About the job

Nature of work:

Physiotherapists assess patients and plan and carry out individually designed treatment programs to maintain, improve or restore physical functioning and mobility, alleviate pain and prevent physical dysfunction in patients. Physiotherapists are employed in hospitals, clinics, industry, sports organizations, rehabilitation centres and extended care facilities, or they may work in private practice.

Job duties:
Physiotherapists perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Assess patients' physical abilities through evaluative procedures such as functional ability tests.
  • Establish treatment goals with patients based on physical diagnoses.
  • Plan and implement programs of physiotherapy including therapeutic exercise, manipulations, massage, education, the use of electro-therapeutic and other mechanical equipment and hydro-therapy.
  • Evaluate effectiveness of treatment plans and modify accordingly.
  • Communicate with referring physician and other healthcare professionals regarding patients' problems, needs and progress.
  • Maintain clinical and statistical records and confer with other health care professionals.
  • Develop and implement health promotion programs for patients, staff and the community.
  • May conduct research in physiotherapy.
  • May provide consulting or education services.

Physiotherapists may focus their practice in particular clinical areas such as neurology, oncology, rheumatology, orthopedics, obstetrics, pediatrics, and geriatrics, in the treatment of patients with cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary disorders, burns or sports injuries or in the field of ergonomics.

Sample job titles:
  • clinical physical therapist
  • consultant physiotherapist
  • physical rehabilitation therapist
  • physical therapist
  • physical therapy clinical specialist
  • physical therapy supervisor
  • physiotherapist
  • physiotherapy clinical co-ordinator
  • physiotherapy supervisor
  • registered physiotherapist

To work in this field, you should have an interest in health and in caring for the special needs of people. Ingenuity, initiative, and imagination are needed to adapt activities to individual needs. You should be patient, self-disciplined, and resourceful. The ability to inspire confidence and to motivate clients is important. A strong sense of responsibility, good judgement, and communication skills are also necessary. Physical stamina may be necessary.

Job requirements:
  • A university degree in physiotherapy and a period of supervised practical training are required.
  • A licence or registration with a regulatory body is required to practice physiotherapy in Nova Scotia.
  • Completion of the Physiotherapy National Exam, administered by the Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulatory Boards, may be required.
Other considerations:

A growing number of people in this group are self-employed. Progression to management positions, such as director of physiotherapy, is possible through experience and additional training.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Good

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “good”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is better than average when compared to other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is a moderate sized occupation in Nova Scotia so some job opportunities may occur through turnover. The number employed in this occupation is expected to grow significantly over the next few years, which will provide additional opportunities for employment. With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Physiotherapists most commonly work full-time hours.

The median employment income for 59% of Physiotherapists who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $72,361. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Physiotherapists615Strong growth90Low
Minimum: $15.40
Median: $37.00
Maximum: $48.08
Minimum: $15,942
Median: $63,535
Maximum: $81,361
Occupations in Health36,515Strong growth4,385Low
Minimum: $16.38
Median: $25.50
Maximum: $41.00
Minimum: $10,740
Median: $43,853
Maximum: $88,944
PhysiotherapistsCompared to: Occupations in Health
Percent employed full-time79%77%
Percent self-employed2%10%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentPhysiotherapistsCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton11%x13%$32,974
Annapolis Valley7%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgePhysiotherapistsCompared to: All Health
% Employed% Employed
Median Age4244
GenderPhysiotherapistsCompared to: Occupations in Health
% Employed% Employed
EducationPhysiotherapistsCompared to: All Health
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high schoolN/Ax1.1%$27,581
High schoolN/Ax6.9%$24,119
Trades certificateN/Ax5.0%$31,728
College certificate or diploma3.3%x39.4%$36,693
University certificate or diploma4.1%x4.8%$50,769
Bachelor's degree48.8%x27.6%$57,186
University advanced certificate or diploma9.8%x2.3%$61,833
Master's degreeN/A$74,5045.1%$87,808
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometryN/Ax7.2%$83,000
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

Right to Title and Practice:This job is regulated and the job title is protected in Nova Scotia (you may not use this job title without holding a provincial licence). A licence shows that the holder has met provincial requirements and is required to work in this job.
Regulating body:
Nova Scotia College of Physiotherapists
PO Box 309, Station Main
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 3Y5
(866) 225-1060
(902) 245-3134
Useful contacts:
Nova Scotia Physiotherapy Association
PO Box 33013, Quinpool Centre
Halifax, NS B3L 4T6
Tel: (902) 406-2619
Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators
1243 Islington Avenue, Suite 501
Toronto, ON M8X 1Y9
Tel: (416) 234-8800
Fax: (416) 234-8820
Health Care Human Resource Sector Council
380 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2L4
Tel: (902) 461-0871
Fax: (902) 461-9572
Canadian Physiotherapy Association
955 Green Valley Crescent, Suite 270
Ottawa, ON K2C 3V4
Tel: (800) 387-8679
Fax: (613) 564-1577

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Physical therapy/therapist
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to alleviate physical and functional impairments and limitations caused by injury or disease through the design and implementation of therapeutic interventions to promote fitness and health. These programs include courses in functional anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, neuroscience, pathological physiology, analysis of dysfunction, movement dynamics, physical growth process, management of musculoskeletal disorders, clinical evaluation and measurement, client assessment and supervision, care plan development and documentation, physical therapy modalities, rehabilitation psychology, physical therapy administration, and professional standards and ethics.
See all institutions providing this program+
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
Program Name:Rehabilitation science
Education Level:This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on human function, disability, and rehabilitation from the perspectives of the health sciences, social sciences, psychology, engineering, and related fields. These programs include courses in psychological, social, and cultural aspects of disability and rehabilitation; sensory and motor function and dysfunction; biomechanics and kinesiology; assistive technology; rehabilitation instrumentation and methodology; statistics; and health and rehabilitation policy.
See all institutions providing this program+
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
Additional resources:

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