Becoming a physical therapist is challenging, yet highly rewarding career choice. You will have the chance to positively impact the psychological and physiological well-being of others.

Becoming a Physical Therapist

Physical therapists are a unique class of individuals that are highly educated in assisting patients in the area of reducing pain, improving and restoring mobility, and reducing the need for expensive and often addictive medications.

Becoming a physical therapist takes a special type of person.

Managing a condition or injury with a goal of long term health benefits requires some education.  Caring enough about people to help them work through pain might sound easy. Getting people to stick to a plan, especially when it might be uncomfortable might take some motivational skills and a whole lot of heart.

If you have a desire to help others, have a passion for health, and a zest for life, physical therapy might be a good career for you!

Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.”Carol Welch

The Role of a Physical Therapist is to plan a rehabilitative course

What do Physical Therapists Do?

The long-term health and happiness of each patient is at the core of what physical therapists do and hope to achieve. Each patient that a therapist works with is fully examined.

A plan is then created that involves the use of treatment techniques that are designed to optimize mobility, improve general functionality, reduce pain and discomfort, and prevent the onset of disability.

Physical therapists aim to prevent any loss of mobility by encouraging and developing a fitness program that will promote wellness, optimal health, and highly active lifestyles.

Physical Therapists work in a center

Where Do Physical Therapists Work?

When striving to become a physical therapist, you will discover that there are many places that you may work. Most attempt to work for a private practice; however, many end up branching out to other areas.

These include – but, are not at all limited to – facilities designed for sports and fitness, schools, agencies that specialize in home health care, clinics that treat patients on an outpatient basis, work environments, assisted living facilities, drug rehabilitation centers, stroke recovery clinics, and nursing homes.

Physical Therapist Requirements

When becoming a physical therapist, you will discover that there are many educational requirements. First, you must obtain a Doctorate Degree in the area of Physical Therapy (DPT). In most instances, this degree takes a total of three years to obtain. The classroom environment will consist of the following lessons:

  • Patient Examination
  • Patient Evaluation
  • Orthotics
  • Prosthetics
  • Medical Screening
  • Diagnostics

Prior to starting the above, a bachelor’s degree is required. The coursework for this degree includes biology, classes in psychology, chemistry, the study pf physics, anatomy of the human body, and, of course, physiology.

Once the bachelor’s degree and the doctorate degree are pursued, those that want to become a physical therapist will get to perform work in a clinical setting. This helps in developing interpersonal skills, becoming familiar with the various types of patient interactions, and getting experience in various types of physical therapy, such as those designed for kids, those with disabilities, those with neurocognitive and neurological-based physical complications, and senior physical therapy.

Physical Therapy Certification

Once you have graduated from school, it is time to get your certification. This will be obtained through the state where you would like to work in the field.

In order to earn your certificate, you should know something about licensing requirements in your state. You will, eventually, be required to take the examination known as the “National Physical Therapy Examinations”.

Upon passing this exam, your state will then require passing a test that covers the laws of the career. You will also be required to pass a background check.

Each year, you will likely be required to take continuing education courses, too.

graduating college for physical therapy

How Long Does It Take to Become a Physical Therapist?

Undergraduate studies for becoming a physical therapist will typically take about three years. Immediately following this, you will need to dedicate a total of three years for the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program.

All in all, you can expect to spend – at least – seven years in college. If you have a desire to specialize in certain types or areas of the career, you may end up spending longer in the educational environment.

Steps to Becoming a Physical Therapist

There are several distinct steps to becoming a physical therapist. Up until this point, you have – basically – been presented with these steps. Now, we will provide you with a brief step-by-step summary that you will be required to complete to succeed in your educational endeavor:

  1. The first step to becoming a physical therapist is to earn a bachelor’s degree. This may be in any type of health-related field. You should ensure that the coursework that you engage in involves classes in anatomy, physiology, physics, chemistry, and biology.
  2. Next, you will need to complete the doctorate of physical therapy program. To date, you may choose from over 200 different accredited schools. While in this program, you will be introduced to a wide range of topics. These include life span classes, pharmacology courses, applied physical therapy, complex types of health conditions, and those that are similar in nature.
  3. Next, identify the licensing requirements of your state and complete them. These include the NPTE test, law test, and the background check.
  4. The next step to becoming a physical therapist is to complete a residency program that will allow you to get trained and obtain experience in various areas of patient care. This program will typically last about one year.
  5. Now, focus on getting your board certification. All you have to do is perform about 2,000 hours of clinical work and pass a test.


While becoming a physical therapist takes time, commitment, and a great deal of study, it is a highly rewarding profession that provides numerous health benefits to patients on a daily basis. Our network is designed to assist those pursuing a career in the industry, and to help those that are already established.

We offer many resources, tools, and a vast array of information that is sure to help you as you advance into this highly profitable and engaging career.

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