CPD

What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Physiotherapist?

Dr. Carl Clarkson
Dr. Carl Clarkson June 9, 2022
Physiotherapist working with woman's arm

Physiotherapy as a career is on the rise in the UK, with just under 78,000 registered Physiotherapists in 2021. In 2010, there were just 44,000. It’s clearly a popular profession amongst young people these days, but what qualifications are needed to become a Physiotherapist in the UK? In this article, we explain the qualifications needed to become a Physiotherapist in the UK, as well as exploring career progression and potential salaries. 

So, what qualifications do you need to be a physiotherapist? The minimum qualification to be a Physiotherapist in the UK is an undergraduate BSc degree in physiotherapy, although other routes are also available, including an accelerated master’s degree, or a degree apprenticeship. 

Read on to learn more about how to become a Physiotherapist in the UK.

What Qualifications Do You Need to be a Physiotherapist in the UK?

In the UK, the minimum qualification needed to become a Physiotherapist is an undergraduate degree in physiotherapy. However, there is more than one way to gain the necessary qualifications, depending on your background and learning style:

Undergraduate Degree

To become a Physiotherapist in the UK, the minimum qualification requirement is an undergraduate degree (BSc) in physiotherapy. This can be taken full-time (over 3 years), or part-time (over 6 years). Many courses are made up of classroom/lecture-based learning, as well as some aspects of practical learning experiences and placement opportunities, although this will depend on the chosen course.   

Master’s Degree

An alternative way to become a Physiotherapist in the UK is to study a 2-year  accelerated Master’s degree course, following a relevant undergraduate degree. These courses tend to be highly intensive, consisting of taught theory and various clinical practice placements, although this will depend on the chosen course.  

Degree Apprenticeship

Another route to becoming a qualified Physiotherapist in the UK is to undertake a degree apprenticeship. Students can earn the necessary BSc in physiotherapy, whilst working a minimum of 30 hours per week. As such, some institutions require that candidates secure a role before applying. Typically, this route will take around 3 years to complete, but students earn a living alongside earning a degree, and leave with no student fees.

Other Requirements

Once a student has completed their studies, they will then need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) before they can start practising. This must then be renewed every 2 years, with CPD undertaken throughout this period to ensure that knowledge and skills are both maintained and developed, and to prove that they are still fit to practice. 

Entry Requirements for Physiotherapy Courses

An undergraduate degree in physiotherapy is essential to become a Physiotherapist in the UK, but what are the entry requirements for such courses? The below information will help young, budding Physiotherapists to plan ahead and choose the necessary GCSEs and A Levels to kick start their career. 

Bear in mind that the below entry requirements are an average snapshot of national entry requirements for BSc physiotherapy courses, and may differ by institution.

Entry requirements typically include:

  • 128 UCAS points from:

-3 A Levels including biology, human biology, physics, chemistry, or maths

-GCSEs at grade C or above in maths, English language, and at least one science subject (or equivalent)

-BTEC Level 3 in relevant subjects

-IB Diploma: 32 points (including 6 in Higher Level Biology)

Skills that Physiotherapists Need

Alongside the above qualifications, and being registered with the HCPC, Physiotherapists will also need to be armed with a number of key skills that will help them to succeed within the industry, and deliver a good level of care. Some of these include:

  • Need to be good with people, and have good communication skills
  • Need to be fine with close physical contact, and not be “squeamish”
  • Need to be able to work under pressure
  • Good time management and organisational skills
  • Good teamworking skills
  • Good problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • Good observational skills
  • Good personal health and fitness

How Much Do Physiotherapists Earn in the UK?

As of June 2022, once qualified, a Physiotherapist in the NHS can expect to begin at salary band 5, ranging from £24,907 to £30,615. At band 6, senior Physiotherapists can earn between £31,365 and £37,890. More experienced physiotherapists, such as clinical specialists and team leaders typically earn between £38,890 and £44,503 (band 7), whilst advanced practice, extended scope or clinical lead Physiotherapists at band 8 can earn between £45,753 to £51,668. For management roles, such as heads of service (band 8c), Physiotherapists can expect to earn in excess of £63,000. 

In private practice, salaries tend to be higher, and Physiotherapists have the potential to earn up to £75,000 with the right qualifications, skills, and experience. 

How Can Physiotherapists Progress?

In order to reach those higher NHS salary bands or a higher private practice salary, Physiotherapists need to continually demonstrate their learning and development. This may be by specialising in a specific area, and/or by completing CPD. 

Specialisms

There are a number of different specialist areas in which a qualified Physiotherapist can train and work, including:

  • Respiratory physiotherapy 
  • Neurological physiotherapy
  • Musculoskeletal physiotherapy
  • Orthopaedics
  • Paediatrics
  • Sports physiotherapy 
  • Ergonomics

CPD

CPD is a mandatory requirement of HCPC membership, but truly, actively participating, rather than simply making up hours, can do wonders for the career of a physiotherapist, helping them to learn new skills, reflect on their practice, and integrate into the wider community. 

Physiotherapists must complete 30 hours of CPD per cycle. Examples of suitable activities include:

Final Thoughts

It is a relatively simple process to become a Physiotherapist in the UK, so long as candidates are committed to studying and ongoing development. Whilst the minimum qualification requirement is an undergraduate degree (BSc) in physiotherapy, qualified Physiotherapists must then go on to prove their commitment to their professional development through CPD and/or chosen specialisms. 

However, CPD is easy with Breeze Academy. We offer a number of CPD courses for healthcare professionals, running in all major cities across the UK. Whether candidates are interested in incorporating acupuncture and dry needling, sports massage therapy, or clinical yoga into their practice, we have courses that deliver all of the knowledge, skills, and confidence required to succeed. 

Learn more online today, or get in touch with our friendly team.

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