Certified Physical Therapist Career and Certification

A licensed physical therapist helps alleviate the symptoms, limitations and progression of physical ailments caused by injury or illness. Read on to learn more about the career and its licensure requirements, and get details about the salary and employment 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 and may work in a rehabilitation, nursing or sports facility, or hospital. Before practicing, every physical therapist must take and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination for professional licensing.

Certification National Physical Therapy Examination
Careers Best opportunities exist in orthopedic facilities, acute-care hospitals and skilled-nursing facilities
Median Pay* $86,850 (2017)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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.

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.

The National Physical Therapy Exam tests competencies and skills that physical therapists need to know, including:

  • Evaluation and examination
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Prevention
  • Consultation
  • Physical therapy theory

What Are My Employment Prospects?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for physical therapists are expected to increase 28% from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than average. Growth in this field is likely due to an aging population in need of rehabilitation services and the support needed to treat the mobility issues in people with chronic conditions such as diabetes or obesity. The median annual salary for physical therapists listed as of May 2017 was $86,850.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Keiser University

    Keiser University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Keiser University:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Indiana Wesleyan University

    Indiana Wesleyan University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Indiana Wesleyan University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Cortiva Institute

    Cortiva Institute responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Cortiva Institute:

    • Certificates

    Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Arizona: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson
    • Colorado: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster
    • Connecticut: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport
    • Florida: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach
    • Illinois: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Joliet
    • Maryland: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Joliet, Linthicum
    • Nevada: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Joliet, Linthicum, Las Vegas
    • Pennsylvania: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Joliet, Linthicum, Las Vegas, King of Prussia
    • Texas: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Joliet, Linthicum, Las Vegas, King of Prussia, Arlington, Richardson
    • Utah: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Joliet, Linthicum, Las Vegas, King of Prussia, Arlington, Richardson, Orem, Salt Lake City
    • Washington: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Joliet, Linthicum, Las Vegas, King of Prussia, Arlington, Richardson, Orem, Salt Lake City, Federal Way, Seattle
  • Fortis College

    Fortis College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Fortis College:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Maryland: Towson
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