Physiotherapists help people to manage and overcome physical difficulties caused by an injury, illness or disability.
They are responsible for meeting with patients, assessing their needs and putting together a treatment plan — using therapy, exercise and education to improve movement.
This detailed guide features everything you need to know about physiotherapists, including a full job description for the role as well as the qualifications required, average salary, typical employers and more.
- Physiotherapist job description
- How much do physiotherapists earn?
- What does a physiotherapist do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs physiotherapists?
- Which junior jobs progress to physiotherapist roles?
Physiotherapist job description
Physiotherapist | North West Community Healthcare Centre
North West Community Healthcare Centre (NWCHC) is the primary provider of community healthcare across the North West of England, working to rehabilitate adults with a range of physical difficulties resulting from injury, disease and chronic illness.
About the role
We are looking for a registered physiotherapist (Band 5 or equivalent) to join our multidisciplinary team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists and assistants. Reporting to the clinical physiotherapy lead, the successful candidate will be passionate about delivering high-quality, hands-on care to improve the lives of injured, disabled and chronically ill adults in the community.
- Working closely with service users to develop tailored treatment plans including exercise and physical activity advice, and reviewing these at regular intervals
- Providing mobility aids and delivering a range of manual therapies in-house including massage, ultrasound and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Offering support and guidance to family members and carers and relaying treatment information while adhering to service user confidentiality
- Supervising and training junior team members including physiotherapy assistants and physiotherapy support workers
- Liaising with local GP practises, social workers, mental health services and community healthcare clinics in the North West area
- Gathering statistics and relaying quarterly reports to senior management
- Working with wider team to develop clinic policies and procedures and review treatment efficacy at regular intervals
- Attending regular training and development programmes
Location & commitments
- Permanent, full-time position based at our clinic in Salford, Manchester
- 5 hours per week, Monday-Friday
- Travel to patients’ homes within the North West may occasionally be required
- Fully HCPC registered physiotherapist (Band 5 or equivalent)
- Excellent communication skills
- Highly compassionate, empathetic and patient disposition
- Passionate about improving the quality of life of service users
- Strong time-management and organisational skills
- Up-to-date DBS check
- A full, clean driving license
- Experience working in a clinical setting
Contact us to apply
If you’d like to join our team and positively impact the lives of service users in the community, please contact our recruitment department at firstname.lastname@example.org and attach your CV and a short cover letter.
How much do physiotherapists earn?
A physiotherapist in the UK can expect to earn an average of £29,502. However, salaries can vary significantly depending on experience, specialisation and location.
Physiotherapist salaries in the UK
- Low: £20,000
- Average: £29,502
- High: £38,000
Source: CV Library
The following factors can highly influence the salary of a physiotherapist:
- The sector – Physiotherapists in the private sector can expect to earn considerably more than those working in the public sector
- The industry – Physiotherapists working for a high-profile football club will usually earn more than physiotherapists working in a clinical setting
- The pay band – Within the public sector, physiotherapist salaries are graded by pay band in line with the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) scheme, and can range from Band 5 (£24,214 – £30,112) for newly qualified physiotherapists to Band 8c (£60,000 and above) for senior managerial roles such as physiotherapist consultant
- Experience – Although not graded by the band system, more experienced physiotherapists in the private sector can expect to earn more
- Specialism – Physiotherapists specialising in one area will receive a higher salary than those who practise generally
- Location – Typical location factors also apply with public sector positions offering London-weighted salaries
For example, a public sector Band 5 physiotherapist working in London will earn more than a lower band physiotherapist working in Manchester, but a private sector physiotherapist in either location will likely earn more than both.
These figures are an average based on job advertisements. They don’t take into consideration other benefits such as holiday allowance, employee discounts and pension schemes.
What does a physiotherapist do?
A physiotherapist job description will typically list the following responsibilities:
- Assessing patients – Assessing patient condition and providing an initial diagnosis
- Developing treatment plans – Creating treatment plans detailing exercise, therapy and practical advice that patients must follow and reviewing these when necessary
- Delivering treatment – Providing treatment during appointments such as massage, electrotherapy and acupuncture
- Reconvening with patients – Following up with patients over a variety of weeks, building rapport and maintaining relationships, understanding each patient’s individual needs and adapting treatment accordingly
- Supporting families – Keeping parents, carers and other family members up to date about treatment plans and providing advice and support
- Liaising with other healthcare professionals – Communicating with healthcare professionals in other departments or services about patient care, including GPs, nurses and occupational therapists
- Supervising junior staff – Supervising and training junior team members including physiotherapy assistants and support workers
- Attending training sessions – Attending regular training programmes and keeping up to date with new technologies, therapies and treatments that become available
- Collecting statistics – Gathering patient statistics, generating reports and relaying these to senior management
What do physiotherapists need?
Qualifications are essential for anyone wishing to work as a physiotherapist in the UK, and it is equally important to have a strong set of relevant skills and experience.
Below is a breakdown of what’s generally needed to become a physiotherapist:
Junior physiotherapist jobs do not usually require previous experience and are typically open to graduates. However, previous voluntary or paid work in a healthcare setting will give candidates an advantage.
Senior physiotherapist jobs will ask for several years of experience and in the NHS, may specify that this has been undertaken at Band 5 or above. For some senior roles, physiotherapists may need a specialism, such as working with children or the elderly, or possessing expert knowledge about specific conditions.
As physiotherapy is a career where a high standard of patient care is imperative, personal skills and attributes are of great importance. Employers are likely to hire candidates who display these qualities:
- Communication: Communicating with patients, family members and staff from a variety of different backgrounds and age groups
- Compassion and empathy: A caring, compassionate nature displaying empathy and patience at all times
- Rapport-building: Growing and maintaining relationships with patients over weeks, months or years
- Time-management: Managing time effectively, keeping to schedules and juggling multiple tasks at once by order of importance
- Adaptability: Adapting around each patient’s individual needs, including flexibility with schedule and willingness to travel and visit patients in their own homes
- Decision-making: Using acquired knowledge and experience to analyse situations and make decisions about patient care and diagnostics
- Confidentiality: Discretion and confidentiality when treating patients
These harder, more physiotherapist-specific skills are also a huge bonus:
- Medical knowledge: Extensive knowledge of a range of injuries, illnesses and conditions and overall knowledge of the human body
- Treatments: Skilled in acupuncture, massage, electrotherapy and other therapies requiring physical dexterity
To work as a physiotherapist in the UK, candidates must hold a degree and commit to regular training across their entire career.
Let’s have a closer look at the exact qualifications needed to be a physiotherapist:
All physiotherapists must have completed a physiotherapy degree at undergraduate level, or at postgraduate level through an accelerated two-year course.
Most undergraduate courses will ask for a minimum of 5 passes at GCSE, including maths, English language and at least one science, as well as 3 strong A Levels, including a biological science or P.E.
Equivalent qualifications such as BTEC, HND and HNC in biological sciences are also accepted, and apprenticeships are available for those seeking a more practical route.
Postgraduate courses will generally ask for a 2.1 at undergraduate level in a biological science, psychology, sports science or a related subject.
All courses in the UK have to be approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) also accredits courses and allows graduates to register as a chartered physiotherapist by applying for CSP membership.
Before being able to practise, physiotherapists must register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The HCPC regulate health and care professions in the UK by ensuring that only those who meet their high standards of training are legally permitted to practise.
Physiotherapists must pass a DBS check, which is background check to ensure that staff have no criminal convictions that would make them unsuitable for working with vulnerable people.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Continuing Professional Development is the process by which physiotherapists continue to learn and develop throughout their careers. It ensures that practising professionals are up to date with the latest technologies and therapies and can work safely and effectively.
A wide range of courses and activities are available, allowing physiotherapists to tailor their learning to their career goals and interests. Some organisations such as the CSP provide online CPD guides, as well as portfolio templates for physiotherapists to log their progress.
Jobs that require community outreach will often ask for a full, clean driving license so that staff can reach patients quickly and easily at their homes.
What is expected of physiotherapists?
Physiotherapists are generally expected to commit to the following:
- Full time hours – Typically 37.5 hours a week, days and times will vary depending on the setting
- Evening and weekend work – Evening and weekend work may be required, especially for private physiotherapists working in sports clinics or visiting patients in their own homes
- Location – Location of work can vary depending on the industry and can include private clinics, community centres and hospitals
- Home visits – Some physiotherapists may need to travel to visit patients in their own homes
Physiotherapists working for the NHS will receive generous benefits that include:
- A structured career plan and opportunities for progression
- Pension scheme – The NHS pension scheme is considered one of the best in the UK
- Generous holiday allowance
- NHS employee discounts – Including popular restaurant and retail chains
Benefits for private physiotherapists will vary depending on industry and employer, but will usually include a pension scheme and holiday allowance. Private physiotherapists may also benefit from higher pay and more flexibility with regards to working hours.
Who employs physiotherapists?
Due to an ageing population and an increase in the number of people living with long-term physical conditions, physiotherapists are currently in high demand in the UK.
The NHS is the primary employer of physiotherapists, but work is also available in the private sector — from private clinics to sports clubs and charities.
Physiotherapists tend to work in the following settings:
- GP surgeries
- Care homes
- Sports clubs
- Community centres
- Mental health services
- Industrial organisations
Which junior jobs progress to physiotherapist roles?
Most junior physiotherapists enter their first role straight after graduating, so previous experience isn’t necessary. However, working in a physiotherapy setting can give candidates an advantage and better prepare them for the job. Possible positions include:
Physiotherapy assistants support physiotherapists by helping them take care of patients. Tasks may include setting up equipment, showing patients how to use mobility aids and helping prepare them for treatment (including dressing and undressing). They play a crucial role by taking small tasks away from busy physiotherapists, and can build a lot of important qualities such as communication, patience and confidentiality by gaining experience working with patients.
Senior physiotherapy assistant
Senior physiotherapy assistants also work to support physiotherapists. They may perform similar duties to physiotherapy assistants, such as assisting patients and assembling equipment, though often without direct supervision. This role allows candidates to develop their decision-making skills, preparing them for a role with a greater amount of responsibility.
Which senior jobs do physiotherapists progress to?
There are an abundance of senior roles for physiotherapists to progress into, and career paths will vary depending on specialism and location. Some of the more recognisable positions accessible to physiotherapists include:
Specialist physiotherapists have a more extended scope of practice than general physiotherapists. They may be an expert in a particular type of physiotherapy, such as electrotherapy or acupuncture, or have extensive experience working with patients with certain illnesses, such as stroke survivors or children with disabilities. Specialist physiotherapists are usually also able to refer patients for X-rays, blood tests and other investigations.
Physiotherapy team leader
Physiotherapy team leaders provide managerial support in addition to their regular duties. Their role may involve training and supervising junior members of staff, working with the clinical lead on research and overseeing team operations, as well as treating patients.
A physiotherapist consultant is the most senior professional in a team of physiotherapists and is sometimes called the clinical lead. They will typically have extensive experience in physiotherapy of around five or more years, as well as plenty of managerial experience. While still managing their own caseload of patients, they must also lead physiotherapy research and provide expert advice both internally and externally.
Physiotherapist job description – conclusion
Increasingly in demand across various sectors in the UK, physiotherapists play a crucial part in positively transforming the lives of people living with illness, injury and disability.
While working as a physiotherapist can be extremely challenging and requires a substantial amount of work and study, the job can be incredibly rewarding. An excellent salary, benefits package and opportunities for development await those who decide to embark on this exciting career path.