Job Description:

Physiotherapists work with patients to improve their range of movement and promote health and wellbeing.

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

Examples of day-to-day tasks may include:

  • helping patients with spine and joint problems
  • helping patients recovering from accidents, sports injuries and strokes
  • working with children who have mental or physical disabilities
  • helping older people with physical problems become more mobile

You’ll work in areas and departments like paediatrics, outpatients, intensive care, women’s health and occupational health.

In your work you’ll use treatments and techniques like:

  • physical manipulation and massage
  • therapeutic exercise
  • electrotherapy
  • ultrasound
  • acupuncture
  • hydrotherapy

You’ll keep accurate records of patients’ treatment and progress. Working closely with other health professionals like nurses, occupational therapists, health visitors and social workers will also be an important part of your role.


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of medicine and how the body works
  • knowledge of psychology
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • excellent communication skills
  • good manual skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to be firm yet encouraging
  • organisational and administrative skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • customer service skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptable)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a physiotherapist in the UK, you’ll need to meet certain educational requirements, and while GCSE subjects aren’t the primary qualifications needed, they play a role in preparing you for the necessary A-levels and university courses. Here are the typical GCSE subjects that can be beneficial for aspiring physiotherapists:

  1. English Language: Good communication skills are essential for a physiotherapist. You’ll need to effectively communicate with patients, document their progress, and work as part of a healthcare team.
  2. Mathematics: Basic mathematical skills are helpful for data analysis and understanding measurements related to patient care.
  3. Biology: A strong foundation in biology is crucial because physiotherapy involves understanding the human body’s anatomy, physiology, and biological processes.
  4. Physical Education (PE): Some knowledge of physical fitness and basic anatomy can be beneficial for understanding physical therapy and rehabilitation techniques.
  5. Chemistry: While not always a strict requirement, an understanding of chemistry can be helpful for understanding the chemical processes related to medications and certain treatment methods.
  6. Psychology: An understanding of psychology can be useful for dealing with patients’ mental and emotional well-being, which is often an aspect of physiotherapy.

It’s important to note that while these GCSE subjects can be advantageous, the specific GCSE requirements may vary between physiotherapy programs and universities. Therefore, you should research the entry requirements of the physiotherapy courses you’re interested in to ensure you meet their criteria.

Post School

You are most likely to need a physiotherapy degree or postgraduate award (in the UK that will need to be approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) ).

Relevant paid or voluntary experience may help you to get on a course. You could also gain experience through an apprenticeship.

If you’re a physiotherapy assistant, you may be able to take a part-time degree in physiotherapy while you’re working.You’ll also need an enhanced background check.

If you’ve already got a relevant degree in biological science, psychology or sports science, you may be able to take an approved fast-track postgraduate course.

Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll usually work 37.5 hours a week.

It’s important to have a good level of personal fitness as the work can be physically tiring.

You likely be based in a hospital, health centre, nursing home, GP surgery or fitness centre. You may also visit patients in their own homes.

Career Path & Progression:

Once you’re fully trained as a physiotherapist, you can choose to specialise in one area, such as:

  • sports injuries
  • critical care
  • rehabilitation and pain management
  • paediatrics (treatment of infants, children and young people)
  • neurology (treating multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke patients)

If you live in the UK, you may find it useful to become a member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP).

With experience you could become self-employed and set up your own practice. In the UK’s NHS, you could progress to senior physiotherapist or move into health service management. You could also move into research or teaching.