This sounds like a lot of time, and it is, but it is SO worth it!
First, you'll need a bachelor's degree, and this is often in a related field like biology or kinesiology (though it doesn't have to be). You just have to make sure you fulfill prerequisite coursework in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, and physics. Subsequently, apply and enroll in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). These intensive three-year programs blend classroom instruction with hands-on clinical rotations, covering topics ranging from biomechanics to patient care.
During your DPT program, you'll engage in essential clinical experiences, allowing you to gain practical skills and exposure to real patient care settings under the guidance of licensed physical therapists. After graduation, you have to secure state licensure, a process that typically involves passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). Some states may impose additional state-specific requirements. Ongoing professional development is crucial, including pursuing optional specializations and fulfilling continuing education requirements for license renewal. With their DPT degree and licensure, you'll start your career as physical therapist, working in diverse healthcare settings to help patients improve their mobility, manage pain, and enhance their quality of life.