How to Become a Physical Therapist

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If you want to become a physical therapist, there’s a lot of education or training you need to complete. In order to practice this profession, you need to earn a graduate degree in physical therapy. After that, you must obtain a state license by passing the licensure exam to become a physical therapist or PT.physical therapy

What Does A Physical Therapist Do?

A physical therapist applies rehabilitation and exercise techniques in order to treat injuries or deformities that restrict an individual’s ability to move. Aside from therapy sessions to reduce pain and increase mobility, a physical therapist prescribes healthy living practices and fitness regiments so that patients can sustain the effects of their therapy.

Degree Program

Degree programs in Physical Therapy education are offered in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. After finishing a bachelor’s degree which normally takes up to four years, you need to pass a state-administered licensure exam. After passing this test, you’ll have to meet additional requirements that the licensing board in your state may have, before you become a physical therapist by profession.

General Educational Requirements

Every program for Physical Therapy varies from one state to another. Each includes a particular curriculum that you must take for you to graduate. Majority of curriculums require you to first pass general education classes to help you prepare for the program in physical therapy. Examples of these classes are biology, psychology, chemistry, physics, English, statistics, humanities, and professional writing.

Once you’re accepted into a Physical Therapy program, your courses will focus more on the PT practice including fundamental and clinical courses in medical science. You coursework will highlight both theories and practice of the profession. Aside from classroom learning, the PT program also requires one to apply their knowledge through hands-on clinical experience in a variety of physical therapy settings.

Physical Therapist License

A PT graduate should have a license in the state where they practice to become a physical therapist. Although the exact requirements for licensure vary depending on the state, the majority require a candidate to hold a graduate degree from an accredited program in physical therapy. In every state and U.S. territory, a candidate needs to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam which is regulated by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.  The purpose of the examination is for the candidate to show competency in both theory and practice. Several states require a professional to earn credits in continuing education every time they renew his or her license.

Becoming a Specialist

Another career option for a physical therapist is to become a specialist in physical therapy. This can be achieved by getting a certification thru the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties or ABPTS. There are eight different titles for specialists. Common specializations include neurology, geriatrics, orthopedics, and sports.

Income Potential

After completing your educational requirements and passing the licensure exam, you can now start to work as a physical therapist. A PT’s average annual wage is about $75,000. The ones that belong in the bottom 10% earn approximately $50,000 whereas those belonging in the top 10% earn more than $100,000.

If you opt to work in the home health care service as a physical therapist, you may expect to earn more than working in a physician’s office or office of a health care practitioner. This information should be considered in order to determine whether if you really want to become a physical therapist or not.