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Helping people feel better doesn't always involve medicine and invasive procedures. Many medical professionals assist individuals back to health through various forms of therapy.

Therapists come in a wide variety. They may help a person speak more clearly or assist an athlete after an injury. Whatever type of therapy interests you, TheBestSchools has compiled career information to help you decide if this is the career for you.

In this section we have provided a thorough review of the therapy careers you're interested in. Learn about daily activities, the salary, the employment outlook, the education requirements and much more.

After you read through this page on Therapy Careers keep browsing our website's extensive career guide for more information on job options, education requirements and salaries.

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Athletic Trainers

Education and Certifications Athletic Trainers Need

People seeking an athletic trainer career typically need at least a Bachelor of Athletic Training degree; many athletic trainers also have a master's degree such as a Master of Athletic training degree. Typically, people seeking a college athletic trainer career need a master's degree.

Most athletic training programs are accredited by The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). Some schools offer a five-year joint bachelor's and master's program.

Most states require certification of athletic trainers, usually through The Independent Board of Certification, Inc. Athletic trainer certification includes passing an exam and taking continuing education courses. Athletic trainers can obtain certification after completing a CAATE-accredited program.

Most states also require licensure of athletic trainers, requirements for athletic trainer licensure varies by state. Certification is usually required prior to licensure.

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What They Do

An athletic trainer can be an injured athlete's best friend. Athletic trainers, not to be mistaken as personal trainers, work to prevent, diagnose, and treat muscle and bone injuries and illnesses; they strive to keep active people healthy and functioning at their best. Athletic trainers work under physicians and other healthcare providers.

Athletic trainers work with everyone from children and elderly to professional athletes and soldiers. When an injury occurs, they're often the first person to help the injured individual.

Certified athletic trainers identify the problem, properly bandage, brace, or tape the injury up, and develop an appropriate rehabilitation program for the individual. An athletic trainer career includes working in injury prevention, developing programs and exercises for athletes to do on a regular basis to prevent injuries.

An athletic trainer career also includes performing administrative work, such as record keeping and report writing on injuries and treatment programs. Athletic trainers also meet with directors to deal with budgeting, purchasing, and policies.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Assistant athletic trainers may advance in their career to a head athletic trainer position, an athletic director job, or a management role as a physician, hospital, or clinic practice administrator.

Athletic trainer career advancement may include advancing into a marketing or sales position, selling medical and athletic equipment.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $46,630
2016, Number of Jobs 27,800
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 23%
Entry-Level Education Requirements Bachelor’s Degree
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $69,530
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $30,740

 

Chiropractors

Education and Certifications Chiropractors Need

Individuals seeking a chiropractor career must obtain a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and a state license. Commonly, students earn a bachelor's degree prior to entering a chiropractic program. The Council on Chiropractic Education has accredited Fifteen Doctor of Chiropractic degree programs.

If a chiropractor plans to specialize in an area, such as radiology or pediatrics, he may complete a residency after graduation in order to gain additional experience in their specialty.

Chiropractors must obtain a state license prior to beginning their practice; requirements for the license vary by state, although they all require a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and passing an exam. Most states also require continuing education courses to maintain a license.

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What They Do

Individuals with chronic back and neck issues tend to be extremely loyal to their Chiropractors. A chiropractor helps patients with various issues related to the musculoskeletal system through spinal manipulation and other techniques.

A chiropractor career includes speaking with new patients, gaining knowledge of their medical background and concerns, and also performing a physical, before determining the appropriate treatment for a patient. Chiropractors take x-rays and assess their patients' posture, offering advice on improving it, as well as other adjustments to their lifestyle, exercise, and sleeping patterns to help reduce overall discomfort.

Chiropractor careers include manually performing spinal manipulations and join adjustments on their patients on a regular basis. Chiropractors sometimes apply heat or cold packs to specific areas on a patient's body, employ acupuncturists or massage therapists, or even refer patients to other medical specialists if the injury is beyond what small adjustments to the musculoskeletal can resolve.

Chiropractors can have a general practice or specialize in sports injuries, neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, nutrition, internal disorders, or diagnostic imaging. Solo or group practices are common for chiropractors, with larger practices employing an office manager to handle administrative work.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $68,640
2016, Number of Jobs 47,400
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 12%
Entry-Level Education Requirements Doctoral or Professional Degree
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $144,730
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $34,550

 

Massage Therapists

Education and Certifications Massage Therapists Need

Education and training for massage therapists varies by state and locality. Typically, individuals seeking a massage therapist career need a high school diploma and complete a massage therapy education program provided by a private or public postsecondary institution requiring 500 hours of study.

Schools provide full-time and part-time programs and often offer job placement and continuing education. Some schools offer an Associate in Massage Therapy degree program or a Diploma in Massage Therapy program.

The majority of states require massage therapists to obtain a license or certificate and pass an exam prior to practicing. In the states that do not require a massage therapist to obtain a license or a certificate, there may be specific regulations at the local level.

Two nationally recognized tests for massage therapists are the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) and the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCETMB).

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What They Do

Massage therapists are a lot of people's best friend. Massage therapists really get into their work, using their hands, fingers, forearms, elbows, and sometimes even feet to manually manipulate soft-tissue muscles to help people relax, relieve pain, rehabilitate injuries, and reduce stress. A massage therapist career may also include using lotions, oils, massage tables, massage chairs, and medical heat lamps.

An appointment with a massage therapist begins with a discussion about the client's goals and expectations of the massage, as well as a description of any ailment or injury the client aims to alleviate with the message.

A massage therapist then massages the desired area specified by the client, as well as any related areas that may help with pain relief, healing, or stress reduction. At the end of an appointment, a massage therapist may teach the client some stretches, strengthening moves, or posture adjustments that may further help with a particular issue.

Massage therapists may specialize in specific types of message, such as Swedish massage, deep-tissue massage or sports massage. Many massage therapists specialize in several different types of massage.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $39,990
2016, Number of Jobs 160,300
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 26%
Entry-Level Education Requirements Postsecondary Nondegree Award
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $77,470
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $20,300

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

Education and Certifications Occupational Health and Safety Specialists Need

People seeking an occupational health and safety specialist career typically need a Bachelor of Occupational Health and Safety degree or a bachelor degree in a related technical or scientific field such as engineering, biology, or chemistry. Depending on the position, a Masters of Industrial Hygiene, Masters of Health Physics, or a related subject, may be also required. Some schools provide a Master of Occupational Health and Safety degree.

Employers of occupational health and safety specialists place a high value on work experience, thus internships are highly recommended, although not required.

Beyond the standards laws and procedures learned in their education, occupational health and safety specialists receive on-the-job training for their specific work situation.

Certification for occupational health and safety specialists is voluntary but highly encouraged due to the advantage certification provides when job searching. Multiple organizations offer certification; which organization to go through depends on which field the occupational health and safety specialist specializes in.

Occupational health and safety specialists must complete periodic continuing education courses to maintain their certification.

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What They Do

If you work outside of the home, odds are you owe at least part of your safety and health each day at the office to an occupational health and safety specialist. Not everyone thinks about how someone must inspect and analyze workspaces to ensure optimal health, safety, and comfort to employees, but this is precisely what occupational health and safety specialists do.

There's probably more that could potentially harm people at work than most people realize. An occupational health and safety specialist career includes identifying chemicals, physical, radiological and biological hazards in a workplace. Sometimes to identify such material, they collect samples and run analysis on them. Occupational health and safety specialist careers also include ensuring work environments, equipment, and practices comply with safety standards and government regulations.

Occupational health and safety specialists work at avoiding future hazards or accidents by assessing how accidents happened initially and then what needs to change to avoid them in the future. Some occupational health and safety specialists develop and conduct employee safety and training programs, covering topics as varied as how to correctly use equipment to how to respond to an emergency.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $67,720
2016, Number of Jobs 101,800
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 8%
Entry-Level Education Requirements Bachelor’s Degree
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $105,840
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $41,670

 

Occupational Therapists

Education and Certifications Occupational Therapists Need

An occupational therapy career begins with obtaining a Master of Occupational Therapy degree, with some programs also offering a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy degree.

Acceptance into an occupational therapy education program requires a Bachelor degree, classes in biology and physiology, and some prior work experience in an occupational therapy setting.

Some colleges and universities offer five-year programs which combine a bachelor's and master's degree in occupational therapy. All occupational therapy programs require supervised fieldwork.

Although occupational therapist certification is voluntary, most occupational therapists acquire certification. Occupational therapy certification provides an edge when job seeking.

Certification for occupational therapists involves passing an exam administered by the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists. After passing the exam, the professional may use the title of Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR). An occupational therapist must take continuing education courses to maintain certification.

Every state requires occupational therapists to have a license. Licensure requires graduation from an accredited program, certification and additional state-specific requirements.

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What They Do

Occupational therapists play a major role in making someone with a disability gain more freedom and independence. Occupational therapists work with injured, ill, or disabled individuals, developing ways for these individuals to get around and perform duties for themselves easier, as well as relieving some pain.

An occupational therapist career involves some sleuthing and innovation; occupational therapists discover the medical history, the current struggles, and the future goals of their clients. They use the information to create a treatment plan and daily exercises for an individual.

An occupational therapist career involves evaluating an individual's home or working environment to suggest ways to improve the environment. An occupational therapist may suggest new equipment for the environment or educate a client's family members or employer on ways to better meet the individual's needs.

A variety of people benefit from working with an occupational therapist, including the elderly, people with permanent disabilities, people with mental or emotional disorders, school-age children, and infants and toddlers at risk of having developmental delays.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $83,200
2016, Number of Jobs 130,400
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 24%
Entry-Level Education Requirements Master’s Degree
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $120,440
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $54,560

 

Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Education and Certifications Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides Need

An occupational therapy assistant career may begin with an Associate of Occupational Therapy Assistant degree; community colleges and technical schools provide the degrees.

Occupational therapy aides generally have a high school diploma or equivalent and receive several months of on-the-job training working under supervision of experienced assistants or aides.

In most states occupational therapy assistants need a license. Individuals seeking to acquire an occupational assistant license need to graduate from an accredited program and passing an exam. Some states also require continuing education courses.

Occupational therapy aides are not required to have a license.

An occupational therapy assistant who graduated from an accredited program can acquire occupational therapy assistant certification after passing an exam provided by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. Certification is not required, but certification provides an advantage during the job seeking process and allows people with certification to use the title Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).

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What They Do

Occupational therapy assistants and occupational therapy aides work with occupational therapists to make the lives of individuals with disabilities, injuries or illnesses easier and better. They find ways to make their clients' lives more manageable. Occupational therapy assistants report a patient's progress to an occupational therapist.

Occupational therapy assistants usually work directly with patients, providing therapy. An occupational therapy assistant teaches patients how to use special equipment and ensure patients use the equipment correctly.

Occupational therapy aides generally provide office support for occupational therapists, such as scheduling, filing, answering the phone, preparing therapy areas, assembling therapy equipment, helping clients with insurance forms, and billing patients.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Occupational therapy assistants and occupational therapy aides may chose to take continuing education to become occupational therapists.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $56,690
2016, Number of Jobs 46,800
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 28%
Entry-Level Education Requirements Associate Degree
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $59,100
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $20,730

Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides

Education and Certifications Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides Need

People seeking a physical therapist assistant career are required in most states to have an associate degree from a physical therapist program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. They must also obtain CPR certification.

A physical therapy assistant desiring a job in administration, management, or education typically needs to continue their education. Many schools offer a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate degree program.

Physical therapy aides generally must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Physical therapist aides receive on-the-job training for a few weeks to a few months.

In most states people interested in a physical therapist assistant career need a license. Licensure usually involves graduating from an accredited physical therapist assistant program, passing the National Physical Therapy Exam, and perhaps some state-specific exams or continuing education courses. Physical therapist aides don't need a license.

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What They Do

Physical therapist assistants and physical therapist aides work as a team with a physical therapist; all playing important roles in helping patients recover from injury, illness, or surgery.

Physical therapist assistant careers include working directly with patients, providing messages, helping with stretching, and helping them perform exercises designed by a physical therapist to promote healing and health.

A physical therapist assistant career includes keeping records of all patient progress or regression for the physical therapist to review and then alter exercises or treatment as needed. A physical therapy assistant career also includes speaking with patients and their family members about how to properly follow-up treatment.

Physical therapist aides work more on the clerical side of a physical therapy office, setting up therapy areas, cleaning, answering phones, scheduling, working out payments with clients, and handling insurance claims.

Physical therapy aides occasionally work directly with patients, helping them move from one therapy area to another; however, if a physical therapy aide works in a state requiring licensure of physical therapist assistants, then an aide may not perform any tasks involving direct patient care.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $46,920
2016, Number of Jobs 140,300
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 30%
Entry-Level Education Requirements Associate Degree
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $38,490
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $19,620

 

Physical Therapists

Education and Certifications Physical Therapists Need

A physical therapist career generally begins with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Much less common is a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree.

Physical therapist students participate in clinical rotations, gaining valuable work experience under the supervision of a professional. Following graduation, physical therapists also often complete a residency lasting anywhere from nine months to three years.

Although all states require licensure for people with a physical therapist career, the requirement for licensure varies by state. Generally, licensure requirements involve passing the National Physical Therapy Examination or a parallel state-administered exam. Some states also require physical therapists to take continuing education courses to maintain their license.

Physical therapists can obtain a board certification in a clinical specialty, such as pediatrics or sports physical therapy.

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What They Do

Physical therapists are those professionals you hope you never have to see, but if you do, you're extremely grateful they are around. Physical therapists work with individuals suffering from injuries, illnesses, or birth conditions to help them regain more mobility and reduce or manage pain.

A physical therapy career includes studying patients' medical history, interviewing patients and closely observing their movements in order to produce a diagnosis and develop a plan.

Rehabilitation plans include any combination of exercises, stretches, hands-on therapy, heat and cold compresses and additional equipment. A physical therapist career includes regularly monitoring a patient's progress and adjusting the plan or including new treatments as needed.

Equally as important to their physical contributions to a patient's recovery, physical therapists are also responsible for educating patients and their family members about realistic expectations during recovery and how to cope with the outcome.

A physical therapist career may include overseeing physical therapists assistants and physical therapy aides. They also consult with doctors, surgeons, and other specialists.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $86,850
2016, Number of Jobs 239,800
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 28%
Entry-Level Education Requirements Doctoral or Professional Degree
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $122,650
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $59,080

 

Recreational Therapists

Education and Certifications Recreational Therapists Need

Typically, people seeking a recreational therapist career need a Bachelor in Therapeutic Recreation degree and certification. However, in some cases, recreation therapists may qualify for certification with a different form of combined education, training, and experience. Some students also gain internship experience working in local clinics and hospitals.

A Master in Recreation Therapy degree helps individuals obtain an administrative position in the recreation therapy field.

Hospitals and clinics often require recreational therapists to attain certification from the NCTRC (National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification). The organization offers the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential to individuals who pass a written exam and complete an internship of at least 480 hours.

NCTRC also offers specialized certification in different areas such as behavioral health, physical rehabilitation and developmental disabilities. In addition, some states also require a recreational therapist to obtain a license.

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What They Do

A recreational therapist career attracts extremely patient people who enjoy being active and gain a great sense of accomplishment by helping people.

Recreational therapists organize and implement recreational and therapeutic programs for people with disabilities or illnesses. Recreation therapists use many techniques such as drama, dance, relaxation methods, sports, and music to help maintain or improve a patient's psychological and physical health.

Recreational therapist careers include reviewing a patient's medical chart, history and interests as well as discussing objectives with the patient's medical team and family members to develop a recreation therapy plan to quickly aid the client in becoming healthier and more independent. Recreational therapist careers also involve submitting reports and reviews to the medical and treatment team to demonstrate a patient's progression or regression.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $47,680
2016, Number of Jobs 19,200
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 7%
Entry-Level Education Requirements Bachelor’s Degree
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $74,210
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $29,570

 

Respiratory Therapists

Education and Certifications Respiratory Therapists Need

Respiratory therapists typically need at least an associate degree, but some employers may prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree.

Colleges and universities, technical institutes, and the Armed Forces offer training in respiratory therapy and many have supervised clinical programs that help students gain experience in real life situations.

Some schools provide an Associate in Respiratory Care degree or a Bachelor in Respiratory Care degree or a Bachelor in Respiratory Therapy degree.

Respiratory therapists need a license in all states except Alaska. Most employers hire therapists with national certification. The National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) offers two levels of certification: the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). Contact a state health board for more information about requirements for respiratory therapist certification.

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What They Do

A respiratory therapist career attracts compassionate people who seek to help patients suffering from breathing problems and cardiopulmonary disorders.

Respiratory therapists provide emergency services to people who experience sudden health problems such as heart attacks or shock. Respiratory therapist careers may include working with babies with undeveloped lungs as well as with patients with lung diseases, such as emphysema.

A typical day for a licensed or certified respiratory therapist includes working with doctors and other health care staff to develop treatment plans, educating patients on how to use these treatments and evaluating patients with various tests that measure oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

A respiratory therapist career involves connecting patients who can not breathe on their own to ventilators. A respiratory therapist career also includes providing educational programs to the public on issues such as the dangers of smoking.

Respiratory therapists record progress of treatment and makes house calls to educate family members on different respiratory devices.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $59,710
2016, Number of Jobs 130,200
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 23%
Entry-Level Education Requirements Associate Degree
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $83,030
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $43,120

 

Speech-Language Pathologists

Education and Certifications Speech-Language Pathologists Need

Speech-language pathologists need a master's degree, supervised experience and a license (in most states) to begin a speech-language pathology career. Many colleges and universities offer a Master in Speech-Language Pathology degree program.

Employers favor certification; speech-language pathologists can attain the Certificate of Clinical Competence Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Certification satisfies most or all the necessary requirements to acquire a license.

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What They Do

A speech-language pathologist career attracts people interested in all facets of human speech and sound and also enjoy science and technology as well as helping and treating people.

Speech-language pathologists assess, diagnose and treat patients who have fluency, swallowing, speech, language, and voice disorders. Speech pathologists work with a large range of patients from people who suffered from strokes and brain injuries to people affected by stuttering or emotional problems.

A typical workday for speech pathologists consists of thoroughly evaluating patients with a series of standard tests to determine the severity of their speech disorder or disability and designing the best treatment plan for them.

A speech-language pathologist career involves teaching a number of techniques to help patients overcome their disability or disorder such as alternative communication methods, sign language and strengthening swallowing muscles. A speech language therapy career also includes keeping patient records, scheduling case management activities, presenting a final evaluation at the end of treatment and discharging patients.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $76,610
2016, Number of Jobs 145,100
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 18%
Entry-Level Education Requirements Master’s Degree
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $118,910
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $48,830

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