Honestly, we think physiotherapy is a pretty good career for most people, with a great job outlook, but in this article we’ll provide a few reasons why physiotherapy is not a good career for some people.
If you’re still not sure what physiotherapy is, we’ve compared physiotherapy and physical therapy in this article.
In short, physiotherapy and physical therapy usually refer to the same career, but physiotherapy is more hands-on with soft tissue release, massage, and stretches.
Because physiotherapy and physical therapy are so similar, these points on why physiotherapy is not a good career will apply to both.
Why Physiotherapy is Not a Good Career — 11 Reasons
1. Physiotherapy Requires 8 Years of College
It’s a great job with median pay of over $91,000, but the cost-benefit analysis shifted when physical therapy jobs started requiring a doctorate.
Physiotherapy education is also demanding—you won’t just be coasting through school, either in your undergraduate or graduate years.
When there are other jobs in computer science, engineering, and nursing that pay well with bachelor’s degrees, it’s clear that physiotherapy is more about career satisfaction than financial success.
2. Most Students Take On a Lot of Debt
Racking up six figures of debt can suddenly make life (and physiotherapy) a lot less fun. Most physical therapy students take on a lot of debt to make it through college.
3. You Have to Be Licensed
To be licensed to work as a physical therapist, you must first pass the National Physical Therapy Exam. Then you’ll also need to apply for a license in your state.
It’s not quite the bar exam, but it does mean you can’t work as a physical therapist until you pass the exam. So it kind of is like the bar exam.
4. Residency is Sometimes a Thing
As if eight years isn’t enough, physical therapist residencies are available. This means that some of your classmates are going to do them, and their resumes will look cooler than yours even though you spent eight years in school. Not cool!
Okay, if you’re all about the learning then this is okay, but it’s definitely something to consider. For an example of what physical therapy residencies and fellowships are available, you can check out this page by USC.
5. It’s Physically Demanding
This is not a desk job. Physical therapists are on their feet working with patients most of the day, and at a fast pace too.
This is even more true for physiotherapists, who do a lot of soft tissue releases, massage, and stretching. Massage might sound pleasant, but think about doing it for an eight or twelve hour shift. Ouch.
Just like massage therapists, physiotherapists have to take great care with their technique to avoid injury, and this kind of work can still have a long-term impact on your body.
6. You Need to Stay in Shape
The last point talked about the physical demands of the job, but this is more about appearances. If you gain weight or injure yourself and develop a limp, your ability to perform your job can drop.
Even if you can still do your job, think about a physical therapy interview. Will the manager be inclined to hire a fit dude with six pack abs, or an overweight veteran physical therapist.
It’s good to stay in shape, but it’s not fun to have to stay in shape to avoid judgment from coworkers and patients.
7. Physiotherapists Interact with People All Day
If you love people then this won’t be a con, but it’s something to consider if you’re an introvert. Physiotherapists interact with patients and coworkers all day, every day.
Most of the time, you’ll be meeting new people, making first impressions and conversation, while also having to teach and explain various exercises.
Again, some people like this, but you want to consider it before becoming a physical therapist.
8. You Have to Deal with Healthcare Bureaucracy and Paperwork
One veteran physical therapist in this Reddit thread claimed to spend 6 hours on paperwork for every 8 hour shift, while physical therapist assistants did the actual work. Wow.
Obviously not all jobs will have that much paperwork, but you’ll still be doing paperwork for every single patient you examine, and maybe for patients that the PTAs are working with.
If you become a physical therapist, you’re going to have to deal with healthcare bureaucracy and paperwork.
9. Autonomy is Low
Universities sold the doctorate degrees in physical therapy as a way to get more autonomy, but that has had a greater effect on paperwork than on autonomy.
According to u/animalclub on this Reddit thread, “We’ll never ever have direct access the way it was sold to me as the reason for becoming a doctorate.
“You face many obstacles from your management, referral sources, and patients.” continued u/animalclub.
“Some of these are systemic to the medical system and being very low on the totem pole makes you powerless and a cog in the wheel. Your managements sole job is maximizing visits and units, this will become abundantly clear in a short amount of time.”
That’s a bit if a jaded view, but we’re not going to judge it. Even though physical therapists earn a doctorate, they’re clearly below medical doctors on the totem pole.
10. Work Can Be Stressful
Physiotherapists are under a lot of pressure! First, there’s the pressure from administrators to get in as many visits as possible. Sometimes this means the physiotherapist might feel like they’re not giving enough attention to their patients.
Second, you’re handling a lot of interpersonal interactions, which can take a lot of energy.
Third, there’s always more paperwork to do, and you have to figure out how you’re going to fit it into your schedule.
Work as a physical therapist can be rewarding, but it can also be awfully stressful.
11. Burnout Happens
Because of the previous ten factors, sometimes burnout happens. This is a big deal because physical therapists spend at least eight years in college, and often rack up six figures of debt.
Those who burn out have to find new careers, which often pay less, and the debt doesn’t go away when you stop being a physical therapist.
Physical therapist burnout is a scary reality, so it’s good to job shadow and make sure this is the right career for you.
Hey, we’re not against physical therapy. But we know there are people out there wondering why physiotherapy is not a good career, and it’s not a great career for everyone.
We hope these 11 factors have given you some thoughts to consider, so that you can be confident in your decision to become (or not become) a physiotherapist.
If you’re still considering careers, you can also check out our recap of the best free online career tests on the internet.
We wish you the best in your educational and career decisions!