Job description and career prospects

In Germany there are approximately 190,000 physiotherapists (according to the Federal Statistical Office). However the number of physiotherapists being trained has been decreasing over the last few years mainly due to falling birthrates. At the same time society is aging and the amount of chronic illness requiring the attention of qualified therapists is increasing. Career perspectives are therefore excellent and most physiotherapists have a secure job even before they graduate.

Physiotherapists work in many settings in both the public and private sectors. These vary widely depending on the institution (hospital, rehab clinic, practice, etc.) and the region. Gross starting pay for a full-time position lies between €1,600 and €2,600. In the public sector a physio with a bachelor degree will start at the civil service salary grade of 10. Those with school training normally only start at grade 7.

Income is important, but, for most physios, is not the deciding factor in choosing a career. The wide-ranging and varied work as well as the broad career pathways offer a high level of job satisfaction and flexible working arrangements which make it easier to combine family and work.

This is what a Physiotherapy degree from HFU gives you:

  • Reflective applied physiotherapy (practice on patients)
  • Responsibility for tasks, e.g. team leadership and quality assurance
  • Ability to work independently within multi-professional teams
  • Project management skills in specialist areas
  • Work in preventative physiotherapy and health promotion
  • Scientific reflection and testing of evidence
  • Ability to modify professional behaviour appropriately
  • Qualification for Master's degree programme
  • Access to the international job market

What do physiotherapists do?

Physiotherapists are trained to work in various specialist areas of medicine. They also work in the areas of prevention and health promotion.

In medical specialist areas, physios work closely with doctors, carers and other therapy professionals. In outpatient physio practices, they often work in one or more specialist areas.

The medical specialist areas are defined as follows:

Orthopaedics

Diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory or degenerative illnesses, birth defects or tumors of the musculosceletal system or injury to the musculosceletal system caused by accidents.

Surgery

Surgery involves the operative treatment of the various body systems (organs, nerve systems, musculosceletal systems) which can occur at birth, or through illness or accidents.

 

Neurology

Diagnosis and treatment of illnesses of the central (brain and spinal marrow) and peripheral (nerves) nerve systems, either congenital or acquired (illness, accident).

 

Internal medicine

Diagnosis and treatment of illnesses of the inner organs (e.g. heart, lungs)

 

Pediatrics

In paediatrics congenital illnesses, or illnesses acquired in infancy or youth, or those which are the result of accidents, diagnosed and treated.

 

Geriatrics

The diagnosis and treatment of age-specific illnesses, which can in turn be orthopaedic, neuralgic, psychiatric or internally related.

Gynocology

Diagnosis and treatment of illnesses of the female sexual and reproductive tracts (e.g. breast cancer), as well as treatment during pregnancy and post partum.

Preventative care

A variety of preventative services are offered by physiotherapists often in conjunction with the medical insurance companies who finance the treatment. These measures are designed to help prevent illnesses linked to existing risk factors (e.g. lack of physical activity or particularly strenuous physical activity). These preventative measures usually take the form of group courses either in the physiotherapy practice or in the workplace.

Some examples are:

  • Back pain programmes (to prevent lower back pain)
  • Ergonomics in the workplace (Counselling and education for those working under stressful workplace conditions)
  • Physical activity for overweight people (Weight reduction measures to avoid the negative consequences connected with being overweight)
  • Fall prevention (Measures to improve the strength and coordination of those susceptible to falls)

In health promotion, the focus is on measures to improve the productivity of the available human resources of all ages. For example, physiotherapists can promote health by offering physical activities specifically customized for each target group, whether in schools, universities, companies or senior citizens' homes.