Certified Physical Therapist Career and Certification
As a licensed physical therapist you would help alleviate the symptoms, limitations and progression of physical ailments caused by injury or illness. Read on to learn more about the career and licensure requirements. Get details about the career outlook for this job. Schools offering Physical Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What You Need to Know?
As a physical therapist, you will examine and treat patients suffering from injuries or illnesses that affect their body's ability to function normally. You will also develop programs to avoid future disabilities, reduce pain, and improve your patients' overall quality of life. You may work in a rehabilitation, nursing or sports facility, or hospital.
|Degrees||Undergraduate degree plus a Master's Degree in Physical Therapy or Doctor of Physical Therapy|
|Certification||National Physical Therapy Examination|
|Salary (2014)||$82,390 (median annual wage for all registered physical therapists)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, Boston University
What Degree Do I Need?
To become a licensed physical therapist, you need at least a master's degree from a school accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Physical Therapy Education. The American Physical Therapy Association, however, recently encouraged all physical therapists to have a doctoral degree, which may provide you with better employment opportunities.
The most common graduate degrees are a Master of Physical Therapy and Doctor of Physical Therapy. A master's degree commonly requires two years of study, while a doctoral degree commonly requires three years. Some programs combine master's and doctoral studies into a single program. All programs, even joint ones, include clinical internships and prepare you to sit for the exam required for licensure.
Most programs require in-person attendance, but some transitional doctoral programs are offered online. Transitional programs are designed for practicing physical therapists with a master's degree. Hybrid doctoral programs that combine online and in-person work are also offered.
There is no specific undergraduate degree required for entry into a graduate physical therapy program. Several schools recommend that undergraduate students complete a bachelor's degree program that includes instruction in physiology, psychology, anatomy, the biological sciences, and math. A program in biology, athletic training, and rehabilitation science may satisfy these prerequisites.
What Certification Will I Need?
Every state requires physical therapists to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination prior to beginning practicing in the field. This exam is provided by the State Boards of Physical Therapy and is not available online. Once licensed, you may have to complete continuing education courses to maintain your license, depending on state regulations.
What Are My Employment Prospects?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for physical therapists are expected to increase 36% from 2012 to 2022. The median annual salary for physical therapists listed as of May 2014 was $82,390.
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