Many international students may find themselves interested in pursuing physical therapy as a career after graduation – a career focused on exercise to aid with human disabilities, illness and/or injury. This is a regulated profession in Canada that requires substantial education, pays well, and is expected to be in demand over the periods of 2019-2028 according to the Government of Canada. A great career option for international students!
Physiotherapy Careers in Canada – What’s in Store?
Physiotherapists are experts in helping people through movement and exercise; these people have usually been impacted by disabilities, illness or injury. They are focused on both pain management and disease prevention.
In Canada, physiotherapists have to be licensed in order to practice; the profession is regulated by the province or territory you are working in or intend on working in. If you are working as a physical therapist without a license, this is considered illegal. The Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators will evaluate candidates’ credentials as well as administer exams on behalf of the province or territory in question. There may be additional requirements as well administered by the province that graduates should take note of these as well.
Job Outlook for New Physiotherapists in Canada
In Canada, physical therapists are in-demand; over the period of 2019-2028, this occupational group is expected to face a shortage at the national level according to the Government of Canada. Over this same period, new job openings are expected to total 13600, while new physical therapists seeking jobs will total 11300 as cited by the Government of Canada. In the provinces of British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island demand is expected to be good, while in the remaining provinces it will be fair with the exception of the territories where demand remains undetermined as cited by the Government of Canada.
The new job openings are expected to arise largely because of expansion; the population in Canada is ageing and life expectancy is increasing, leading to a greater demand on the medical system including for physical therapists in the country as mentioned by the Government of Canada.
Physiotherapist Salaries – What Province Has the Highest?
Physiotherapists in Canada can expect to earn a median salary of $38.00 an hour, but the breakdown of the provinces does show some variation as cited by the Government of Canada wage information. Below are the expected median wages for physical therapists in each province as presented by the Government of Canada.
- Alberta – $46.33 per hour
- British Columbia – $39.70 per hour
- Manitoba – $36.00 per hour
- New Brunswick – $36.00 per hour
- Newfoundland and Labrador – $36.02 per hour
- Northwest Territories – N/A
- Nova Scotia – $36.00 per hour
- Nunavut – N/A
- Ontario – $40.00 per hour
- Prince Edward Island – $37.77 per hour
- Quebec – $35.00 per hour
- Saskatchewan – $42.95 per hour
- Yukon Territory – N/A
Physiotherapy Education – Where Should You Study in Canada?
In Canada, physiotherapists can become licensed and take their Physiotherapy Competency Exam once they have completed a master’s degree. Prior to beginning graduate studies in physical therapy, students should take a relevant bachelor’s degree in areas such as kinesiology or health sciences, as a couple of examples.
- The University of Lethbridge – Kinesiology – This is an undergraduate degree program that can be completed as one of the following degree designations: BA, BSc, BA/Bsc, BA/Bed, BA/BM, BSc/BEd, BSc/BM. In each of the degree options, there will be a focus on the study of human development through physical activity. The critical role of physical activity in terms of both individual and cultural perspectives will be considered. Some of the topics covered will be anatomy, culture, exercise physiology, biomechanics, media, motor control, race and ethnicity, and leadership. Students within the kinesiology will have access to a number of opportunities such as an honours thesis, co-operative education, international exchanges and independent, applied studies. The program can be a gateway to an accredited master’s in physical therapy for international students.
- The University of Victoria – Recreation and Health Education – UVIC offers an undergraduate BA degree program in recreation and health education. This is an interdisciplinary major covering topics including recreation, wellness and health promotion, leadership and administration. This particular program includes mandatory co-operative education – this provides international students with the chance to gather relevant work experience right here in Canada, and with potential future employers. Further, qualified students can complete an honours thesis; this a great option for international students looking to do research during their undergraduate. Research is another great experience that can be added to your Canadian resume. Once the program is complete, students can choose to move on to a Master’s of Physical Therapy if becoming a physiotherapist is still their goal.
- The University of British Columbia – Masters of Physical Therapy – For international students who have completed a relevant undergraduate degree and want to become physical therapists, UBC’s Masters of Physical Therapy could be an excellent next step. Some of the major areas of study covered in the MPT program include basic sciences, clinical decision-making, clinical practice, exercise and movement sciences, and rehabilitation research. Students will gain knowledge and skills in these areas through both classroom instruction and 6 clinical placements, all around the province. Completion of the MPT program puts international students in a place to become licensed physical therapists in Canada.
International Student Highlight – Deema Abushaban
Deema moved to Canada completely unaware of what kinesiology was. That all changed when she began attending the University of Lethbridge and took the kinesiology class, KNES1000. She was inspired and wanted to learn further about the human boy; she soon realized that she also wanted to teach others about kinesiology. She is now pursuing a combined degree in education and kinesiology and in the future hopes to become a physical education teacher.
Deema in her career hopes to inspire other Muslim girls to participate in physical activity whenever they are interested. With the University of Lethbridge degree in education and kinesiology, Deema is well prepared for this future career! While this is not a physical therapy position, it is another option that can come out of a kinesiology degree and something international students can work towards.
International students in Canada may have an interest in pursuing a physical therapy career; a career that happens to be highly in demand and Canada and will also pay well! Education to become a physical therapist in Canada will include an undergraduate program followed by a master’s both of which are available to international students depending on the program in question. The door to physical therapy is open to international students here in Canada, so enter if you are ready!