Careers Paths

How to Work as a Senior Therapist (With Skills)

You can think about working as a senior therapist if you have a significant amount of knowledge in the therapy industry or want to learn more. This role is crucial to various therapeutic approaches and can lead to a variety of fulfilling experiences. You might be able to evaluate if this job is a good fit for you after learning more about it.

Regardless of the form of therapy—psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, family therapy, or pretty much any other kind—, the senior therapist is in charge. The senior therapist is involved in every step of the process, from overseeing other therapists to creating treatment options for clients and making sure the clinic runs smoothly.

The senior therapist job necessitates a great deal of decision-making, organization, and personnel development, similar to any other managerial position. In addition to creating therapy programs, working with other healthcare professionals, and verifying compliance, they are also in charge of teaching other therapists. Despite this, being a senior therapist necessitates having excellent leadership, time management, organization, and communication abilities.

A senior therapist’s annual pay is about $50,000. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in psychology, human services, or a related field is required to practice as a senior therapist. Additionally, employers frequently need between two and four years of experience, particularly in a supervisory capacity.

In this post, we define senior therapists, describe their roles, offer advice regarding how to become one, and provide data on salaries and employment prospects for these positions.

What exactly is a senior therapist?

Senior therapists are professionals that operate in therapeutic settings and have years of experience and training in the field. These professionals frequently oversee therapy programs, manage a team of therapists, and provide knowledge and insight into their work. They offer helpful advice and perceptive solutions that could enhance the capacity of their team members to deliver efficient therapeutic care.

Several senior therapists need to possess specific abilities to carry out their duties. We were able to identify the most typical qualifications for someone in this position by reviewing resumes. We found that speaking, listening, and compassion qualities were frequently stated on resumes.

What is the job of a senior therapist?

Senior occupational therapists are highly skilled and certified medical professionals that assist older people in regaining their independence following an illness or disability. Seniors are treated and evaluated while they complete rehabilitation exercises or therapies intended to improve mobility and repair injured body parts by these professionals. The following is a list of the typical duties of senior therapists:

  • Respond to the client’s queries and any additional requirements they may have.
  • Educate your team members on chances for growth and learning
  • Consider their methods in reflection and aid in appropriately directing their group.
  • Give therapists who are taking on new patients feedback.
  • Stay informed on developments in the therapy and psychological health fields, especially about innovative methods and new strategies for helping existing clients.
  • Assist at departmental meetings and other crucial activities
  • Hold frequent meetings with their team, invite them to consider their approach, and provide your expertise as guidance.
  • Attend staff meetings and speak about topics about the department there.
  • Assess the extent of an injury or sickness by evaluating the patient.
  • Recognize any physical restrictions on a patient’s balance, dexterity, and motion range.
  • Plan the appropriate plan of action for the patient’s care to hasten and safely facilitate their recovery.
  • Guide patients through activities to improve their strength, coordination, and agility.
  • Utilize medication and medical equipment for patient rehabilitation, such as a goniometer that monitors joint angles.
  • Perform therapeutic procedures on the impacted regions, like electrical stimulation or massage.
  • Seniors should be coached and encouraged to re-learn specific procedures and activities as they strive toward recuperation.

Career Paths for senior therapists

As your job progresses, you might find that you’re assuming greater responsibility or a leadership position. A senior therapist can identify their career objectives by following career development using our career map. For instance, they might start in a position like clinical supervisor, advance to a title like a clinical manager, and then ultimately land in the position of clinical services director.

Getting into the senior therapy field

You can do the following steps to develop into a senior therapist:

1. Work towards a bachelor’s degree

One of the initial things to think about if you want to work as a senior therapist is how much schooling you’ll need. 53.2% of senior therapists, according to our analysis, hold a bachelor’s degree. In regards to higher education, we discovered that master’s degrees are held by 31.8% of senior therapists. Even though the majority of senior therapists hold a college degree, becoming one requires only a high school diploma or GED.

A bachelor’s degree in a therapy-related field, like psychiatry or human services, could make you eligible for entry-level therapy jobs, which you should explore before rising to the position of a senior therapist. These degrees might provide courses that help you become better at giving insightful advice to people seeking therapy. These programs include:

Overview of Addictions and drug use

  • Human Sexuality in Therapy
  • Ethics in professional counseling
  • Family and marriage counseling
  • Psychological theories

2. Finish a graduate program

Then, you can think about finishing a pertinent graduate degree with an emphasis on a certain kind of therapy. Before working as a senior therapist in the field of marriage and family therapy, for instance, you might earn a doctoral degree in that area. These degrees might offer research and thesis options that let you hone your understanding of a specific therapeutic practice component. Additionally, you might be able to enroll in graduate-level courses on a variety of pertinent subjects, like certain ideas and methods of therapy.

3. Gain experience in the therapeutic industry.

Before working as a senior therapist, it’s critical to get real-world experience in the therapy industry. Working with patients directly and groups of other therapists, this experience may help you gain practical therapeutic experience. You can get several skills necessary for therapeutic work, like communication, empathy, critical reasoning, and problem-solving, by working in the therapy sector.

4. Acquire managerial expertise

Being a senior therapist sometimes involves managing teams of other therapists and running group sessions, thus managerial experience is also crucial. This kind of experience can help you gain the abilities needed to manage a team and give you helpful perspectives on a variety of work-related situations. Given that numerous managerial professions call for the same skill sets, management expertise in virtually any industry might be helpful for this vocation.

Skills for a senior therapist

You want your resume’s skills section to accurately represent your abilities because it could be almost as significant as the experience section. Fortunately, we’ve identified every talent you’ll need, therefore even if you do not presently possess them, you know what to work on. 11.7% of senior therapists with resumes that we reviewed cited social work, but soft skills like speaking and listening ability are equally as crucial. Before applying for senior therapy positions, you should develop the following skills:


Senior therapists communicate with their patients and staff members and explain the therapeutic process to them using their communication abilities. They frequently employ these abilities when offering clients professional counseling to foster sentiments of support and well-being. Senior therapists’ facilitation of communication skills in counseling treatments is one instance. Senior therapists may employ their effective communication abilities in these cases to comprehend their patient’s feelings and work toward a solution.

Critical thinking

This kind of expertise helps provide precise therapeutic answers or for resolving problems that may occur in the lives of their customers or the workplace. Senior therapists, for instance, might assess mental illnesses using critical thinking techniques and offer beneficial treatments. They might also use this ability to examine difficulties that arise inside their teams, such as scheduling or financial concerns.

Time management

Senior therapists frequently need to learn time management techniques because they often have to finish a lot of duties in one day. Writing reports about their interactions with clients, following up with professional developments, and holding frequent meetings with their colleagues are a few examples of these tasks. Senior therapists must be able to prioritize these activities to do them quickly without sacrificing the standard of their job.

Therapeutic methods

Senior therapists employ a range of strategies to assist their patients in achieving optimal mental health. Psychotherapy, counseling, group sessions, family counseling, and other procedures that are suitable for the clientele may be used as treatments. This crucial ability enables therapists to comprehend the kind of therapy that is more frequently beneficial. In collaboration with their groups of psychiatrists and psychologists, they might also use this information to develop customized treatment plans.

Salary for senior therapists

Senior behavioral therapists earn an average salary of $49,244, while senior counselors earn an average of $47,167 annually. As a senior therapist, your pay will probably fall within that range, though it may change based on your qualifications, work history, and company. Location is another aspect that could have a significant impact on your pay.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, senior therapists will have substantially better career chances than the average over the coming ten years. This is a result of an older population that will require more help to maintain their standard of living. Another expanding population that many senior therapists work with is people who have disabilities.

Job Prospects for senior therapists

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2030, there will be an additional 8% of jobs for all kinds of psychologists, notwithstanding the lack of information regarding the employment prospects for senior therapists especially. This growth rate is a little higher than the overall average. Additionally, many firms might be more receptive to hiring therapists with more expertise.

Schooling, training, and certifications for senior care physical therapy assistants

Our step-by-step manual outlines the requirements for becoming a physical therapy assistant in senior care:

1. Register for a degree course for physical therapist assistants (PTA).

Enrolling in a PTA course at a university or college that has received accreditation is the initial step in becoming a physical therapist assistant who specializes in senior care. Almost everyone ready to put in the effort in school and maintain their focus throughout their degree course will be able to find a PTA career.

A high school diploma or GED, a passing grade on the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), and a steady Internet connection are requirements for admission to Provo College’s PTA degree course. Additional requirements for PTA programs could include passing background investigations or drug tests.

2. Obtain an associate’s degree as a physical therapist assistant.

Your physical therapist assistant training will contain general education prerequisites like math, English, science, and psychology, similar to many associate’s degree courses. All of these courses improve your ability to solve problems, think critically, and communicate effectively despite not having a direct connection to patient care.

The majority of your PTA degree course will be devoted to developing your patient care and physiotherapy foundations. You’ll discover more about the human body and the way it functions, recovers, and heals at every stage of life. As a senior care PTA, you may anticipate taking classes in kinesiology, pharmacology, orthopedics, and human anatomy. These topics will help you care for elderly patients. In addition, you’ll get a lot of practice guiding patients through workout and rehabilitation programs.

You will carry out monitored therapy work with actual patients in a clinical environment as part of your physical therapist assistant training. There is no alternative to practical experience when it comes to developing the abilities and instincts required to appropriately care for older people.

When choosing where to pursue your physical therapist assistant degree, take into account universities that provide extra perks like career counseling and job placement assistance. An excellent method to launch your new profession is to complete your PTA education at a school that can put you in touch with recruiters.

3. Take the National Physical Therapy Examination and pass.

You must pass the PTA version of the National Physical Therapy Exam before receiving your PTA licensure and starting your job as a senior care physical therapist assistant (NPTE). By passing this test, you can show that you have the skills necessary to provide patients with safe and effective care, especially the elderly patients you’ll be caring for as a senior care PTA. The test consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. You’ll have about four hours to finish the test.

For practically all PTA students, it is advised to take a practice test before taking the actual NPTE. The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy offers sample tests (the same company that manages the NPTE). You can get a sense of what to expect from the test by using the Practice Exam and Assessment Tool, or PEAT. PEAT offers real-time feedback as well, which can be used to determine which subjects need further review before the test.

Even individuals who go on to become successful PTAs don’t always ace the NPTE the first time. If you don’t achieve the necessary pass mark on your first attempt, you can repeat the test. However, you should be aware that you may only take the examination three times every 12 months. You’ll be able to launch your new PTA profession as soon as possible if you commit yourself to learning the subject and passing the qualifying examination on your first attempt.

4. Obtain a State-by-State PTA License

After passing the NPTE, you will be qualified to apply for a license in the state where you intend to work. Since the NPTE is a national examination, it is typically easy to transfer your results and obtain a license in other states. This versatility enables you to pursue the highest-paying PTA positions across the nation or to move your PTA career to any elder care facility of your choice. You should consult the Federation of State Agencies of Physical Therapy to learn about the PTA license criteria in each state.

The requirements for keeping your PTA license differ by state. Most states, meanwhile, will occasionally demand the successful completion of continuing education courses or documentation of present job and related job experience.

Most senior care PTAs who are paid the most also possess advanced credentials that attest to their expertise in providing care for elderly people. The American Physical Therapy Association provides PTAs with several advanced competence options, including a geriatrics concentration. PTAs with ambition might obtain a multiple of these advanced certificates to stand out as candidates for potential jobs. Other areas of expertise that are useful for a senior care physical therapist assistant profession include neurology and orthopedics.

5. Acquire Job Experience and New Certifications

Many businesses choose to employ physical therapist assistants who have at least some essential physical therapy experience. At the same time, some PTAs can find positions in senior-care facilities just after graduating with their PTA degree. PTAs that engage with older persons must have a complete understanding of the risks and factors that come into play when giving physical therapy since they are more vulnerable to injury than other patient populations.

How Much Does Training to Be a Physical Therapist Assistant in Senior Care Cost?

Depending on your financial status and the institution you attend, acquiring an associate’s degree as a physical therapist assistant might be very expensive. Ask how much you can anticipate paying for books, lab fees, and other supplies while considering the price of college. Some institutions will include all of these as part of a flat-rate price per credit hour, which will ultimately cost you less money.

Ask about programs for financial assistance that might make college substantially more inexpensive wherever you are pursuing your PTA education. Professional financial aid personnel are available at several universities to assist you in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Programs for senior therapists to gain professional experience

Programs that simulate real-world professional experience provide you with the skills you need to succeed when applying to and working at top businesses. Acquire the necessary skills in a few hours to finish a regular workday at that organization. Programs for virtual job experience are open-access, self-paced, and completely free. No prior knowledge or qualifications are necessary!

States that are ideal for a senior therapist

In terms of beginning a profession as a senior therapist, some locations are preferable to others. Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York are the best states for someone in this role. In Pennsylvania, senior therapists earn an average salary of $79,361. In contrast, they would average $72,966 and $69,009 in Rhode Island and New Jersey, respectively.

Although the average salary for senior therapists in New York is only $68,854, this is still greater than the rest of the nation. These are the states we found to have the most jobs and the highest salaries. We reduced our selection of states to these four by determining the median wage, the costs of living, and the Location Ratio from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


PTAs working in senior care have countless chances to learn from those who have lived long and full lives. Working with elderly people is enjoyable because you get to see them remain capable and active long into their later years. Additionally, you’ll discover that you frequently create long-lasting bonds with your patients and their loved ones.

Frequently Asked Questions about Senior Therapists

  • What Education Do You Need to Work as an Assistant Physical Therapist in Senior Care?

You must finish a physiotherapist assistant associate’s degree course from a recognized institution or university to work as a senior care PTA. A PTA degree can be obtained in as little as 21 months by enrolling in an expedited degree program, whereas most associate’s degree courses involve two full years of study.

  • How Much Time Is Required to Become an Assistant Physical Therapist in Senior Care?

When divided into several smaller phases, the road to becoming a senior care PTA can seem more doable, just like any other long-term objective. Individuals who attend PTA courses part-time while also holding a full-time job may require longer to finish their degree than PTA students who enroll in a full course load.

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