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Health & Medical Sciences

How to become a physiotherapist

Physiotherapy is a rewarding career where you can make a real difference in people’s lives. Our helpful guide provides details on how to become a physiotherapist so that you can succeed in this career.


Physiotherapy is a rewarding career that involves assisting and treating clients affected by illness, injuries and disabilities. There is also a preventative component to physiotherapy.

Physiotherapists assess, prevent and treat disorders in movement by incorporating a holistic approach to collaborating with and involving clients directly in their own treatment.

A physiotherapist improves a client’s quality of life by restoring functional movement while improving their overall health and wellness. Physiotherapy can also help to minimise the risk of injury or illness in the future.

A career in physiotherapy allows you to connect with other passionate and committed health professionals who want to provide high-quality care to their clients.

Physiotherapy is a service in high demand in Australia. This demand is expected to increase due to factors like the growing ageing population. Making up 4.6 per cent of the regulated professions in Australia, it is one of the fastest-growing and the fourth largest specialisation in the country.

There are 43,000 physiotherapists employed in Australia, with future industry growth projected at 28.7 per cent. If you’re considering a career in physiotherapy, the prospects are promising.

To become a registered physiotherapist in Australia, you need to complete an accredited university degree and then register with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia before you are allowed to practise.

What is a physiotherapist?

Physiotherapists are highly trained professionals who work with people experiencing concerns associated with their body’s movement and structure.

They assess clients of all ages to pinpoint underlying issues and diagnose various physical conditions. They also have a focus on preventative health.

Physiotherapists can work as primary healthcare providers and as part of a team, creating treatment management plans for various conditions.

What does a physiotherapist do?

Physiotherapists work with clients of all ages and treat people with various physical, intellectual, and psychosocial conditions and disabilities.

For instance, there are different types of physiotherapy treatment, such as geriatric, paediatric, sports, and neurological physiotherapy. In addition, physiotherapists provide therapy for people with disabilities like cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and autism.

Some conditions that physiotherapists manage and treat are:

  • back and knee pain
  • sports injuries
  • arthritis
  • aches, sprains and injuries
  • incontinence
  • neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis
  • chronic diseases and conditions like diabetes, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and obesity
  • strokes
  • fractured and broken bones
  • rehabilitation after surgery
  • developmental delays in children
  • occupational health

Therapy and treatment may include:

  • manual therapy
  • cupping or acupuncture
  • strapping and braces
  • exercises
  • custom orthotics

How much does a physiotherapist earn in Australia?

According to Indeed, the average base salary for a physiotherapist in Australia is $86,000 annually. Entry-level positions start at $80,000 per year, while more experienced professionals can make up to $115,000 per year.

Below is the average salary for physiotherapists in each Australian state and territory:

  • Western Australia - $92,000
  • New South Wales - $86,000
  • Northern Territory - $95,000
  • Victoria - $84,000
  • Queensland - $85,000
  • Australian Capital Territory - $85,000
  • South Australia - $83,000

6 steps to becoming a physiotherapist in Australia

  1. Consider if this is the right career path for you

    Physiotherapy is a fulfilling and rewarding career for people who are passionate about helping others improve their quality of life. This field suits those with a patient and compassionate disposition.

    Ask yourself if you have the right skills, such as the ability to collaborate with a team of health professionals.

    If you value flexibility, this occupation provides varied work experience.

    Physiotherapists work in education, clinics, private practice and hospitals. Also, if you want confidence in knowing that this career is for you, consider the employment prospects, salary potential and education requirements.

  2. Complete a bachelor's degree

    An accredited Bachelor of Physiotherapy degree typically takes four years to complete and prepares students to qualify as physiotherapists. You will learn how to treat a variety of health conditions. Topics covered may include:

    - human biology
    - anatomy
    - exercise and nutrition
    - allied health practice
    - neurological physiotherapy

    Bachelor of Physiotherapy students are also required to complete placements throughout the duration of their course.

  3. Earn a postgraduate degree

    A postgraduate degree builds on the foundational knowledge acquired while pursuing a bachelor’s degree to help you master the core concepts of the profession and the role of a physiotherapist. A two-year Master of Physiotherapy degree will equip you with the competencies, knowledge and skills needed to shine in the physiotherapy industry.

    A postgraduate degree makes it easier for you to meet clients' complex needs. If you want to hone your skills and increase your career prospects, a postgraduate degree can help take your career to the next level.

    Physiotherapists can study a Doctor of Physiotherapy degree or PhD to further their skills, knowledge and clinical experience. A Doctor of Physiotherapy is typically offered as a full-time course and takes three years to complete.

  4. Register with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia

    To work as a qualified physiotherapist, you must register with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia (PBA) through the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

    You will need to renew your registration every year and must hold your current registration to practise legally.

  5. Meet professional development requirements to retain registration

    The Physiotherapy Board of Australia maintains a registration standard. This sets out the PBAs minimum requirements for Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for physiotherapists.

    Accredited CPD courses help professionals maintain and develop their skills and competence to practise safely and effectively.

    Physiotherapists are required to meet the recency of practice registration standard each year. All practising physiotherapists must complete at least 20 hours of CPD per year or registration period.

  6. Start applying for jobs

    Once you are registered, you can start looking for a physiotherapy job. First, decide which type of physiotherapy treatment you want to practise in, either clinical - for instance, sports, geriatric or orthopaedic physiotherapy. Alternatively, non-clinical - like case management or research.

    Once you have decided, you can search for jobs on relevant websites, like Indeed or Seek.

A career in physiotherapy

Tertiary education is essential for becoming a qualified physiotherapist in Australia. These health professionals can work in aged care facilities, rehabilitation centres, sporting organisations, hospitals and private practices. Besides physical therapy, physiotherapists can also work in research, educational or administrative roles.

Considering a career in healthcare? Explore courses available via our partner universities across nursing, public health, counselling, leadership and management, psychology and social work.