Physical Therapist Career Path
Steps to become a physical therapist include:
- Apply to undergraduate school. Choose a major that relates to physical therapy such as exercise science, exercise physiology, kinesiology, or even biology.
- After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, apply to a graduate level physical therapy program.
- Upon graduating with a master’s in physical therapy or a DPT, apply and test for state licensure.
- Maintain necessary continuing education units.
- Look for a job working in the field as a physical therapist.
The steps to become a physical therapist are mainly the same in every state. First a person must enroll in an undergraduate degree program. Choosing majors in fields that are related to physical therapy are very helpful, although there are not a lot of undergraduate programs specifically for physical therapy. Majors such as exercise science, exercise physiology, kinesiology, or even biology would be excellent choices. Maintaining good grades in college is important because there are oftentimes waiting lists to be accepted into a physical therapy program. Only top notch students are accepted most of the time.
Upon graduating from an undergraduate program, individuals must apply to a master’s in physical therapy or DPT (doctor of physical therapy) program. The trend seems to be shifting toward needing a DPT for entry into the field but currently those with a master’s degree can practice. Master’s programs are generally two years whereas doctoral programs are three. Both master’s and DPT programs include clinical rotation components so physical therapy students are able to gain real-world experience in a variety of settings. After graduating from a graduate-level physical therapy program, individuals must sit for the licensure exam in the state they reside. These exams include objective, multiple-choice questions but sometimes also include a practical component. After becoming licensed, physical therapists must maintain a certain number of continuing education credits that their state deems appropriate.