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UK or Australia: which country is best for physiotherapy jobs?

07th May, 2019

UK or Australia: which country is best for physiotherapy jobs?

Each year, Your World works with a variety of healthcare professionals from all around the world. If you’re keen to take your career up a notch, you too might have considered working abroad. Australia has always been popular for British expats and so has the UK for Australian medical professionals. But which country is best for physiotherapy jobs? 

From training and landing your first physiotherapy role to progressing and specialising, we’re going to compare the UK and Australia so that you can decide which place is right for you.

How to become a physiotherapist in the UK 

To practice as a registered physiotherapist in the UK, you must have an undergraduate degree in Physiotherapy. This course is extremely competitive and typically requires work experience and qualifications in either biology or physical education and mathematics. There’s also an option for people who have a relevant BSc degree to take a two-year accelerated MSc course.

Your degree will involve lectures, workshops, private studies and a range of placements, for example in a hospital or community setting. 

Once you're a qualified physiotherapist, you will need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

What is the process of getting a physiotherapy job in Australia?

Studying to become a physiotherapist in Australia is very similar to the UK. It also calls for a bachelor degree or completion of a two-year Master of Physiotherapy program for those who studied another science. In addition, twenty hours of Continued Professional Development (CPD) is required each year.

Just as UK Physiotherapists must register with the HCPC to legally practice, you need to register with an Australian governing body. In this instance, it's the Physiotherapy Board of Australia. 

Career progression for physiotherapists in the UK compared with Australia

The NHS has a structure (Bands) providing a route for Physiotherapists to follow and progress. Additionally, there are options to work in a variety of settings, e.g. acute, clinical or within a community physiotherapy team. Physical therapists can specialise in areas like musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapy, train to become advanced practitioners (providing additional treatments) or enter management.

In Australia, there are opportunities within clinics, aged care facilities, operating theatres and more. Those who earn the most will typically specialise.

How much do physiotherapists make as an annual salary?

We previously mentioned the NHS’ banding system; pay works in correlation to this. Newly qualified / Band 5 Physiotherapists working a typical 37.5 hour week earn between £23,023 and £29,608, depending on the location of the NHS trust. At the other end of the scale, management roles such as head of service (Band 6c) can make over £60,000. Senior Physiotherapists, specialists and clinical leads fall somewhere in between this gap. 

Things work differently in Australia as there isn’t a set scale. The average salary for a full-time entry-level physiotherapy position is around $61,641 per year (roughly £33,476.89) and $82,000 (£44,550.60) for a highly experienced professional, although these wages can differ depending on specialism. Aged Care Physiotherapists, for example, often have some of the highest earnings.

Life in the UK vs life in Australia

What is your favourite hobby outside of work? If you enjoy history, culture and living a more fast-paced lifestyle, perhaps the UK is the place for you. If you’re a sun worshipper, adventurer or prefer a more laidback culture, you’re probably going to prefer Australia.

Which country is the best to work as a physiotherapist?

Although courses in the UK can be competitive, physiotherapy jobs are abundant within the public and private sector (see physiotherapy vacancies at Your World). Often the reason Australians come to the UK is to access more opportunities and skills to take back home. This isn’t to say that Australia doesn’t have brilliant opportunities of its own, but it can just be more challenging getting a foot in the door and gaining a wider range of skills.

Australia is very appealing because of its glorious weather, beaches and outdoor lifestyle. Attributes like these can improve your quality of life no end - maybe you'll even discover a new hobby! Physiotherapy is on the Australian Skilled Occupation List (SOL), so obtaining a work visa is almost guaranteed.

If you think Australia is the place for you, our Australian site has some fantastic resources that might help with your decision, because the next choice you have is where?

City, Coast or Remote- Where Should You Be?

Is Rural and Remote Work for Me?

Comparing Healthcare: The UK vs. Australia

For those doing the reverse, see what to expect when moving to the UK. You can also speak with our International Team who are experts at helping healthcare professionals come to UK.