Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Physical Therapist

* Last Updated on September 22, 2021

Cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapists, commonly referred to as PTs, are devoted to helping patients improve their cardiovascular and respiratory health. They help patients regain function in their respiratory and cardiac systems following a debilitating illness or injury. PTs are usually a significant part of the rehabilitation, prevention, and treatment of patients with chronic illness, condition, or injury.

Here are the duties of cardiopulmonary PTs:

  • Review the medical history of patients as well as any referrals from surgeons, doctors or any other healthcare practitioner
  • Diagnose the functions and movements of patients by listening to their concerns and observing them walk or stand among other techniques
  • Develop specific plans for patients care, outlining the expected outcomes as well as the patient’s goals
  • Develop treatment programs tailor-made to specific patients
  • Guide patients through all their treatment regimen
  • Use hands-on therapy, stretching maneuvers, equipment and a variety of exercises to help reduce the patients’ pain and help them improve their mobility, avert further injury or pain and facilitate wellness
  • Educate patients as well as their family and friends about what to expect from the treatment regimen, how to provide care and how to cope with the challenges of caring for the patients
  • Evaluate and record the progress of the patients and modify the plan of treatment and care
  • Maintaining the records of the patients and keeping track of the progress

How to Become Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Physical Therapist

The journey to becoming a cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapist requires that a person undergoes thorough education and several hands-on therapies and clinical experiences to develop both the skills and knowledge to treat and care for all types of patients. PTs’ education is designed to provide arm you with a robust foundation to work in any healthcare setting after graduation.


Cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapists need a degree in Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). Also, PTs are required to be licensed to operate. The DPT degree programs often take three years to complete. Most of the DPT programs require relevant bachelor’s degrees and specific academic prerequisites, including classes in anatomy for admission. In some programs, first-year college students are admitted into a six or seven-year program that allows them to graduate with both DPT and bachelor’s degrees. In most DPT programs, applicants are required to apply through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS).

Cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapist programs usually include courses in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, biomechanics, and neuroscience. Also, PTs students undergo clinical work training where they gain experience in areas such as orthopedic care and acute care.

Skills Requirements

  • Interpersonal skills-given PTs spend a huge part of their time interacting with different patients; they need to enjoy helping and interacting with them. Interpersonal skills in healthcare refer to the ability to work well with patients and team members, and it rangers from good listening and communication skills to a good attitude. PTs must be able to motivate patients, explaining to them the treatment regimen clearly, and listen to their concerns.
  • Physical stamina-PTs spend a lot of their time helping patients conduct several exercises while examining or treating them. This means that PTs are on their feet a lot and should, therefore, be physically fit
  • Physical dexterity-PTs must employ both hands to provide therapeutic exercises and manual therapy. As such, they require fine motor skills, physical mobility, and physical agility.
  • Detail oriented-just like any other healthcare practitioner, PTs must be an individual who pays attention to details, evaluates the situation, and makes a conscious effort to comprehend the causes rather than just the effects.
  • Compassion- PTs’ job entails working with people who are often in pain and must, therefore, be sympathetic and have empathy for the misfortunes and suffering of the patient.
  • Resourcefulness- PTs tailor-make treatment regimens for their patients. As such, they must be flexible enough to adapt treatment plans to meet the needs of their patients.


Becoming certified PTs is essential as it allows you to enjoy a greater sense of self-confidence, personal achievement, and it also open doors to new opportunities, service, and leadership. American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties certification requires PTs to complete about 2,000 hours of clinical experience in their area of specialty and perform well in a written exam to become certified.

Career Outlook & Salary

The cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapist career outlook is alluring. PTs’ employment is projected to increase by about 22% through 2028. This rate is relatively much faster than the average of all other careers. The demand for therapy is projected to come from adults aged between 52 to 70, who are susceptible to a number of health conditions, including heart illness that may require therapy.

The median yearly wage of a PTS as of May 2019 was $89,440. Moreover, the salaries for PTs range from about $59,080 to $122,650.

Work Conditions

Cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapist work in all kinds of physical therapy settings such as outpatient clinics, hospitals, and even home health settings

Career Pros & Cons

One of the advantages of being a PTs is that even though the driving force of this career is empathy, compassion, and willingness to care and provide your best to those in need, the salary is great. With the median around $89,440, you can enjoy the comfort of what life offers, and you will be motivated enough to give your all to the patients. A disadvantage is that the cost of education for PTs is huge. Further, if you choose to specialize, additional education will require more cost.

Second, PTs have a wide variety of options when it comes to working environments: variability is a spice for life. This advantage is especially essential for those who love to travel: today, some people specialize as traveling PTs, a position that is in high demand. The disadvantage is that to be traveling PTs; you would be required to have a license in every state you wish to work in and similarly renew the license after every two years.

Third, the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed PTS as a high-demand job. The disadvantage is that this job may take a huge part of your life.

Conclusion, Career Advice

It is no secret that cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapist work is a brilliant career that has a lot of pros, including great pay, variety of environments, in-demand career field, and you get a chance to help a lot of people. However, to become PTs, one has to invest a lot of time and effort as it is not a work in the park. As such, you should have a positive attitude and never stop learning. The truth is, there are a lot of flaws in multiple physiotherapy models, and continuous learning may give you an upper hand. Do not limit yourself to a single thought process and model, or you will spend most of your time attempting to defend yourself rather than grow.