Physical Therapist Education Requirements

Before physical therapists are permitted to practice, they first need to earn graduate degrees from programs which are academically accredited. Such programs lead to either a doctorate in physical therapy or a master’s degree – both of which usually require at least two to three years in order to be completed. To be admitted to a physical therapist education program, students have to earn a bachelor’s degree as well as complete specific science courses which are considered prerequisites. They also need to acquire observation or volunteer experience in physical therapy. Their scores in the Graduate Record Examination must also be submitted and students need to maintain satisfactory grade-point averages.

Education requirements

Students who are completing a physical therapist degree have to learn biomechanics, human anatomy, the management of neurological dysfunction and the pathology of the musculoskeletal system. They could also participate in hands-on clinical courses and internships all of which offer patient care training, assessment, screening and intervention.


Essentially, physical therapists evaluate, treat and diagnose patients who have disorders which limit their capacity to move or function through life  in a normal way. Such a career is best for those who possess interpersonal skills and an impulse to help people who have physical limitations.

PTs also assist in patient rehabilitation. Patients include accident victims, individuals who have disabling conditions such as arthritis, low-back pain, heart disease, arthritis, head injuries, fractures as well as cerebral palsy. PTs also assist in restoring function, improve a person’s mobility, provide pain relief and limit or prevent physical disabilities. They also help maintain and restore overall health and fitness.

PTs also draw up a plan to assist patients to be relieved from their pain or allow their bodily functions to be restored. PTs assist patients to enjoy their well-being and lifestyle. Take note that this profession could be taxing as you get to be responsible for the overall health of your patients.


Physical therapists need to be state-licensed. Though every state has its physical therapist education requirements, a lot of them require that one possess physical therapy education graduate degrees and pass the NPTE or the National Physical Therapy Examination. A few states have added requirements such as jurisprudence exams as well as continuing education requirements.

Though being board-certified is actually voluntary for graduates of physical therapy, having a clinical specialty certification could open up numerous opportunities for career growth.  The ABPTS or American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties provides physical therapists with board certification in eight areas of specialty including pulmonary, cardiovascular, geriatric and clinical electrophysiology. To be eligible, candidates must have completed a minimum of 2,000 clinical practical hours within their area of specialty. Candidates who pass a multiple-choice day-long exam are also given specialty certification. These certified specialists need to be re-certified after 10 years.

Continuing education

However, PTs could easily engage in continuing education in order to remain current on physical therapy advancements even if they do not require CE to retain those licenses. The American Physical Therapy Association sponsors live classes, national conferences and online lessons.

Undergraduate education

Prospective PTs have numerous options in areas at the undergraduate level. A student is free to enroll in a specific major which includes significant coursework in science such as physiology, anatomy, biology. Certain schools provide a pre-physical therapy major in their health departments.

Graduate PT education

Undergraduate and Graduate programs are available from a variety of physical therapy schools across the country

PTs require a graduate degree. Fortunately, doctorates in physical therapy are in great supply. Similarly available are master’s programs in physical therapy. Such programs have different requirements prior to be admitted. A few of these include minimum grade point average standards or test scores. A lot of programs also require prerequisite course requirements.

A doctorate in physical therapy trains students in specific procedures of treatment and diagnosis. Coursework provides topics in PT procedures and anatomy. These also include exercise and therapeutic applications.  A few programs also include assessment courses and integration thereby allowing students to apply what they learned via simulations. These programs also place students in clinical clerkships in certain healthcare facilities which are supervised by licensed physical therapists. Students could go through a practicum where they observe licensed PTs within a workplace setting. A few clerkships could be part-time while others offer advanced full-time clerkships.

Students might also take into consideration specific programs which are accredited by the CAPTE or Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education. Take note that this organization is actually recognized by the US Department of Education as well as the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.


PTs held approximately 185,000 jobs in the United States back in 2008. A few physical therapists have held at least two jobs or more. Most of them work in offices of health practitioners or on hospitals. PTs often work in hospitals as well as care centers which are air-conditioned and clean. The average working hours is 40 each week. Depending on your area of specialty, you might also practice in fitness centers or sports facilities.  Physical therapists also enjoy flexibility in their job options. You could even delve into research studies in your preferred university.


All in all, if you want to be a physical therapist take note that acquiring a Bachelor’s Degree is not enough. It is highly recommended that you also take a related program such as anatomy, biology and chemistry as these serve as a pre-physical therapy training alternative program. A usual Bachelor’s Degree lasts four years. It is therefore advisable to acquire a working experience in the physical therapy department at a medical facility. The instance you are eligible, you can then apply for a Master’s in Phsyical Therapy. Usually, it is a three-year course which prepares you to be knowledgeable so you could pass the NPTE. You will also be studying advance subjects such as neuroscience, pharmacology, physiology and pathology. It depends on the state you select to practice in, you might be required to sit for added jurisprudence tests prior to being awarded a legitimate physical therapist license. A level of success is very much possible based on the specific areas of study focused on. The remaining factors are very much influenced by your skill in communicating with people as well as your personal character.

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