Geriatric Physical Therapist

* Last Updated on September 22, 2021

Geriatric Physical Therapist was deemed a specialization in medicine in the year 1989. It emphasizes treatment and care for aging adults. The Physical Therapist who specializes in this particular field helps aging people achieve and maintain excellent health and well-being. Some areas of focus in these fields include, but not limited to, bone healthcare, mobility function, joint pain, and other conditions accompanied by aging, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and more.

Job Description

Physical Therapists, PT, helps ill people or injured ones with mobility issues and pain management. PTs are vital in treatment care, rehabilitation, and prevention of illnesses, injuries, and other forms of chronic conditions, especially in older people. The PTs review the patient’s referral and medical history before proceeding to diagnose them for the various conditions. They will either listen to the patient’s concerns or observe their walk or stand.

After diagnosis, the PT develops a customized treatment plan to reach the patient’s expected outcome and goals. The treatment plan may involve a custom exercise plan such as stretching, pain relief equipment, hands-on therapy, or more. During the process, the Geriatric PT evaluates the patient’s progress and modifies it, when necessary.

The PTs provide treatment care to patients, regardless of age, who might have neck or back injuries that might result from strains, arthritis, sprains, and neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, stroke, and more. The Geriatric PT has a diverse knowledge of multiple treatment techniques and works with other personnel in a clinical setting. They oversee the PT assistants and aid surgeons and physicians. So, are you interested in becoming a Geriatric Physical Therapist? Here’s how.

How to Become a Geriatric Physical Therapist

Education, skills requirements

A Geriatric Physical Therapist ought to have a doctorate or master’s degree. Different states request a PT to meet various criteria in terms of academic achievement. After getting a bachelor’s degree, pursuing a doctorate or master’s program can go to about 2-4 years. If you would like to become a GPT, you need to study anatomy, human development and growth, psychology, and therapeutic techniques.

Moreover, it is a requirement that one has a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT). The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) accredited over 200 programs to offer the DPT degree. PT students should do clinical work for about 30 weeks, as they gain experience in orthopedic and acute care. After graduation, a residency of about1 year, and fellowship is necessary for the PT to specialize in a particular field.

As a Geriatric Physical Therapist, you need to have a diverse set of skills. He/she must know how to interact with patients, maintain physical fitness and care, and be flexible enough to reach out and monitor their patients’ progress easily. Besides, they should be detailed to effectively perform diagnostic tests, and find customized treatment plans for every individual. Other significant skill requirements include group therapy sessions, mental health services, accurate documentation, and substance abuse.

Certification and Licensing

It is a requirement by most states for a PT to be licensed. The licensing requirements may vary among different states but must include a pass in the National Physical Therapy Examination. Other requirements include criminal background checks and law exams. Note that a PT is required to continue studying to maintain a license. After attaining some work experience, a PT can now proceed to acquire certification from the American Board of Physical Therapy to become a board-certified Geriatric PT. Some additional requirements of board certification include a pass in an examination, two thousand hours of clinical work, or completing a residency program.

Career Outlook, Salary

Job opportunities for Geriatric PTs are likely to grow gradually over the next decades than other occupations. A vast number of baby boomers want to stay active than other generations before. This aging population is prone to strokes, cardiovascular complications, and mobility issues that necessitate therapeutic care. Moreover, chronic illnesses, such as obesity and diabetes, have grown tremendously recently. Due to this, the demand for PTs has been on the rise.

With advancements in technology and medical techniques, outpatient surgery treatment is prevalent. These improvements in healthcare improve the life expectancy for infants with defects, and trauma victims, which creates additional demand for this practice. Even after treatment, the PTs will monitor the patient’s recovery process. The annual median salary for a physical therapist today is about $87,000.

Work Conditions

Typically, a Geriatric PT ought to schedule their week activities/appointments. The physical therapist is exposed to diseases daily and work with other co-workers. Since they interact more with patients and co-workers, they have to ensure that they are safe for themselves and their patients. A PT is not limited to working in a clinical setting and can reach out to patients to offer outpatient care. The Physical Therapist repeats the same activities repeatedly and is sometimes compelled to make decisions for their patients. Also, PTs must meet specific deadlines.

Career Pros & Cons


  1. Fulfilling, Plus Nice Pay

Most students will pursue PT due to the passion of helping others through their therapeutic care. Besides this career being fulfilling, it offers excellent pay that can maintain and raise a family. Also, you can take up part-time jobs to boost your earnings.

  1. Increasing Demand

Today, technology is replacing human labor leading to high unemployment rates. In the contrary, there is an increasing demand for PTs due to an increase in the aging population. By becoming a PT, you guarantee yourself a lifetime job.

  1. Variety of Working Conditions

A geriatric PT can operate anywhere- be it a rehabilitation center, clinic, school, nursing homes, etc. This profession does not limit you to a specific working condition, making it convenient for you. Furthermore, one can start his/her practice.

  1. Gain Knowledge in Health and Science

PT is highly educated. They have an understanding of the body’s anatomy and general health and wellness. Not only does this knowledge help patients but the PTs as well in maintaining general good health.


  1. Long Study Time

If you decide to take this path, you must be ready to spend substantial time in school. The longer you stay in school, the more costly it becomes. You can end up accruing colossal student loans.

  1. It is quite demanding

The PT job is quite demanding and will require you to juggle well between work and life. Handling various patients is physically and emotionally draining, plus you have to maintain general body fitness.

  1. License Renewal

Apart from obtaining a license in every state you want to offer your practice, you have to renew it every two years. Also, it is a requirement that you attend regular training programs.

Career Advice

Becoming a Geriatric PT is a satisfying job. So long as you can balance work with life, you will enjoy serving as a PT. Also, this profession won’t limit you to a specified location; you can move around and still meet your obligations. Despite helping patients, you can use the knowledge gained to maintain overall health and wellness.

Furthermore, you can make some good money that can sustain you and your family. If you are a PT looking forward to specializing in a particular field, consider becoming a geriatric physical therapist.