Physical TherapyWhen it comes to the happiest jobs, physical therapists are at the top of the list. Forbes magazine listed its top 10 happiest jobs and physical therapists came in at number three because of social interaction and helping people.

Karlie Lewis, PT, DPT, CCCE, received her doctor of physical therapy in 2008 from the UAB Department of Physical Therapy and agrees with the reasons for being happy in her job.

“I absolutely love my job because of the direct impact of people’s lives and function,” said Lewis, a staff therapist at HealthSouth Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital in Homewood.

Lewis treats six patients a day in the 100 bed hospital. Patients receive three hours a day of physical, occupational and speech therapy. As a neurological PT, she treats patients one on one to work to restore their function, especially walking, after traumatic events such as brain injuries, strokes and car accidents. She also helps those with progressive diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.

“I think we are happy because our jobs are challenging but very rewarding,” said Lewis. “I get to see the same patients everyday while they’re here. Seeing them progress and regain or newly acquire skills is fun.”

The median salary for a physical therapist is $80,000 depending on position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic location and practice setting, according to the American Physical Therapy Association.