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Working as a Physiotherapist [NOC 3142]

Job Description

Physiotherapists are health care professionals who assess and treat patients who have problems with movement due to illness, injury, or physical disabilities.

As a physiotherapist you do the following:

  • Assess patients’ physical abilities through detailed history analysis and hands-on tests
  • Design treatment programs (exercise, electrotherapy, education, etc.) based on individual needs and abilities
  • Monitor and document patients’ progress
  • Communicate with referring physician and other healthcare professionals regarding patients’ problems, needs, and progress
  • May provide consulting or education services to community or educational organizations

Sources: Work BC Career Profile for Physiotherapists [NOC 3142]Career Cruising database. (profile for Physiotherapists)

Industry Overview

There is high demand for physiotherapists in British Columbia. Currently there are more job openings than number of new graduates. Employers are looking to hire qualified physiotherapists from other countries to meet their needs.

Industry sources anticipate demand will increase due to greater health awareness and interest in preventative measures among British Columbians. Job openings will also arise from the need to replace retiring workers or to fill in for those on maternity leave.

While there are shortages throughout the province, you may find more job vacancies in Metro Vancouver, the northern regions, and some areas of Vancouver Island.

The range of techniques and services provided by physiotherapists is constantly changing due to new information, technology, and service demands. You will be expected to participate in continual learning through professional development courses throughout your career.

Job Outlook in BC

job outlook for physiotherapists
Chart from WorkBC Career Profile

The Employment Outlook for BC provides job openings projections for physiotherapists within BC regions:

Region 2010
Estimated Employment
2015
Estimated Employment
Avg Annual % Change, 5 Yrs, 2010 to 2015
Vancouver Island /Coast 490 550 2.5%
Lower Mainland /Southwest 1,780 1,970 2.2%
Thompson-Okanagan 250 270 2.4%
Kootenay 70 80 3.2%
Cariboo 70 90 4.0%
North Coast & Nechako 40 50 3.2%
Northeast 30 30 4.1%

Source: Regional Employment Projections, BC Stats. Projections for development regions. [accessed October 2014]

You can learn more about working as a physiotherapist from:

Types of Employers

Physiotherapists work in many settings including:

  • hospitals
  • private clinics
  • home care
  • child-development centres
  • extended-care facilities
  • health-planning agencies

You may work as part of a health-care team. You also perform many independent duties.

Salary

The average salary for physiotherapists working in BC is between $66,000 and $95,000 a year. Your salary depends on experience, location, level of responsibility and employer.

In addition to a salary, most full-time physiotherapists receive health and dental benefits, paid sick days, and paid vacations.

Some physiotherapists belong to unions, which means your salary rates and benefits are negotiated on your behalf by union representatives.

Across BC, physiotherapists can expect to make:

physiotherapist regional wage

Source:  Job Bank Canada, wage reports

Working Hours

Full-time professionals in the public setting (such as hospitals) generally work a 36-hour week. Evening and weekend work may be required. Most public practice settings offer casual or part-time positions only, and it may take over a year for you to obtain a full-time position.

If you work in private practice you usually work 36–50 hours per week.

Some jobs, especially in rural regions and in home care, may require you to travel.

Source: WorkBC Career Profile

Skills, Education and Experience

Skills

  • good interpersonal skills
  • a thorough understanding of anatomy and pathology
  • highly observant and skilled in critical thinking in order to make safe and effective clinical decisions
  • leadership and teamwork skills to coordinate with other health professionals
  • strong communication skills
  • enjoy helping people
  • patience
  • work well with your hands

Education and Experience

To work as a physiotherapist in British Columbia you require:

  • a Master of Physical Therapy degree as a minimum level of education
  • completion of the Physiotherapy Competency Exam, administered by the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators
  • registration with the College of Physiotherapists of BC

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is the only institution in BC that currently offers the Master of Physical Therapy degree. UBC also offers a PhD program for individuals who would like to undertake further research in rehabilitation sciences.

It is recommended that you also complete advanced training in areas of interest after graduation. There are over 30 different areas of specialization in physiotherapy career. There are courses offered by the Canadian Physiotherapy Association as well as by recognized leaders in the field.

Source: WorkBC Career Profile

Qualifications

This occupation is regulated in British Columbia.

You must be registered with the College of Physical Therapists of British Columbia (CPTBC) to practise as a physiotherapist in BC. Registration is a multi-step process.

For more information see:

Internationally Trained and Accredited Physiotherapists

If you are an internationally trained physiotherapist you must complete a multi-step process to work in BC. This includes an assessment of your education and professional credentials by the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators.

For more information see:

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, trade journals, and electronic sources, as well as through professional associations’ publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun and The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily and the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available online or in print at the Central Library
    NOTE: Access at VPL locations only

Online Job Postings

BC has five regional health authorities that provide acute care and community programs (acute care hospitals, mental health, public health, addictions, and home and community care services)

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.

When searching, look for these related job titles:

  • physical therapist
  • registered physiotherapist
  • research physiotherapist

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of potential employers. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Canadian Medical Directory
    Available at the Central Library, 610.92 C21
  • Directory of Canadian Healthcare Personnel
    Available at the Central Library, 362.11025 C21a
  • Find a Physiotherapist
    Listing of physiotherapy and related clinics across BC.
    Also available at the Central Library 615.82025 P57
  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “physiotherapist” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume or curriculum vitae and a cover letter. These should identify the position you are applying for and summarize your relevant experience.

Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, use the following guides which are available in print at the Central Library or online:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for physiotherapists in BC and Canada can provide information and assistance. Registration and fees are required for membership.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession. An Example at the Central Library:

  • Directions in Physiotherapy / Physiotherapy Association of BC
    Available at the Central Library, 615.8205 D59