The Two PTS | Personal Trainer vs Physical Therapist

It’s the battle of the PTs! Two may enter, only one will remain! Okay, this isn’t the healthcare ThunderDome (sorry Mad Max fans). However, this is often a point of debate and a fork in the road for many healthcare professionals. While personal trainers and physical therapists have very different job descriptions, they are actually pretty similar when you get down to the bare bones. Both are patient-focused careers that deal with the physical health of a person. They require extensive knowledge of the human body and how it functions. Some personal trainers often become physical therapists and vice versa. Below let’s take a look at the comparison between personal trainer vs physical therapist.

Personal Trainer vs Physical Therapist

The Rehab

The biggest difference when it comes to a personal trainer vs physical therapist is the rehab they are involved with. A physical therapist is designed to treat and rehabilitate musculoskeletal injuries. This will often come after a major accident or medical emergencies like a broken bone, stroke, or torn ligament. They are educated to help the rehabilitation process go as smoothly as possible.

Personal trainers, on the other hand, focus more on the strengthening and growth of flexibility, strength, and overall fitness. They normally do not partake in the rehab process and instead are focused on maximizing the physical performance of a client.

personal trainer vs physical therapist

To put it in simple terms. A physical therapist is about getting back to your baseline when it comes to strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. A personal trainer is for when you want to (pun intended) raise the bar.


There are a lot more steps to become a physical therapist compared to a personal trainer. When it comes to personal trainer vs physical therapist, a person can become a personal trainer in a relatively short amount of time. Personal trainers will normally get an overall certification that will take a few weeks, and then they can get certified in certain exercises. This can include certifications in CrossFit, kettlebells, and even yoga.

Physical therapists, on the other hand, require a lot more education. Physical therapists must obtain a doctor of physical therapy degree, which typically takes three years of study beyond the prerequisite four-year bachelor’s degree. All states also have a licensure program that requires potential physical therapists to pass an exam as well. Physical therapists can also become certified in certain specialties as well!

Making the Switch

We’re seeing a growing trend of personal trainers making the switch and becoming physical therapists. Why is that? Well, one of the bigger discrepancies we see when comparing personal trainer vs physical therapist is the money. You can make a lot more money as a physical therapist. Physical therapists make, on average, $80,000 per year. Personal trainers, on the other hand, are usually paid hourly and significantly less than a physical therapist. This is why we’re starting to see more and more personal trainers make the switch to physical therapy.

In many cases, personal trainers have gained the experience of helping and watching a person grow with his or her fitness. They often see physical therapy as a different form of personal training. We also often see physical therapist students working as personal trainers while they’re still in school. This gives them experience working with clients as they pursue their new careers.

These are just a few things to think about when we’re comparing a personal trainer vs physical therapist. If you’re interested in a physical therapist job you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got thousands of jobs waiting to be filled! What are you waiting for? Start your new adventure today!

Author: Troy Diffenderfer

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