education/Training: Most jobs in this career require at least a 4 year college degree. Some positions require an advanced degree such as a master’s degree.

Salary: The average wage for this profession is about $$73,020 per year. This varies with place of employment, education, and experience. Some occupational health and safety specialists earn over $108,520 per year while others earn a lot less.


Occupational therapist

What they do: Occupational therapists use everyday activities

to treat injured, ill, or disabled patients to improve their health.

They evaluate a patient’s condition and develop a treatment plan

and help their patients work toward goals.


   Occupational therapists are often critical to a patient’s full

recovery. They work with patients to help them recover from

health problems or to help them learn a better way to perform

daily activities. For example, they work to help stroke victims

learn how to do everyday tasks again. They can provide pain

relief for patients by demonstrating exercises to improve their



   They also work with family members to educate them on how to care for the patient and how to improve the home or workplace to provide a better environment.

Occupational therapists often work with children in educational settings. They evaluate disabled children’s abilities and modify classroom equipment to accommodate the disability. Therapists also work with children who are experiencing developmental delays.

Education/Training: Occupational therapist require a master’s degree in occupational therapy. Advanced programs require a bachelors degree (a four year undergraduate degree). Master’s programs usually take 2 – 3 years to complete. Ph.D programs about three and a half years to complete. Both master’s and Ph.D programs require supervised fieldwork in which the student gains clinical experience.

All states require occupational therapists to be licensed and requirements vary by state. Applicants must pass a national exam.

Salary:  The average wage for an occupational therapist is $84,950 per year. The lowest 10% earned less than $56,800 per year and the highest 10% earned more than $121,490 per year.


   Wages vary greatly depending on location and place of employment. For example, occupational therapists who work in nursing care facilities earn about $90,830 per year while those working in elementary and secondary schools earn about $74,670 per year.

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