How to Become a Physical Therapist

People recovering from an injury or illness rely on physical therapists to assist them in relieving pain, regaining strength and mobility, and achieving overall rehabilitation. Physical therapists also play a key role in helping people manage chronic physical conditions, treat injuries and overcome disabilities, which creates a high demand for these professionals who use exercise and movement to improve the lives of patients every day.

What does a physical therapist do?

Physical therapists (also called PTs) work in hospitals, outpatient care facilities, schools, clinics and private practices. Using exercise, movement and specialized machines, physical therapists work with people who are recovering from an illness or injury, have disabilities, or suffer from chronic physical conditions that cause pain and limit mobility.

Physical therapists assess a patient’s level of physical disability, then determine a treatment plan for improving mobility, strength, coordination, range of motion, posture or other aspects of physical health and movement. Using exercises, movements and therapeutic treatments such as massage, ultrasound or electrical stimulation, physical therapists work with patients to decrease pain and improve flexibility and muscle function. Many physical therapists hold more than one job, sometimes working in either a hospital or clinic while also having their own private practice.

What kind of training does a physical therapist need?

Prospective physical therapists will need to complete a master degree in physical therapy program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education and pass state and national physical therapy certification exams to gain physical therapy licensure for the state in which they practice. Many states also require that physical therapists complete continuing education credits to maintain their license to practice.

Undergraduate students and physical therapy assistants interested in pursuing a career as a physical therapist should complete a bachelor degree in a related field and take anatomy, physics, biology, chemistry and mathematics courses as preparation for a master-level physical therapy degree program. Graduate-level physical therapy courses will include biomechanics, neuroanatomy, human growth and development, and additional advanced science courses. Click here to get a list of online physical therapist degree programs.

What are the prospects for a career as a physical therapist?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for physical therapist jobs are expected to increase 27% between 2006 and 2016. This is significantly higher growth than other industries and is in part due to the increase of members of the aging baby boomer population, as well as advancements in medical technology that will increase the survival rate for trauma victims, newborns with birth defects, and people with previously untreatable conditions. (1) Click here to find out how to become a physical therapist.

How much do physical therapists make?

Average physical therapist salary varies based on geographical location, experience and the type of practice pursued. The median base salary for physical therapists across the Unites States is $65,000 to $75,000. (2)

Physical therapy career is a rewarding occupation allowing practitioners to help improve patients’ lives. A physical therapist career is a great choice for anyone with the desire to work directly with patients to make them feel better and improve their ability to function in their daily lives. Click here for a list of programs to get your physical therapist degree online.

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