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How do I start a career in physiotherapy?

By Dan Allard

​Physiotherapists help patients manage pain and facilitate recovery from illnesses, injuries, or disabilities through exercise and manual activities.

What skills should good physiotherapists have?

  • Strong interpersonal skills

  • Patience

  • Excellent knowledge of psychology

  • Ability to work independently as well as part of a multidisciplinary team

  • Good communication skills – report writing is a core function

What qualifications are required to work as a physiotherapist?

Physiotherapists require an approved degree from the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Full-time undergraduate physiotherapy degrees take three years of study. Those who already have a BSc degree in a related area (such as sports science, psychology, or biological science) can participate in a two-year postgraduate training course.

There are two types of apprenticeship available for those who wish to combine training with work experience; those new to the profession, or working in physiotherapy support worker roles, can benefit from a level 6 apprenticeship which is equivalent to the physiotherapy degree. Experienced practitioners wishing to improve their professional development can study for an Advanced Clinical Practice Degree Apprenticeship (level 7). This will allow them to move into new advanced clinical roles.

Do I need to be registered to work as a physiotherapist?

To work as a physiotherapist, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The HCPC is responsible for maintaining professional standards and ensuring continuous professional development amongst their registrants. Registration fees cost £180 and are payable every two years.

Is physiotherapy a protected title?

Yes. This means that by law, only those with an approved qualification and an active registration with the HCPC can use the titles 'Physiotherapist' or 'Physical Therapist'.

What type of work do physiotherapists do?

If you are working in an NHS physiotherapy job, you may be based within a hospital setting, a GP clinic or a walk-in centre. There is scope to work within general settings, or you could specialise in key areas including:

  • Neurology (helping patients to recover from strokes, Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease)

  • Cardiology (such as rehabilitation from heart attacks)

  • Musculoskeletal (this may include working with back pain or sports injuries)

You may decide that you want to specialise in working with specific groups of people, such as older people, children or those impacted by mental health.

Will I get paid to train as a physiotherapist?

From September 2020, future physiotherapists can benefit from a funding boost as the UK government announced plans to offer a minimum of £5,000 grant to cover living costs.

How much do physiotherapists earn?

Physiotherapy earning potential in the NHS is set out by the pay bands set up by Agenda for Change.

Typical starting salaries for physiotherapists (band 5) range between £24-£30k and as you gain experience, there are plenty of opportunities to earn more money. Those working in advanced clinical roles (Band 8a) may earn more than £45-£50k. There are also opportunities to earn more through locum physiotherapy jobs or private practice.

To find out how we can help you start your physiotherapy career, please get in touch.