Pediatric Physical Therapist Career Info

A pediatric physical therapist specializes in early diagnosis of health complications and makes use of extensive methods to treat the disorders in children. These therapists are well-trained in diagnosis, treatment and management of children and adolescents who suffer from skeletal, muscular, neuromuscular, congenital, developmental or acquired disorders. The treatments a pediatric physical therapist provides aim for the following goals:

  • Improving strength and endurance
  • Improving fine and gross motor skills
  • Improving balance and coordination
  • Improving sensory integration.

Children suffering from cerebral palsy, torticollis, spina bifida and developmental delays may see a pediatric physical therapist for treatment.

Recommended Skills and Qualifications

To be involved in pediatric physical therapy, one must possess a keen interest in working with children. An enormous amount of patience and the ability to provide care in a delicate manner are two other key aspects needed in a career as a pediatric physical therapist. Furthermore, in order to become a recognized children’s physical therapist you should have completed these actions: 

  • Been involved in volunteer services that provide assistance to disabled children
  • Enrolled for a pediatric physical therapy training program
  • Acquired education through programs that offer training in various methods of physical therapy
  • Passed the licensing exam of a specific state to practice as a therapist.

Job Overview

A pediatric physical therapist may either work for hospitals or work individually in a personal therapy center. In emergencies you would need to attend to the patients at irregular hours. A pediatric physical therapist, like a doctor, must be ready to work long hours, weekends and holidays.

Although a pediatric physical therapist treats children, he or she also has the responsibility of explaining the therapies to parents. Other everyday tasks of a pediatric physical therapist would involve the following:

  • Examining the patients for the presence of any disorder
  • Prescribing tests to determine the condition of the patients
  • Suggesting the best methods of treatment through various types of therapies or medication
  • Being effectively involved in all stages of the therapy
  • Monitoring the improvement of the patient’s condition
  • Communicating with the parents to convey all the details regarding diagnosis, treatment and cure.


The starting salary for a pediatric physical therapist is around $55,000 annually. With a few years of experience, you could expect to make around $66,000 annually. Advantages of being hired as a children’s physical therapist include health insurance, paid vacations, 401(k) and sometimes relocation assistance.

Therapists who work individually are expected to make the maximum amount of money in this profession. A therapist working individually makes up to $70,000 annually, while therapists who work for non-profit organizations and schools make about $52,000.

Opportunities for Advancement

Advancement opportunities in this field are varied. Therapists could expect to be promoted to supervisory levels in the hospitals. With an extensive knowledge and vast experience, you might become head of your department. If you have an interest in business, you may start your own center.