Advice For High School Students Interested In a Future Career As a Physiotherapist

Written by Kash Mahdi

Kash graduated from Queen’s University with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy in 2015. Kash has worked in many different settings including acute care, inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, skilled nursing, and private practice. In these various settings he has worked with neuro, cardioresp, musculoskeletal, pediatric, and geriatric populations.

March 19, 2022

It’s never too early to start thinking about your future career. For high school students, career planning can seem daunting, but it’s an important process that will help you figure out what you want to do as a career. While some students may know exactly what they want to do, others may be unsure. That’s ok! Many people not only change jobs, but change careers multiple times in their lifetime. The purpose of this article is to work as a starting point for high school students interested in learning more about the physiotherapy profession and provide advice to students interested in pursuing physiotherapy as a career.

Figure out if Physiotherapy is the right career for you

There is projected to be a large labour shortage for physiotherapists at a national level. This means that physiotherapists will be in even more demand in the future than they are now. It’s important to know whether or not the career path you decide to pursue will have jobs available, but before you invest time and money into pursuing a degree or other training it’s equally important to try to figure out if the career is a right fit for YOU. Physiotherapy is generally considered as a career with high job satisfaction, but not every physiotherapist (PT) is happy with their job. There can be multiple factors and reasons why they may not be happy in their careers, for some it may have never been a good fit. The process of being a PT is a long and expensive process. Before deciding to pursue a career in physiotherapy it’s important to get a good understanding of what being a physiotherapist entails and figure out if physiotherapy is aligned with your interests, personality, and life goals. We created this site to help anyone interested in learning more about becoming a physiotherapist do just that. Check out our blog sections to learn more about the physiotherapy profession including a more detailed article to help you determine if physiotherapy is the right career for you.

Shadow a Physiotherapist

Job shadowing is a great way to learn about a potential career, see what a typical day looks like in that career, and determine if the career is a good fit for you. Not only do we recommend that you shadow physiotherapists, but we also recommend shadowing people in other professions as well. Physiotherapists can work in many different settings (e.g., hospital, private clinics, rehabilitation centers, sports teams, etc.) and specialize in different areas of physiotherapy practice (e.g., neurology, cardiopulmonary, musculoskeletal, pediatrics, etc.). The roles and responsibilities of physiotherapists working in different settings and areas of physiotherapy can be vastly different from each other. This is why we suggest shadowing multiple therapists in different settings and areas of practice to help you figure out if any of the paths within physiotherapy appeals to you.

Volunteer with a Physiotherapist

Volunteering with a physiotherapist allows you to work closely with a physiotherapist, interact with patients, and potentially be given responsibilities that help give you a glimpse of what it would be like working as a physiotherapist. A single bad volunteer experience could end up being a complete turn off from a profession that could have potentially been a great fit for you. If physiotherapy is a career you think you would be interested in pursuing, we recommend taking on many different volunteer opportunities within physiotherapy to help you gain a more well rounded experience and a better understanding of the profession. Some physiotherapy programs require volunteer or work experience as a prerequisite. Gaining volunteer experience as early as high-school can allow you the time to gain varying experiences that can help you stand out among other applicants when the time comes to apply to a physiotherapy program. The physiotherapists you volunteer with may also become valuable references for your physiotherapy school application or for future jobs. Volunteer positions can also potentially turn into job opportunities at the facilities you volunteer at. This can be a great way to continue to learn while you earn. If you’d like to learn how to find volunteer opportunities, check out our article “5 Ways To Find Volunteer Opportunities Related To Physiotherapy”.

Take science courses in high school

Many physiotherapy programs in Canada have undergraduate course requirements that include science courses such as physiology, biology, and physics. Taking science courses in high school will help give you foundational knowledge, making it easier to learn and successfully pass university level science courses. If your high school offers a course in exercise science, take it! High school exercise science class has been the catalyst for many physiotherapists to pursue a career in physiotherapy. For many students the exercise science class is their first time learning about anatomy, physiology, and movement sciences. Taking an exercise science class in high school will let you discover whether the human body and its functions is something you are interested in learning more about in higher education. This was my personal favorite course in high school and what made me decide to choose to study Kinesiology as my undergraduate major and what ultimately led me to pursue a career as a physiotherapist.

Decide on an undergraduate degree major

When it comes to choosing an undergraduate degree major, there are a lot of things to consider. If you want to become a physiotherapist, you have to go to university. Physiotherapy programs in Canada (with the exception of a handful of French programs in Quebec) are post-graduate master’s degree programs. This means that you have to first complete a bachelor’s degree prior to entering a physiotherapy program in Canada. There are no specific undergraduate degree requirements to apply to physiotherapy programs. There are, however, specific course requirements for different physiotherapy programs. While there are no undergraduate degree requirements for admission to physiotherapy school, some majors are more closely related to physiotherapy and may help you fulfill more of the physiotherapy school course requirements. Check out our article “The Best Undergraduate Majors For Physiotherapy” to learn about different undergraduate degrees that can be beneficial for physiotherapy school and a career as a physiotherapist.


Pursuing a career as a physiotherapist can be very rewarding. It is a challenging and diverse field that will require hard work and dedication. If you are passionate about helping people to regain their health, then this may be the perfect career for you.

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