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Surgery Rehabilitation Jobs: Employment Information

Explore the work responsibilities of surgery rehabilitation professionals. Learn what education and training is needed as well as the employment outlook and salary to decide if this is the correct career choice.

Career Definition for a Surgery Rehabilitation Professional

The surgery rehabilitation professions involve helping medical patients recover from surgery by supervising exercise programs, providing job skills training, helping the patients relearn how to speak or providing therapy for mental issues that result from different types of surgery. Some of the people who work in the surgery rehabilitation professions are registered nurses who provide general assistance to patients recovering from surgery, while others are specialized therapists who help with one specific area of rehabilitation. Most surgery rehabilitation professionals work in hospitals or private rehabilitation clinics.

Required Education A bachelor's degree as a minimum and certification in the area of specialization
Job Duties Include supervising exercise programs, providing job skills training and helping patients relearn how to speak
Median Salary (2017)* $86,850 (physical therapists)
$70,000 (registered nurses)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 28% growth (physical therapists)
15% growth (registered nurses)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Most jobs in the surgery rehabilitation professions require at least a 4-year bachelor's degree in addition to some type of certification, depending on the area of specialization. Some professions, such as physical therapists and occupational therapists, require a master's or doctoral degree and state certification along with a bachelor's degree. Students considering entering the surgery rehabilitation professions should take courses like physiology, nutrition, psychology, anatomy, nursing and chemistry.

Skills Needed

Surgery rehabilitation professionals need excellent communication skills and patience. These workers also need an eye for detail and the ability to track and monitor patients' progress.

Career and Economic Outlook

While job growth estimates vary based on areas of specialization, the overall career outlook for surgery rehabilitation professions should be very strong. For instance, physical therapists are expected to see a 28% increase in employment from 2016 to 2026, while registered nurses can expect to see a 15% increase during the same span, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual salary for registered nurses is around $70,000, and physical therapists made a median of about $86,850 a year, as of May 2017 (www.bls.gov).

Alternative Careers

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

Physical Therapist Assistant

For those who may be interested in physical therapy but do not like the extensive educational requirements, a physical therapist assistant career should be considered. Under the supervision of a physical therapist, these assistants execute treatment plans that include stretching, massage and exercise. They also record progress in patient files, answer questions and show patients how to use walkers and other equipment. To work in this occupation, an associate degree is necessary, and licensure through examination is also required by all states. A 31% increase in the employment of physical therapist assistants is predicted by the BLS from 2016-2026, resulting in the creation of 27,400 new jobs nationwide. The BLS determined that these professionals received a median income of $57,430 in 2017.

Rehabilitation Counselor

For those who want to coordinate rehabilitation services for clients in addition to offering mental health counseling services, becoming a rehabilitation counselor may be a good career option. Rehabilitation counselors meet with patients who have physical and emotional disabilities, analyze goals and needs, discuss issues in therapy sessions and create treatment plans after receiving input from other medical professionals. They also help patients obtain products and services such as career training, medical treatment, mobility devices and legal advice. Entering this field requires a master's degree in a related area of study. All states require rehabilitation counselors to obtain licensure if they offer mental health counseling services. According to BLS figures from May of 2017, these professionals received $34,860 in median wages. The BLS also projects that job opportunities for rehabilitation counselors will increase by 13% between 2016 and 2026.


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