Learning How To Become a Physical Therapist requires significant formal education. Learn about the education, job duties, and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you. A physical therapist (PT) assesses, diagnoses, and treats patients who have problems that impede their ability to move and function properly in everyday life.
People with good interpersonal skills and a willingness to assist others with their physical limitations may be a good fit for this vocation. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment possibilities for physical therapists could expand by 18% between 2019 and 2029. (BLS).
This is substantially higher than average job growth, owing in part to an ageing population’s need for rehabilitative services to manage the disease, injury, and surgery recovery. As a result, job opportunities should be best in locations that provide care for the elderly. Rural areas are likewise likely to have a high number of job openings. As of May 2019, the average yearly pay for physical therapists was $89,440.
Physical Therapy Degree and Overview
- Degree Level: Doctoral degree
- Degree Field(s): Physical therapy
- License/Certification: All states require licensure; specialty certification available; voluntary professional certification also available.
- Experience: Volunteer or observation experience required for program admission
- Key Skills: Science aptitude; ability to work and communicate with patients
- Job Outlook: (2019-2029): 18% growth
- Mean Annual Salary (2019): $89,440
Physical Therapist Education Requirements
What is the average time it takes to become a physical therapist? And what kind of education do you need to work as a physical therapist? Before you can begin working as a physical therapist, you must meet several educational and licensure addition, physical rig. Physical therapists must have a graduate degree from a recognized physical therapist school programme before they may practise.
These programmes usually require at least three years to complete and result in a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree. In addition, students must often receive a bachelor’s degree, complete science necessary courses, gain volunteer or observation experience in physical therapy, submit GRE scores, and maintain an acceptable grade-point average to be admitted to a physical therapy program.
Human anatomy, biomechanics, the musculoskeletal system, pathology, and neurological dysfunction management are among the topics included in physical therapy curricula. Clinical internships and hands-on clinical courses, which give training in patient care, screening, evaluation, treatment, and intervention, are additional options.
Many years of schooling are required to become a physical therapist. If you’re wondering how long it takes to become a physical therapist, the answer is about seven years of schooling. A bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete, while a DPT programme takes three. However, physical therapists can choose to do a 3+3 programme, which will allow them to complete their studies faster. These programmes allow students to begin working on their DPT in their final year of undergraduate study, allowing them to complete it in six years rather than seven.
Courses that you might take in a DPT program include:
- Human Anatomy
- Cellular Biology
- The Cardiovascular System
- Physical Disability Studies
Some prospective physical therapists may benefit from a clinical residency or fellowship during or after their undergraduate education. This can assist students in developing a more focused grasp of how to operate as a physical therapist and the various specializations available in the industry.
How to Choose a Program
Selecting the best DPT school for you is a crucial step on the road to becoming a physical therapist. There are various factors to consider while considering a DPT programme, an undergraduate programme, or a 3+3.
To begin, ensure that your degree is from an approved university or programme. Look for something accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Ensure the programme is for physical therapists and not for someone who works in a similar profession like a physical therapy assistant. Consider the program’s prerequisites and confirm that you meet them before applying. Consider if you’d prefer to be a full-time or part-time student. Some programmes may be partially online, which may benefit some people; however, verify any on-campus or in-person prerequisites.
Especially if you’re taking a hybrid or online course, finally, you should think about your financial status. University education can be expensive, especially if you attend an out-of-state or international college. So consider your options and your budget carefully, as well as any scholarships or financial aid that you may be eligible for to assist you in attending university.
Their respective states must licence all physical therapists. While each state has its own standards for physical therapists, most of them require candidates to obtain a master’s degree in physical therapy from an authorized programme and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. Additional criteria, such as jurisprudence examinations, are imposed by some states. In some states, maintaining licencing also necessitates continuing education.
A new physical therapist can choose to complete a residency after earning a licence. In this situation, the beginner physical therapist can operate under the supervision of a certified physical therapist with greater expertise.
Although physical therapists are not required to be board-certified, obtaining certification in a clinical specialty may provide prospects for growth. The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) certifies physical therapists in nine disciplines, including cardiovascular and pulmonary medicine, clinical electrophysiology, and geriatrics.
Candidates must be licenced and have completed at least 2,000 clinical practice hours in their specialized area to be eligible for certification. Specialty certification is awarded to eligible individuals who pass an exam. After ten years, credentialed specialists must recertify.
PTs can enrol in continuing education to stay current on the newest innovations in physical therapy, in addition to pursuing specialty certification as a way to enhance their careers. National conferences, live workshops, and online lessons for practising physical therapists are sponsored by professional organizations such as the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Some physical therapists create their own offices, while others choose to do research or educate.
A physical therapist must get a graduate degree, usually a Ph.D., as well as state certification. Certification and ongoing education are optional, but they may lead to more advanced changes in the area.