Why To Be A Physical Therapist

What Do Physical Therapists Do
Physical therapists help patients recover from and manage any immobility, pain or disability that may have risen from injuries, surgeries or diseases. In order to become a physical therapist one needs to gain the necessary science-based knowledge and skills, including biomechanics, neuroscience, exercise physiology, and anatomy. In order to do so, students have to enroll in a physical therapist professional education program.

Physical Therapy Degrees
Professional (entry-level) physical therapist degree education programs are offered at two levels:

  • Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) or Master of Science in Physical Therapy (MSPT) Degree
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree

In order to practice as a physical therapist in the US, you must complete one of these degrees. Make sure that you gain your degree from a CAPTE-accredited physical therapist education program and pass a state licensure exam. A degree from such an institution is necessary to get your license.

Professional DPT programs usually takes three years to complete. The curriculum covers many areas, including natural sciences such biology, physiology and biomechanics and advanced courses in biomechanics etc. Apart from this, curriculum may include courses in  humanities and social sciences such as ethics, pathology and sociology etc. Students may also have to take courses in clinical experience. Note that this is a sample list and different programs will include different course selections. You should therefore research and find a program that is suitable for you.

Most physical therapist education programs require applicants to earn a bachelor's degree prior to admission into the professional DPT/MPT program. However, some programs offer a 3+3 curricular format. In this case, the students complete an undergraduate degree in the first three years and study advanced materials in the professional PT program, in the last three years.

Can Freshmen Enter Directly
A few programs admit students directly from high school into a guaranteed admissions program. High school students accepted into these programs may automatically advance into the professional phase of the PT program after they have completed the specific undergraduate courses. They may have to cover some other requirements such as maintaining a certain grade point average, etc. 

After the Degree
Once you have finished your degree, you will be required to gain your license to become a physical therapist. Each state may have different requirements, but most states require that prospective candidates pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). A simple online search may allow you to determine your state's requirements for physical therapy licenses.

The prospects for physical therapists are very good. It is estimated that the average pay of a physical therapist is $76,000 a year. The demand for physical therapists is expected to increase by 39% from 2010 to 2020, thus making it one of the 30 fastest-growing careers in the United States.


Q:How long does it take to become a physical therapist?

A:It can take you 8-9 years to become a physical therapist. Students usually need to earn a bachelors degree that may last for 3 to 4 years, followed by 3 years of Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree at the graduate level. This adds up to a total of 6 to 7 years of university-level education. The next step is completing a residency program for at least a year. However, some students may take a shorter or longer time period by opting for accelerated or self-paced courses.

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