Becoming a physical therapist is at least a 7-year commitment beyond high school. Four years for an undergraduate degree and 3 years for graduate school.
Physical therapy careers require, first, a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field. Common fields of study for aspiring physical therapists include biology, chemistry, biomedical engineering, physics, and physiology but could be anything as long as you complete the coursework needed to get into the graduate program.
After completing your undergraduate degree, you must complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. This degree lasts for between 3 to 4 years, depending on the program you choose. Coursework for DPT students includes classes in anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation sciences, pathology, orthotics and prosthetics, and pharmacology. During the DPT degree, students may already choose which area they want to focus on, and take specialized classes in that field. For example, physical therapists may take specific classes in neurology, orthopedics, or pediatrics to advance their knowledge in that area and gain an edge when they apply to jobs that cover that specialty.
After completing a bachelor’s degree and a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, the next major step towards becoming a physical therapist is becoming licensed. While licensing requirements vary from state to state, the main hurdle to obtaining a license is passing the National Physical Therapy Examination, or NPTE. This exam tests knowledge of physical therapy, both theoretically and practically. In some states, people seeking a license also must undergo a criminal background check and additional exams.
Typically, physical therapists enter residency programs after completing their DPT degree. Residency programs usually last for between one and three years, and offer recent graduates the opportunity to work alongside experienced physical therapists and gain hands-on experience. Residency programs also offer the ability to specialize in a particular area of practice, such as pediatric, geriatric, or neurologic physical therapy.
After a residency program, physical therapists can either work for a small practice or work for a larger organization — such as a sports team, hospital, or university — that requires physical therapists on staff. After gaining experience in the field, physical therapists can apply to become a board-certified specialist by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS), which allows them to gain a special certification in areas including neurology, orthopedics, oncology, pediatrics, and other areas. After working for some time and obtaining a specialty, some physical therapists choose to open their own private practice.
I hope this helps! Good luck!!
Requirements may vary from institutions. Must of them ask for a Bachelor in Science degree. Requires a high GPA to apply to Physical Therapy School to earn a Doctoral degree.