Therapist Careers in Healthcare

You don't have to be a doctor to improve the health and well-being of patients

"Therapist" is a term that is used a lot in the healthcare space because therapy entails any type of treatment that is repeated or that recurs regularly for a period of time. Therapists work to cure or help a patient cope with a physical or mental ailment, so it's easy to see why so many practitioners bear that title. If becoming a therapist is attractive to you, but you're unsure of what avenue to take, learning more about the wide variety of therapy careers can help. Most require graduate-level degrees from an accredited program at a university.

Physical Therapist

Phyical therapist working with patient at clinic
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Physical therapy, as its name implies, provides relief or a cure for a patient's physical ailment. The patient may be recovering from a surgery or may have been involved in an accident or trauma. Physical therapy can also be used for patients with degenerative diseases or other conditions that weaken their physical condition.

A healthcare professional who provides physical therapy is called a physical therapist. Becoming a physical therapist requires a graduate degree in an accredited program. However, if you're interested in physical therapy careers but can't obtain a master's level degree, you could also explore related options as a physical therapist assistant or physical therapist aide.

Occupational Therapist

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Occupational therapy helps people perform basic life tasks necessary for independent living. Clients of occupational therapists include people recovering from strokes or traumatic brain injuries, as well as people who may have other mental conditions that otherwise limit their abilities to function fully. Becoming an occupational therapist requires a master's degree and licensing. 

Speech Therapist

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Speech therapists, also known as speech language pathologists (SLPs), are trained to help children and adults in need of speech improvement, whether it's caused by a physical or mental condition.

Speech therapists often work in schools to help kids who may be developmentally delayed or who have lisps or other speech impediments. They may also work with adults who need help re-learning speech after a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or other condition affecting their speech. 

Employment for speech therapists, who must have a master's degree, is expected to grow 18 percent between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is much faster than average for all occupations. 

Respiratory Therapist

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Respiratory therapy is one of the therapy careers that does not require a graduate degree. While some respiratory therapists have only an associate's degree, job outlook is better for those who have at least a bachelor's degree (a four-year college degree).

Most respiratory therapists work in hospitals, as most of their patients are fairly ill and have difficulty breathing. Respiratory therapists use apparatuses, machines, or physiotherapy to help alleviate these breathing difficulties.

Radiation Therapist

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Radiation therapists work primarily with cancer patients, administering the radiation prescribed by oncologists to help shrink or eliminate the cancerous tumor.

Radiation therapy is another therapy career that requires only an associate's degree or bachelor's degree. The pay range is in the mid- to high-$60,000s and the job outlook is strong, with more than 25 percent growth projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Massage Therapist

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Massage therapy entails the use of touch to treat stress, muscle aches, and a variety of other problems.

Massage therapy does not require an advanced degree, and this career is unique in that many massage therapists are self-employed and contract their work out by appointment, which requires good business skills.

Dance Movement Therapist

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Dance therapy is yet another form of therapy used to treat a variety of physical and emotional conditions. This specialty requires a master's degree and is an excellent career for people who love the art of dance and the science of medicine.

Music Therapist

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Music therapy employs the power of music to influence both physical and mental health. It's often used to help people who have disabilities or an illness, but the healing benefits of music can be enjoyed by anyone and at any age.

Music therapists, who must complete an approved music therapy program, work in a number of different settings, from schools and hospitals to nursing homes and private practices.

Psychotherapists and Behavioral Therapists

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Psychotherapy is a type of therapy often employed by mental health professionals to help treat a variety of mental conditions, including depression and anxiety. 

Depending on the person's academic degree, a psychotherapist can be a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker, and work with individuals, couples, groups, or families.

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