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Physiotherapist: Alternative Careers

In BC, physiotherapists provide hands-on treatment and design exercise and other treatment plans to help patients with physical difficulties resulting from illness, injury, disability or ageing.

Physiotherapists practice in a range of public and private settings, including hospitals, private clinics, home care, child-development centres, extended care facilities, and health-planning agencies.

You may find that your international training and experience as a physiotherapist are not immediately accepted in B.C. The skills you have acquired as a physiotherapist (understanding of anatomy and pathology, communication, interpersonal and analytical skills, compassion and understanding) can be used in these alternative careers:

  • rehabilitation assistant (NOC 3414)
  • physiotherapy technician (NOC 3237)
  • athletic therapist (NOC 3144)
  • residential care worker / health care aide (NOC 3413)

Rehabilitation Assistant (NOC 3414)

Also look for these job titles: physiotherapy assistant, physical therapy assistant, therapy assistant

You work under the direction of physiotherapists to reduce patients’ pain and help them regain movement. You work in clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, physiotherapists’ offices, and sometimes in private homes and fitness centres.

Duties include:

  • administer treatments such as massages, hot or cold packs, and electrical stimulation
  • monitor patients’ responses and report to the physiotherapist
  • teach exercises to patients, and help them walk or stand up
  • prepare and maintain equipment and supplies
  • routine office functions

Requirements:

  • completion of a recognized Rehabilitation Assistant Program or an equivalent combination of education, training and experience

Skills

  • strong interpersonal and communication skills are essential; you must be patient and keep your clients motivated
  • organizational and time management skills
  • strength and stamina are also required

Wages:

Physiotherapy Technician (NOC 3237)

Also look for this job title: physical therapy technician

You work under the direction of physiotherapists to provide treatment programs such as massage, thermotherapy and hydrotherapy to help injured, disabled or elderly individuals. You work in hospitals, clinics, extended care facilities, rehabilitation centres, and physiotherapy offices.

Duties include:

  • teach and assist patients to regain or maintain the ability to move about and care for themselves through exercise routines and other activities
  • use a variety of equipment including wheel chairs, walking aids, mechanical lifts, exercise equipment and low voltage electrical equipment

Requirements:

  • may require two- to three-year college program in physical rehabilitation therapy
  • may need to complete a period of supervised practical training

Skills:

  • strong interpersonal skills and able to communicate well with a variety of clients and other health-care professionals
  • able to work independently, follow instructions, have good organizational and critical thinking skills
  • physical stamina since you use your arms and hands for therapy and stand for long periods of time

Wages:

Athletic Therapist (NOC 3144)

Also look for the job title: athletic trainer

You help athletes maintain their physical health by teaching them how to avoid injuries, as well as by treating injuries. You may work for sports teams or work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, universities, fitness centres, and sports medicine facilities.

Duties include:

  • teach athletes how to prevent injuries through stretching and exercise
  • assess and treat athletes’ injuries
  • refer injured athletes to doctors if needed
  • develop training programs for players recovering from injury
  • provide players with tensor bandages, braces, and other equipment

Requirements:

  • a relevant post-secondary degree, e.g. athletic therapy, kinesiology, exercise science, or physical education

Skills:

  • manual dexterity and physical stamina
  • strong communication and problem solving skills
  • strong interest in sports

Wages:

Residential Care Worker / Health Care aide (NOC 3413)

Also referred to as hospital aide, patient care aide, nursing aide, orderly, patient service associate

You assist nurses, hospital staff and physicians in the basic care of patients. You work in hospital wards or residential long-term care facilities.

Duties include:

  • assist patients in daily activities such as bathing, dressing and grooming, and eating
  • take basic measurements such as blood pressure, temperature and pulse
  • observe and monitor patients and report changes to supervisor
  • transport patients by wheelchair or stretcher for treatment or surgery
  • make beds and maintain patients’ rooms

Requirements:

  • secondary school education, criminal record check, tuberculosis screening

Skills:

  • physical stamina
  • strong interpersonal skills
  • sensitivity and patience to create a comfortable environment for patients
  • excellent observational skills
  • ability to carefully follow direction, policy and procedure

Wages:

Employment Outlook

Employment in the health care industry is generally stable and not affected by changes in the economy.

BC’s growing population is increasing demand for health care services. The aging population is also increasing demand, because as people age, they are more likely to require health care.

Rehabilitation Assistant
Job Openings Outlook in BC
(3414)

rehabilitation assistant job openings outlook in BC NOC 3414
Source: WorkBC

Physiotherapy Technician
Job Openings Outlook in BC
(3237)

physiotherapy technician job openings outlook NOC 3237
Source: WorkBC

Athletic Therapists
Job Openings Outlook in BC
(3144)

athletic therapists job openings outlook
Source: WorkBC

Residential Care Worker / Health Care aide
Job Openings Outlook in BC
(NOC 3413)

residential care worker / health care aide job openings outlook NOC 3413
Source: WorkBC

Retraining

You may want to consider upgrading your skills to increase your employment options in this field. The following courses may improve your current skill set:

Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Open Learning: Medical English
This online course provides an opportunity to develop your understanding of medical terminology as it is used in Canadian health care. Internationally educated health care providers acquire career-specific language development.

Thirty week program, web-based instruction

Rehabilitation Assistant / Occupational & Physical Therapist Assistant / Therapist Assistant Diploma Programs

Programs covering physiotherapy and occupational therapy range from four to five semesters (up to two years); they require full time attendance and practicum placements.

Searching for Jobs

BC Government Job Postings
British Columbia public services employment opportunities

B.C. Health Authorities
(select link for each region and then go to ‘Careers’)
Regional services including publicly funded hospitals and residential care facilities

B.C. Provincial Health Services Authority Job Postings
Lists jobs available in specialty institutions such as BC Transplant, Women’s Hospital, BC Children’s Hospital

Health Match BC
Health Match BC is a free health professional recruitment service funded by the Government of British Columbia

Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia (PABC)

Providence Health Care

Indeed.ca

Privately funded residential care facilities

Volunteering in the Field

Volunteering can help you to explore new careers and learn more about the health care system in BC. You will meet new people and build a network of contacts that can lead to information on job openings and inside connections with potential employers.

The following organizations accept volunteers in hospitals, residential care facilities, adult day centres, palliative care and other community settings.

Canadian Red Cross

Fraser Health Authority

Providence Health Care

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, including these rehabilitation centres:

Volunteer BC

Community Care Facilities, BC Ministry of Health
Other volunteer opportunities may be available from individual care facilities in BC.

NOTE: volunteering for local sports events or teams can introduce you to people in the local sports market and provide you with useful contacts.

Consider these types of opportunities:

Helpful Resources

Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia (PABC)

College of Physical Therapists of British Columbia (CPTBC)

National Physiotherapist Assistant Assembly

Choose the following links for further assistance: