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How to Build your Resume for a Physical Therapy Career
The expert suggestions and resume examples below will help give your resume a boost.
Career Track: Physical Therapy
A physical therapy career is a good fit for job seekers who are passionate about helping others, and providing physical and emotional support to patients. This career track includes jobs ranging from physical therapy aide and physical therapy assistant to more senior positions such as senior physical therapist. Physical therapy is a booming field; according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist jobs are projected to grow by 18% by 2029, much faster than the average for other occupations.
Physical Therapy Aide $27,000 Median Salary
Resume Format: Functional Resume
Use a functional format to craft your resume for this position, as employers are more interested in the skills needed for physical therapy rather than work experience. Include important abilities such as patient monitoring, administrative support and documentation and supervision of therapy equipment.
Summary: Make this section short and crisp, highlighting your best skills, work experience, and accomplishments within a few sentences. For example: “Compassionate physical therapy aide with 2 years’ experience facilitating rehabilitative processes. Well-versed in providing caring, attentive treatment for patients.”
Skills to feature: Highlight your proficiency in technical areas (e.g., proficiency in important software such as Microsoft Office, knowledge of equipment, knowledge of medical terminology, CPR and First Aid, data analysis) as well as soft skills (e.g., ability to work in stressful situations, interpersonal skills, patience, customer service accountability and organizational ability).
Go to the next level: To climb career ladder, focus on the following areas as you update your resume:
- Associate degree in physiotherapy, medical sciences, nursing, or a related field.
- Valid licensure from the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy to become a certified PTA.
- Show examples of your skills in treatment planning, rehabilitation, patient care and therapy.
- Gain clinical experiences by working closely with licensed senior physical therapists.
- Add relevant certifications, such as Physical Therapy Aide Certification from the AMCA.
Physical Therapist Assistan $58,790 Median Salary
Resume Format: Combination Resume
As this position favors candidates who have some experience and the right skill set, use the combination format, which gives due weight to your relevant skills and work experiences. Highlight accomplishments from previous jobs that tie in with what your potential employer needs focusing on patient supervision and treatment.
Summary: In a few short sentences, tell employers right off the bat why you’re a good match for the job combining your best skills and work accomplishments. For example: “Enthusiastic physical therapist assistant dedicated to helping patients achieve functional mobility.”
Skills to feature: Browse through the posting for the job you’re interested in to note the specific skills required, such as “team supervision” or “interpersonal skills,” and highlight these skills in your resume. Other skill keywords to be on the lookout for include interpersonal skills, CPR, ultrasound, EMR, equipment maintenance, therapeutic techniques and EPIC knowledge.
Go to the next level: To take the next step in your career, focus on the following experiences and skills in your resume:
- Advanced degree in physical therapy, such as a doctoral degree in physical therapy from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
- Additional training or certificates in related areas, such as Certification from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in Geriatrics, Neurology and Orthopedics.
- Highlight recognitions, awards or accomplishments from your work experience, especially in administration, management and excellent customer service.
Physical Therapist $89,440 Median Salary
Resume Format: Chronological Resume
For this more experienced position, use the chronological format, which prioritizes relevant professional experience and achievements. In your work history section, emphasize your ability to manage processes and teams (e.g. “Provided on-the-job training to new physical therapy aides” and “Collaborated with medical personnel to provide best care practices”).
Summary: Show job recruiters your best strengths here, blending skills with work achievements. For example: “Hard-working PTA with 10 years of experience, capable of handling patient administration accurately and efficiently. Accountable and responsible, dedicated to better patient wellness.”
Skills to feature: Present yourself as a multi-talented and passionate individual by showcasing both your practical knowledge and personal attributes. Categorize your abilities in two sections: Hard Skills (e.g. “home health care,” “injury diagnosis,” “splinting capability,” “non-manual exercise,” “wound care treatment,” “patient assessment,” “Medicaid billing,”) and Soft Skills (e.g. “interpersonal skills,” “active listening,” “time management,” “patience,” “empathy,” “persuasive” and “communication skills”).
Go to the next level: To move up to a senior-level position like Physical Therapy Manager, Orthopedic Surgeon, or Director of Physical Therapy, focus on the following in your resume:
- Specialization in a specific field (e.g., certification for hand therapy).
- Examples of work accomplishments where you’ve managed teams and junior therapists.
- Showcase your ability handling patient appointments, rehabilitation programs and other managerial-level tasks.
- Examples of successfully creating patient treatment plans for PT, occupational therapy, or other services.
Career Track: Therapy Management
If you’re patient, committed to fitness, dedicated, detail-oriented, and a great organizer, you have the right stuff for physical therapy management. With America’s population getting larger (and continuing to age), the need for therapists will continue to grow — make sure your resume stands out from other candidates by following these tips and examples.
Rehabilitation Therapy Aide $31,097 Median Salary
Resume Format: Functional Resume
For jobs like these which emphasize skills and training rather than extensive experience, go with the functional format for your resume, which breaks your skills into important categories (e.g., “Physical Therapy Skills,” “Administrative Skills,” “Soft Skills”). Focus on your own physical abilities, as well as key soft skills such as interpersonal communication and organization.
Summary statement tip: Feature your top skills and qualifications in a few sentences, highlighting attributes that fit with the job you want. For example: “Enthusiastic, hard-working Therapy Aide well-versed working with individuals with physical disabilities such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy.”
Skills to feature:
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- Physical and massage therapy techniques
- Physical rehabilitation
- Individual and group therapy
- Familiarity with treatment plans
- CPR and First Aid certification
- Organizational skills
- Administrative skills
Get to the next level: Take on new opportunities career by expanding your knowledge and experiences in the following areas:
- Advanced degree in rehabilitation science or related field
- Get professional certifications such as the Physical Therapy Aide certification (AMCA) and Red Cross CPR and First Aid
- Become a registered occupational therapist (OTR), and get licensed by your state for occupational therapy
- Show examples of work responsibilities where you’ve proved your dependability and effectiveness
Occupational Therapist $83,531 Median Salary
Resume Format: Combination Resume
A combination format highlights the qualifications and skills alongside key work accomplishments. Feature your technical knowledge (e.g., physical and psychological assessments, proficiency with adaptive equipment and training) and your best intangible traits (e.g., leadership or flexibility).
Summary statement tip: In a few sentences, describe your strengths and qualifications, focusing on areas that are emphasized in the job posting. For example, if the job stresses working with seniors, you could write: “Reliable Occupational Therapist with over five years of experience working with adult and senior patients. Competent in completing occupational therapy protocols and focused on enabling patients to improve quality of life.”
Skills to feature:
- Patient management
- Intervention planning
- Rehabilitation therapy aide education and training
- Interpersonal communication and compassion
- Goal setting and treatment plans
- CPR and First Aid and state occupational therapist licenses
- Occupational therapist registration (OTR)
- Treatment plans
Get to the next level: If you’re looking to move up to managerial position, look to add the following to your resume:
- Advanced degree in public health, medical, or healthcare administration
- Experience working in different settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities
- Experience that shows you’re capable of managing teams and processes
- Expertise in programs such as Castor EDC
Clinical Manager$90,045 Median Salary
Resume Format: Chronological Resume
This resume format focuses on your work history, including notable achievements and responsibilities, which makes it appropriate for a managerial role such as this one. Emphasize experiences that showcase your ability to coordinate care plans, coordinate with patients and healthcare professionals, manage budgets and billing and supervise staff.
Summary statement tip: Describe your significant accomplishments, including key soft and hard skills, in a few concise sentences. For example: “Clinical Manager with over 13 years of experience as a Registered Nurse, and managing staff members and services in clinical settings. Compassionate and industrious, with excellent interpersonal and organizational skills.”
Skills to feature:
- Healthcare administration
- Patient and staff management
- Emergency situational awareness
- Scheduling and time management
- Team leadership
- HIPAA expertise
- Professional certifications, such as registered nurse practitioner or Certified Medical Manager (CMM)
- Critical thinking
- Professional approach
- Patient education
- Treatment plan management
Get to the next level: If you’re aiming to elevate your career, look into:
- Showing experiences that underline your ability to run healthcare operations, from an outpatient clinic to a hospital department
- Professional certifications in your area of speciality, such as Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM) certification
- Advanced degree or training in behavior analysis, public health administration, or a related discipline
- Proven ability in developing treatment systems that focus on individual patients
- Giving examples of your experience as a Registered Nurse (RN) or licensed clinical social worker (LCSW)
Recommended Physical Therapy Resume Templates
Give your resume a look that stands out from the crowd, using these employer-ready templates.
This layout is easy to read, and easy to customize for different job roles, with a dot design to highlight section headings.
Organized in a two-column layout, this design makes for quick navigation, with a subtle color header to highlight the candidate’s name and contact information.
Featuring the candidate’s initials in a monogram format, this template arranges section headings on the left, making it a breeze to scan.
Physical Therapy Resume FAQs
1.How do you format your resume based on your career level?
Choose the format for your resume based on these guidelines:
Functional Resume: For entry-level positions, or for jobs for which you don’t have much professional experience, use the functional format, which highlights the skills and strengths you already have, rather than lack of work history.
Combination Resume: The combination format blends both your skills and work experience, making it perfect for intermediate-level jobs that favor some experience, or for a career change in which you can highlight “transferable” qualifications and job accomplishments.
Chronological Resume: For senior-level positions, choose a chronological format which allows you to showcase extensive experience, and how you’ve progressed throughout your career. This format highlights work-related achievements which portray you as a result-oriented candidate.
2.What are some skills that you should put on your resume for a physical therapy career?
- Superior management skills
- Time management
- Patient assessment
- Non-manual exercise
- Advanced anatomy
- Pain management
- Group activities
- Group therapy
- Attention to detail
- Keen learner
- Task scheduling
- Customer service
- Skilled in Medlinks
- Good judgment
- Inventory management
3.What other certifications and training are useful for physical therapy?
Adding areas of special training or certificates to your resume demonstrates your expertise and opens the doors for rewarding job opportunities. Some examples of relevant certifications related to physical therapy include:
- Geriatric Clinical Specialist (GCS)
- Neurology Clinical Specialist (NCS)
- Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS)
- Oncology Specialist
- Pediatric Clinical Specialist (PCS)
- Electrophysiologic Clinical Specialist (ECS)
- Women’s Health Specialist (WCS)
- Wound Management Specialist
- Certificate from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties
- Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Clinical Specialist (CCS)