What Type of Training Do I Need for a Physical Therapy Career?

Physical therapists and their assistants help injured or disabled people optimize their physical function. This article explains the training needed for a career in physical therapy. Schools offering Physical Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

To find work as a physical therapist, job candidates must hold a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited physical therapy program and obtain a state license. Physical therapist assistants typically hold an associate's degree and sometimes need a state license in order to practice.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Physical TherapistsPhysical Therapist Assistants
Median Salary (2014)$82,390$54,410
Job Outlook (2014-2024)36% growth in employment (much faster than average)41% growth (much faster than average)
Work Schedules and EnvironmentMost work full time, 25% worked part time in 2012; Some may be required to work evenings or weekends; Often required to lift patientsMost work full time; May work evenings and weekends; Often required to lift patients
Similar OccupationsChiropractors, Occupational Therapists, Speech-Language PathologistsDental Assistants, Medical Assistants, Occupational Therapy Assistants, Pharmacy Technicians

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists must have at least a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from an accredited physical therapy program. A doctorate program in physical therapy generally takes three years to complete, in addition to the four years needed to earn a bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree is usually sufficient to qualify for a DPT degree program. Programs typically include courses on anatomy and physiology, therapeutic exercise, musculoskeletal problems, pharmacology, and geriatric problems.

Physical Therapist Assistant

Physical therapist assistants perform physical therapy techniques as directed by the physical therapist for whom they work. Physical therapist assistants need a minimum of an associate's degree from an accredited program.

Licensing

Physical Therapist

Each state has licensure requirements that physical therapists must meet before being eligible to work. The criteria for a physical therapy license vary by state but usually include holding a postgraduate degree and passing a written test. Most states require that physical therapists retake the test every few years to make sure their training stays current.

Physical Therapist Assistant

All states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed which requires completion of an accredited program and passing a written exam. Similar to physical therapists, assistants must also retake the licensing exam every so often to renew their license. Some states also have additional requirements.

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

  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Master

    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

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Fortis College

    Fortis College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Fortis College:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Maryland: Towson
  • College of Health Care Professions

    College of Health Care Professions responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at College of Health Care Professions:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Dallas, Fort Worth
  • 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, Tucson
    • Colorado: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster
    • Connecticut: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport
    • Florida: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach
    • Illinois: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Joliet
    • Maryland: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Joliet, Linthicum
    • Nevada: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Joliet, Linthicum, Las Vegas
    • Pennsylvania: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Joliet, Linthicum, Las Vegas, King of Prussia
    • Texas: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, Aurora, Westminster, Newington, Westport, Maitland, Pinellas Park, Pompano Beach, Joliet, Linthicum, Las Vegas, King of Prussia, Arlington, Richardson
    • Utah: Phoenix, Scottsdale, 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, 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
  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northcentral 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

  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

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