Career Guide


Ben Maples  · Nov 30th 2021

As the world of medical care evolves, more and more people have begun to take their medical training into different areas of practice. Plenty of people work in different areas, and the role of a Physiotherapist means that you can work literally anywhere!

Physiotherapy session

But what does a Physiotherapist do and how do you become one? Well, we’ve compiled a useful career guide for you here, so let’s jump in, shall we?

Physiotherapist Career Guide

What is a physiotherapist?

Physiotherapy involves helping patients with physical difficulties resulting from injury, ageing, disability or illness. The physiotherapist job will revolve around improving their movement and reducing the risk of further problems or damage arising in the future.

As part of the physiotherapist role, you will meet patients to assess their disorder or physical situation, and after making a diagnosis, you’ll design and review appropriate treatment. Programmes will use a variety of techniques, including therapeutic, electrotherapy, manual therapy and electrotherapy.

The role of physiotherapist includes promoting health and wellbeing and providing advice on how to manage long-term conditions and disabilities. A physiotherapist job role will treat patients of all ages, from the elderly to children, and will involve patients with detailed medical history - like strokes - or those with sports injuries.

Physiotherapists need superb communication, interpersonal and organisational skills for the role.

What are the roles and responsibilities of a physiotherapist?

Physiotherapist responsibilities include working with patients with an array of conditions, from neurological to cardiovascular.

In some cases, you may see patients over a long period of several weeks. The physiotherapy career allows you to develop and review treatment programmes, write patient cases notes and collect statistics. They will diagnose, assess and treat patients and their physical conditions. Educating patients and carers on the treatment, rehabilitation and prevention or ways to improve conditions are also essential tasks.

A physiotherapist will write reports, case notes and analyse statistics. Individuals will liaise with other healthcare professionals, including social workers, GPs and occupational therapists. Also, they may supervise student and junior physiotherapists. They are caring, professional, empathetic and compassionate individuals at all times. Lastly, this role will manage clinical risk and be legally accountable and responsible.

The physiotherapist job will revolve around improving their movement and reducing the risk of further problems or damage arising in the future.

How to become a physiotherapist in the UK?

What are the qualifications needed to be a physiotherapist? First, physiotherapist qualifications are required to work within the industry as you will offering advice and treatment plans regarding patient’s health and wellbeing.

The skills of a physiotherapist can be taught through physiotherapy qualifications, like a three-year full-time undergraduate course accredited by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Programmes, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, are also certified by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists. To gain entry onto the degree, candidates tend to need two or three good A-Levels, or equivalent, usually including a biological science, biology or human biology, or PE qualification.

Most universities ask for five GCSE qualifications at grade C or above, including English language, sciences and maths. Universities offer part-time courses, typically aimed at physiotherapist support workers working towards a chartered physiotherapist role.

If you are not working within a healthcare setting before university, you can still work towards a chartership by undertaking an accredited degree.

If you have a degree already, individuals can join a two-year accelerated postgraduate course. Entry requirements tend to include a 2:1 degree in behavioural science, biology , sports science or physiology.

Physiotherapists also need to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Both routes include practical training and theory. Institutions set their entry requirements for the university and the course, so it’s worth checking these before you apply.

From September 2020, pre-registration undergraduate and postgraduate students in physiotherapy can receive £5,000 in funding per year. Also, there is a further £3,000 funding for eligible students. Both types of financing do not need to be paid back, and students can still apply for tuition or maintenance loans from the Student Loans Company.

Careers in physiotherapy can either be through the National Health Service (NHS) or in private practices. NHS physiotherapy training can be learned through a degree or postgraduate course, as mentioned above. The NHS is the major employer of physiotherapists in the UK, with the skills needed in most departments. A chartered physiotherapist can work in the community or the private sector, from private clinics and hospitals to schools and GP practices.

Physiotherapist Career

What are the skills needed to be a physiotherapist?

Physiotherapists need superb communication, interpersonal and organisational skills for the role. Also, being able to establish a rapport quickly with families and patients, maintain relationships with professionals in their multidisciplinary teams - like social workers, doctors, nurses and occupational therapists - are essential.

A physiotherapist is tolerant, sensitive, encouraging, patient and empathetic to their patients. They’ll have a genuine concern for the health and wellbeing for individuals and interest in physiology and anatomy. Physiotherapist skills include being great at solving problems, managing time and be able to work under pressure and to deadlines.

How much does a physiotherapist earn in the UK?

Now, how much do physiotherapists earn in the UK? Physiotherapist salary in the UK under the NHS consists of nine pay bands, and typically are covered by the Agenda for Change (Afc) pay rates.

A physiotherapist starting salary ranges from £24,214 to £30,112, this is also known as band 5 physiotherapist salary. The physiotherapist’s average salary for senior roles starts at £30,401 and increases to £37,267. A band 7 physiotherapist salary ranges between £37,570 and £43,772. NHS physio salary for Band 8a covers those working in advanced practice, clinical lead and extended scope and sits at around £50,819.

In some cases, you may see patients over a long period of several weeks.

A physiotherapists salary rises between £52,306 and £60,983 at Band 8b for consultancy positions. The physiotherapy pay scale increases even more for management roles, like Head of Service, and is usually over £60,000 for Band 8c. Therefore, the NHS physiotherapist salary is generally within these bands.

How much do physiotherapists make in private practice? The physiotherapist starting salary may differ to the NHS but is usually around the same amount at the beginning. After gaining physiotherapy work experience, salaries can be much higher, around £75,000, with the combination of experience, skills and knowledge.

Physiotherapist wage in the UK can also differ with location, and those working in London and the surrounding areas receiving a high-cost area supplement up to 20% of their basic salary. Further, the physical therapist salary in the UK may vary from a sports physiotherapist salary who is in the private sector and specialises in sports injuries and clients only.

Due to the physiotherapist description of working with patients of all ages and conditions and abilities, individuals can also work self-employed or freelance. A physical therapist - salary rate excluded - can gain valuable experience in both the NHS or private practice, which can help you progress to more senior roles and eventually consultancy level. For example, a band 7 physiotherapist may choose to work in private practice after several years within the NHS.


Can you work as a physiotherapist remotely?

Unfortunately, as you’ll be meeting, assessing and treating patients in a clinical setting; this job is not viable for remote working. You may be able to write reports, research and keep up to date with medical developments in the field from home, but working remotely isn’t an option. Physiotherapists are in the NHS, GP services, health centres and private practice.

What are physiotherapy prospects?

Now we know the physiotherapy wages, the next step is learning of where the career can take you. Working within the NHS offers a defined career structure, allowing you to work your way up to an advanced level, and gaining experience in different specialities.

A physiotherapist will diagnose, assess and treat patients and their physical conditions.

Typically you may work in a rotational role and work in various departments to obtain knowledge in an array of specialisms. You may then choose to stay in a particular area, like with children. Those working in advanced roles can investigate conditions, order radiographic imaging tests, and after training and experience, provide injection therapy and prescribe medicines.

Some individuals choose to progress into managerial positions where they will look over budgets, staff and general management. There is also the option of moving into teaching, research or training. Additionally, physiotherapists may move into the private sector and eventually set up a practice themselves, where they will work on a freelance, consultancy or self-employed basis.

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