Ireland: a profile of the profession

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The data has been provided by Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists and to the extent possible are a true reflection of the situation in the country, however not all figures are authoritative and should be interpreted accordingly. For questions or feedback please contact

Reference year: 2019

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Professional name
Official names:
  • Chartered Physiotherapist  (Not protected by law)
  • Iris Chumann Fhisiteiripigh Chairte na hEireann  (Not protected by law)
  • Physiotherapist  (Protected by law)
Number of physical therapist members:
Entry level student organisation:
Yes, represented by the WCPT member organisation
Practicing physical therapists
Number of practicing physical therapists:
4,900    (Estimated)
Not available
Support personnel part of workforce:
CPD Events:
*1  Members can access centrally organised courses via the ISCP home page (Prof Dev tab)
Special interest groups recognised by Ireland
Recognised special interest groups:
  • Acupuncture
  • Animal practice
  • Cardiorespiratory physical therapy
  • Intellectual disability
  • Management/administration (includes leadership, medico-legal, professional standards and best practice)
  • Mental health
  • Neurology
  • Orthopaedics/manual therapy
  • Occupational health and ergonomics
  • Older people
  • Oncology/palliative care
  • Pain (includes pain management, pain research)
  • Paediatrics
  • Private practitioners
  • Sports physical therapy
  • Womens health
Physical therapist professional entry level education
Number of programmes:
Finishing education level (minimum):
Bachelors degree
Equivalent fulltime years:
Entry level programmes
  • Bachelors degree
  • Masters degree
Note: qualification levels are consistent with ISCED 2011 levels
Post professional degree programmes
Post professional programmes
  • Post graduate certificate
  • Masters degree
  • PhD
Physical therapist specialisation recognised by Ireland
Recognised specialisation:
  • Animal practice
  • Orthopaedics/manual therapy
  • Sports physical therapy
  • Womens health
Scope of practice defined by:
One or more independent regulation/licensing/registration authorities
Standards of practice:
Yes, more than one
Education for autonomous practice:
Legislation to prevent private practice:
Physical Therapists are permitted to:
  • Act as first contact/autonomous practitioners
  • Assess patients/clients
  • Make a diagnosis
  • Treat (interventions, advice and evaluation of outcome)
  • Refer to other specialists/services
  • Offer preventative advice/services
Direct access* permitted:
Can people self refer to physical therapists in private practice:
Will this be reimbursed:
In part
Can people self refer to physical therapists in the public system:
* Direct access - a person can refer themselves to a physical therapist without referral from another health professional
Registration required to practice:
CPD* required for re-registration:
CPD* required for membership:
The system of regulation in the country:
From October 1st 2018 all physiotherapists must either be on the new state register or have applied for inclusion on it ( ). The ISCP is a national, professional body, respected and recognised both within and outside the profession, as the voice of Physiotherapy in Ireland. The Society advocates for the provision of a person-centred quality service that is accessible, effective, and humanitarian while advancing health and social gain. We support our members in delivering the highest standards of professional care. The Society is the sole Member Organisation representing Ireland on the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT).
* CPD - Continuing Professional Development

Other available reference years: 2017  2018