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Hydrotherapy Training and Careers

Learn About Hydrotherapy Training and Hydrotherapy Schools

client receiving hydrotherapy
client receiving hydrotherapy

Everyone knows that drinking enough water is an important part of good health, but the therapeutic practice of hydrotherapy goes even farther, encompassing all the various ways that water can be used internally and externally to maintain health, manage stress and treat injuries.

Hydrotherapy includes more conventional therapies like hot or cold compresses, steam baths, and humidifiers as well as complementary treatments like sinus rinses or colonic therapy.

Hydrotherapy is a modality that has been used by many cultures throughout history, but even contemporary practitioners are seeing the benefits of hydrotherapy training.

Read on to learn more about this buoyant profession and why it is used to treat and prevent a number of medical conditions, making it a more popular career choice than ever before!

Career Overview

In a clinical setting, hydrotherapy may consist of water taken internally, via drinking, douches, or enemas; or it can involve the external administration of water to an affected area of the body, through ice packs, compresses, wraps, streams of water, or even inhaled water vapor.

Immersion—bathing or swimming—is also a popular form of hydrotherapy. Many spa workers specialize in aromatherapy or herbal medicine administered within a hot or cold bath.

Hydrotherapy training is used by naturopathic doctors, massage therapistsestheticians and spa workers, but you’ll often find hydrotherapy career options at physical therapy clinics and burn centers, too.

Training and Education

What You’ll Study in Hydrotherapy School

Hydrotherapy school curriculum addresses topics such as the following:

  • History and principles of hydrotherapy
  • Techniques such as dry brushing and wraps
  • Equipment used in hydrotherapy
  • Use of water in various forms and temperatures
  • Physiological effects and medical contraindications

Average Length of Study

Individual workshop courses in basic hydrotherapy may take as few as 15 hours. Some approaches may require longer study—basic colonic hydrotherapy training takes 100 hours or more.

Hydrotherapy Certification

For the most part, practitioners of hydrotherapy are licensed or certified under the umbrella of a vocation such as naturopathy, massage therapy or physical therapy. In these cases, a hydrotherapist would need to follow state law with respect to licensing in their field.

Some forms of hydrotherapy training, such as colonic therapy and aquatic therapy, may lead to a specialty certification. The Aquatic Therapy & Rehab Institute (ATRI), for instance, grants Aquatic Therapeutic Exercise Certification to professionals who complete 15 hours of education in the area and pass an exam.

Career Outlook

One major reason Americans go to spas is for relaxation and stress relief, and hydrotherapy treatments such as saunas, whirlpools and mineral baths provide such relief.

A recent study reported that 55% of American spas offer hydrotherapy options, and that translates into career opportunities for spa workers with hydrotherapy training. Fitness and health clinics also offer employment options for physical therapists who practice aquatic therapy.

Hydrotherapy Salary

You can research physical therapist salaries by state here:

Physical Therapists

National data

Median Salary: $95,620

Projected job growth: 20.5%

10th Percentile: $61,930

25th Percentile: $77,750

75th Percentile: $101,920

90th Percentile: $127,110

Projected job growth: 20.5%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $99,810 $38,960 $128,450
Alabama $95,450 $59,810 $130,000
Arkansas $93,560 $59,640 $126,600
Arizona $95,590 $72,500 $127,740
California $101,180 $50,230 $135,570
Colorado $93,100 $60,960 $125,670
Connecticut $100,070 $76,660 $129,210
District of Columbia $95,870 $75,710 $127,370
Delaware $97,630 $75,710 $129,450
Florida $95,450 $61,750 $120,750
Georgia $95,590 $71,410 $124,450
Hawaii $95,110 $37,190 $127,160
Iowa $78,930 $60,750 $103,170
Idaho $80,340 $61,990 $102,060
Illinois $97,690 $65,380 $122,370
Indiana $95,390 $62,830 $120,500
Kansas $88,570 $61,080 $120,650
Kentucky $81,850 $59,840 $116,790
Louisiana $95,590 $63,630 $129,270
Massachusetts $96,410 $61,200 $123,620
Maryland $94,960 $62,760 $120,260
Maine $79,170 $61,990 $102,060
Michigan $79,870 $56,680 $102,060
Minnesota $80,130 $72,880 $101,510
Missouri $79,050 $59,830 $108,340
Mississippi $95,770 $73,870 $129,270
Montana $78,950 $61,210 $102,060
North Carolina $79,240 $60,900 $106,980
North Dakota $78,270 $61,350 $100,620
Nebraska $80,990 $61,740 $120,500
New Hampshire $83,700 $61,740 $102,370
New Jersey $99,730 $76,980 $128,330
New Mexico $95,590 $75,220 $130,430
Nevada $99,360 $60,800 $152,420
New York $95,620 $62,270 $121,140
Ohio $95,620 $66,460 $124,380
Oklahoma $79,220 $60,720 $126,210
Oregon $95,040 $73,600 $120,750
Pennsylvania $95,890 $68,430 $121,230
Rhode Island $95,930 $61,990 $121,140
South Carolina $79,830 $49,870 $104,390
South Dakota $78,040 $61,570 $100,920
Tennessee $95,370 $61,990 $106,040
Texas $99,040 $62,240 $136,870
Utah $81,190 $55,660 $127,740
Virginia $94,260 $62,000 $121,780
Vermont $78,320 $61,250 $102,060
Washington $99,330 $76,090 $126,940
Wisconsin $95,480 $61,790 $120,260
West Virginia $96,970 $68,930 $121,200
Wyoming $79,630 $75,320 $126,780

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2030. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

It might interest you to know that specialized knowledge such as hydrotherapy training can make you more marketable and add to your salary—a practitioner might earn as much as $75 to $120 per hour for a single session.

Is a Hydrotherapy Career Right for You?

Imagine how rewarding it is to be able to administer a hydrotherapy treatment such as a hot mineral bath and be able to immediately see your client’s muscles relax, or watch an injured athlete steadily recover from an injury thanks to aquatic exercise.

Whether your focus is spa work, health care, physical therapy or naturopathy, hydrotherapy training can be a valuable modality to add to your professional repertoire.

Sources: Aquatic Therapy and Research Institute, Inc., American Cancer Society, International Spa Association