Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

In general, job prospects for physiotherapists are good. Physiotherapists are in demand to treat a growing and ageing population.

How to become a physiotherapist

What they do

Physiotherapists work to maintain and promote people’s health, particularly when there is a disability or problem related to movement caused by some kind of physical or other disorder. Their work covers all ages from premature babies to the elderly.

Their tasks may include:

  • administering muscle, nerve, joint and functional ability tests to identify and assess physical problems of patients
  • designing treatment programs to address patients' problems
  • treating patients to reduce pain, improve circulation, strengthen muscles, improve cardiothoracic, cardiovascular and respiratory functions, restore joint mobility, and improve balance and coordination
  • using the therapeutic properties of exercise, heat, cold, massage, manipulation, hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, ultraviolet and infra-red light and ultrasound in the treatment of patients
  • reviewing, continually monitoring, assessing and evaluating programs and treatments
  • consulting with other Health Professionals as required about patients' problems, needs and progress
  • instructing patients and their families in procedures to be continued at home
  • recording treatments given and patients' responses and progress
  • developing and implementing screening and preventative health promotion programs.

Qualifications needed

To practise as a physiotherapist, you will need:

  • a bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy
  • to be registered with the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand
  • a current practising certificate.

Cost of study

Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy)
$29,000 over four years


Average costs in 2018 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for fees-free
tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to Some polytechnics may have a zero-fees scheme. Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services:

Where to study

Physiotherapy courses are available at:

University of Auckland University of Technology (AUT):
University of Otago:


Practising physiotherapists need to be registered with the Physiotherapy Board, and have a current annual practising certificate. For more information, see the Board’s website.

New Zealand Physiotherapists Board:

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing a bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy has varied since 2011.

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


In 2019, the average salary of physiotherapists was estimated to be around $56,600.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

A physiotherapist’s income varies with their experience and level of responsibility. New physiotherapists earn about $46,000 a year. Fully qualified physiotherapists usually earn about $66,000 a year. With additional duties and responsibilities, physiotherapists can earn from $69,000 to $95,000 a year. Some physiotherapists own a physiotherapy practice and their income depends on the profitability of the practice.

Employment and skill shortages

Physiotherapists’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2015 2023 2028
2,499 3,150 3,600 3,860
  3.4% 2.2% 1.2%

Source: Physiotherapy Board New Zealand Annual Report 2014-2015 and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Health Therapy Professionals”.

The number of physiotherapists with annual practising certificates has grown steadily over the last several years, and is expected to continue, with 1.2 % annual growth projected out to 2028.

Practising physiotherapists

Source: Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
26% 27% 1% 65% $56,000

Source: Tertiary Education Commission
*Two years after completion of Bachelor Degree - Rehabilitation Therapies (Physiotherapy).

Three years after completing a bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy, a majority of graduates were in employment. A relatively high proportion were overseas or in further study. The median salary was around $56,000 three years after qualification completion.

Demand for physiotherapists is greater than the current supply. Physiotherapists appear on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list. If a job appears on the list, it means the government is actively encouraging skilled people in these jobs to come and work in New Zealand. A full list is available on the Immigration New Zealand website.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

The number of online job vacancies for physiotherapists has increased strongly over the last few years. In June 2019, the number of ads was around 50 per cent higher than in June 2013/

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Physiotherapist vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs, Seek, and Kiwi Health Jobs websites.

Trade Me Jobs:
Kiwi Health Jobs:

Career path

Physiotherapists can do postgraduate training and go on to specialise in many different fields of physiotherapy. They can also move into teaching and research roles, management positions, or set up their own clinics.

Physiotherapists may specialise in a specific area of physiotherapy, such as:

  • working with children with disabilities
  • sports physiotherapy
  • acupuncture
  • working with people who are recovering from injuries
  • women's health
  • occupational health
  • neurorehabilitation (related to the brain and nervous system)
  • working with people with breathing difficulties.

Physiotherapists who meet particular criteria can apply to the Physiotherapy Board for registration as a Physiotherapy Specialist in a defined area of practice.

 Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level physiotherapists.

  • Acupuncturist
  • Chiropractor
  • Health and Safety Adviser
  • Massage Therapist
  • Physical Therapist

Other information


More information on physiotherapists is available on the Careers New Zealand website and through the "Just the Job" video.

Careers New Zealand:
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of physiotherapists has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

2525 – Physiotherapists