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Physical and Occupational Therapists


Physical and occupational therapies are programs of treatment and exercise for patients disabled from illness or injury. Physical and occupational therapists plan and administer therapy to help patients adjust to disabilities, regain independence, and prepare to return to work.

What They Do

Physical and occupational therapists in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

Physical Demands

Physical and occupational therapists may have to lift and support patients during exercises and treatments.

Special Requirements

A four-year college degree in physical or occupational therapy and completion of a clinical program in physical or occupational therapy are required to enter this career. Depending on specialty, a state physical therapy license or eligibility for registration with the American Occupational Therapy Association may also be required.

Helpful Attributes

Helpful attributes include:

Helpful School Subjects

No information available.

Helpful Fields of Study

No information available.

Work Environment

Physical and occupational therapists work in hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, and other medical facilities.

Services offering this career:

Hiring Practices

To serve in the military, a person must be at least 17; the maximum age for enlistment varies. To enlist, a person must pass a physical exam and an aptitude test. An enlistee must also meet military standards of discipline and be a US citizen or permanent resident alien.

This position is for officers.


The military is competitive with the civilian world when it comes to pay and benefits. All branches offer the same basic pay and benefits.

Pay depends mainly on rank or grade as well as length of service. Bonuses and the situation in which the person is serving (for example: flight duty, sea duty, hazardous duty) also affect pay. 

Cost-of-living increases usually occur every year, based on inflation. The military also pays allowances for food, clothing, and housing. All these factors combined are called Regular Military Compensation (RMC). They should all be considered when comparing military pay to civilian pay.

There are two main parts to RMC: basic pay and allowances. There are also additional incentives for special abilities, training, or hazardous duty.

Check out the RMC Calculator to calculate your RMC based on your inputs.

Training Provided

No initial job training is provided to officers in this career.

Civilian Counterparts

Civilian physical and occupational therapists work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, schools, and community mental health centers. They perform duties similar to those performed by military therapists. Civilian physical and occupational therapists often specialize in treating a particular type of patient, such as children, the elderly, the severely disabled, or those who have lost arms or legs (amputees).

Related Civilian Careers

Employment and Outlook

In peace time the services have about 500 physical and occupational therapists. In times of military action the number may be different, depending on the type of specialties required. Each year the services need new therapists due to changes in personnel and the demands of the field. Positions for physical and occupational therapists in the Coast Guard are filled by US Public Health Service Officers. Physical and occupational therapists have the opportunity to advance to senior management or command positions in medical administration.