Physical Therapist Resume Skills: Definitions And Examples

Updated 4 March 2023

Physical therapists are health care professionals who reduce their patient's pain and help them regain mobility using treatment plans and physical exercises. Working as a physical therapist requires you to have many skills such as communication, compassion and the ability to use physical therapy equipment and devices. Understanding the skills and abilities required for this job can ensure you get hired for a desirable job. In this article, we discuss what physical therapist skills are, provide a list of examples, discuss how to improve them and explore how to highlight them throughout the hiring process.

What are physical therapist resume skills?

Physical therapist resume skills are abilities that you mention on your resume when applying for a physical therapist role. These skills help clients improve their sense of movement, ensure recovery and prevent sports-related disabilities. By including these skills in your resume, you convey to employers your ability to work with patients experiencing illness and injuries.

Often, employers prefer physical therapists with both hard and soft skills. These professionals learn hard skills while working, while soft skills are inherent. For instance, treatment planning is a skill that they can gain through practice, while interpersonal skills often come naturally to these professionals.

Related: Top Careers In Physiotherapy (Job Opportunities And Salary)

Examples of physical therapist resume skills

Here are a few physical therapist abilities that can help you become successful in your career:

Ability to use various equipment and devices

Physical therapists use many devices to ease their patient's pain and help them recover after an injury. These professionals might use reflex hammers, neurological testing instruments, ultrasound, resistance exercise bands hydrotherapy, grip dynamometers, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and speed massage guns. Teaching patients to use common assistive devices like splints, prosthetics and wheelchairs is desirable for this role.

Physical stamina

A physical therapist spends a significant part of the workday focussing on tasks requiring stamina and dexterity. Employers prefer a physical therapist who can efficiently perform tasks that require them to prepare equipment and devices for patient use. These professionals require physical stamina to bend, kneel and walk while performing their duties. Also, employers prefer physically strong professionals because they perform tasks, such as setting up equipment and cleaning the work area and machines. You are more likely to succeed as a physical therapist if you enjoy performing physical work.


It is essential for physical therapists to maintain a detailed record of their patient's conditions and the specific treatments they are using. Both employers and patients expect these professionals to keep track of the patient's progress and make changes to promote the patient's recovery. This skill set helps determine each patient's pain tolerance, monitor vital signs and observe patients as they move through exercises. Being detailed-oriented is essential for this job role because a therapist might prepare discharge reports detailing the results of the treatment plans.

Patient care

One of the primary responsibilities of a physical therapist is providing reliable care to patients. Showing excellent patient care helps build trust and improves their condition and quality of life. When patients know you understand them, it helps in improving their condition and overall health. Also, patient care means creating treatment plans based on the patient's condition and needs. These professionals create physical therapy examinations and customise treatment plans based on their diagnoses and finding. Also, these professionals regularly update their treatment plans to show care to patients and ensure a faster recovery.

Communication skills

Effective communication skills are essential for a fulfilling career because it helps in achieving long-term and short-term goals. As a physical therapist, you constantly communicate with patients and other medical team members, which requires excellent verbal communication skills. Having the ability to communicate various steps to perform a specific exercise requires excellent communication skills. Also, the ability to listen to patients during diagnosis and treatment is essential for this role.

These skills help take notes, develop and review patient treatment plans and discuss the new information with the patient and their family members. A therapist requires strong communication skills to grow their technical knowledge and become successful in their career.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions And Examples

Compassion and empathy

As a physical therapist works with people in pain, employers prefer candidates who are compassionate and empathetic about their patients. The ability to sympathise with patients and understand how they feel gives motivation and encouragement to sick patients. Often, these professionals might overcome a patient's resistance and anger with care and affection. When the treatment plan does not go as planned, it is essential to be tolerant and patient.

Observation skills

A physical therapist requires observation skills to track a patient's progress and make changes. The ability to gauge a patient's reaction to specific exercises helps create the best treatment plan. Observation skills can help these professionals rectify errors and learn from them while still making the patients feel comfortable. When conducting an ultrasound or using other physical therapy equipment, these observation skills can help detect any underlying disease.

How to improve your physical therapist skills

Here are some steps to follow to improve your therapist skills:

1. Find a mentor

Consider speaking with an experienced professional who offers guidance, feedback and support. Often, a physical therapist starts their career by working with a mentor. A mentor can provide support and advice if you struggle with a certain particular concept. Working with a licensed professional can help you learn more about this job role and ways you can improve your skills.

Related: What Is A Mentor And How To Find the Right One For You

2. Build your professional network

After finding a mentor, focus on growing your professional network and meeting other individuals in the physical therapist field. When you communicate with like-minded individuals, it becomes easier to share tips for a successful career. Professionals in the network can help you with the application process of getting hired for a desirable physical therapist job role. Also, by strengthening your professional network, you can identify skills that might require improvement and help you understand your strengths.

3. Pursue your higher education

Continuing your education by pursuing certifications and post-graduate courses can help to increase the skills required to become a successful physical therapist. You can learn about various techniques through these courses, including pain-reducing and relief management techniques and techniques to prevent surgeries and disabilities. These courses help you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in physical therapy.

4. Exercise regularly

Exercising regularly gives you the stamina to complete your work duties. As a physical therapist requires physical stamina, focus on exercising regularly to increase your stamina. Focus on creating a workout and gym schedule every week to strengthen your muscles.

Physical therapist skills in the workplace

Use these ways to show your physical therapist skills in the workplace:

  • Practise empathy. An excellent way to show strong physical therapist skills is practising empathy in your workplace. Focus on empathising with the patient's situation and giving full attention to them.

  • Manage your time. Often, a physical therapist is responsible for multitasking and handling various tasks, making it essential to have strong time management skills. An excellent way to manage your time is by delegating tasks and creating an organised schedule to complete one work before moving on to the next one.

  • Be a self-starter. To become successful as a physical therapist, it is essential to be a starter and self-motivator. To display this skill set in your workplace, set goals for yourself and ensure you reach them before creating another goal.

  • Create treatment plans. To help your patients recover and reduce their pain, focus on creating treatment plans that focus on healing activities and coping mechanisms. Creating a holistic treatment plan requires excellent problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

How to highlight your physical therapist skills

Here are a few ways in which you can highlight your skills during the hiring process:

1. On a resume

For highlighting your skills on a resume, focus on adding a skill section and include your hard and soft skills to show your abilities. Before writing the resume, review the job description and include keywords. Keywords are words or phrases that describe the type of candidate an employer wants. Including skills from the job description makes your resume applicant tracking system compliant and ensures you get shortlisted for a desirable job. If possible, provide a quantifiable example of every skill you include. You can even place your skills in the professional summary, work experience and achievement sections.

2. In a cover letter

To provide an in-depth overview of your skills and experience, focus on submitting a cover letter with your resume. Choose one to three physical therapy skills to highlight in your cover letter. To increase your chances of getting hired for a desirable job, give an example of each skill. This can differentiate you from other candidates.

3. During an interview

A job interview allows you to show skills before hiring managers. Many hiring managers might ask questions about your skills, so ensure you prepare for commonly asked interview questions to display your skills. Additionally, you can display your interpersonal and communication skills during your interview. When talking about your skills, be humble and confident.

Related: Top PTA Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

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