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What degree do I need to become I physical therapist, and hopefully to own my own practice?

I would like to work with sports teams or at another person’s practice, and then open up my own practice once I get the funds and experience necessary to do so! Also how can I build connections that will help me achieve my goals with this? What majors/minors should I look at/choose? And, do you all have any other helpful tips?

Thank you comment icon The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is a great place to start searching about career basics. It sounds like you are already interested in sports. Have you tried researching who does physical therapy for a team you follow? From there you can find articles about that person, and maybe learn the path they took. Sara Porras

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Susan’s Answer

Physical Therapist is a doctoral level entry profession. This means that before you can apply to PT school you will need a bachelors degrees in one of three possible domains: biology, kinesiology, or exercise science with a GPA of 3.5 or better. Most PT schools require your program to include 1 year each of the "Big Three" sciences: Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Additionally, you will need a full year of Anatomy and Physiology, and Math up to the level of Trigonometry to be a solid candidate. It is also a good idea to have electives that include psychology. Some programs require a course in medical terminology but some don't. PT schools are looking for candidates whose degree demonstrate that they have solid math and science knowledge, writing proficiency, and good verbal communication skills. In addition, they want to see candidates that have already demonstrated a committment to the profession through volunteer hours and/or work within the field as a tech or an aide. This list is certainly daunting and it is true that not all schools require all of these things but in order to cover all your bases and make your application stand out I'd just plan to do it all. Remember that a Bachelor's Degree in the above areas can take up to 5 yrs with PT school being 2.5 to 3 yrs. That means that you may be in school for up to 6-8 yrs to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy. In addition to the time and effort, it is a significant financial committement. I would recommend that anyone interested in the field find a local clinician that would be willing to allow you to shadow them so you can see the profession first hand.
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Jason’s Answer

Physical therapy requires a doctorate of physical therapy in order to receive a license. Youll take 4 years of undergrad. And 3 additional years of physical therapy school. As an undergrad degree (my wife is a PT) it’s advisable to get a degree in nursing as this will allow you a nursing license to practice in a hospital in some capacity. And then go on to physical therapy school. This would allow you to be both a nurse and a physical therapist. As well as enable you to work part time as a nurse in physical therapy school if you choose.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Savannah
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Beth’s Answer

Hi Savannah,
Being a physical therapist with your own practice is a big goal! Susan’s answer was spot-on. I’ll just add to it.
Physical therapy is a graduate level entry degree. Each school has slightly different prerequisites. Go to APTA.org to explore therapy programs you would like to attend, then access their program prerequisites to help you plan your undergraduate program.
Most PT’s major in exercise science or kinesiology but you can major in business or dance or anything as long as you do your sciences too.
Getting into grad school is very competitive ( frequently only 1/10 get accepted) You need excellent grades, volunteer or work experience or sport’s participation.
Owning your own clinic is another challenge. You have to understand insurance and billing and budgets as well as therapy skills. Plan to work for someone else first to understand how healthcare business works, take some business classes then decide about owning a clinic.
Good luck to you!
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Gary’s Answer

Hello! While I may not have firsthand experience as a PT, my daughter works as an occupational therapist, and I'm acquainted with a few physical therapists. Studying kinesiology is an excellent choice for those looking to pursue a career in physical therapy. As for myself, I majored in both Psychology and Business, which I believe is a valuable combination for nearly any profession. Gaining skills in understanding and interacting with people, as well as managing a business, will undoubtedly serve you well in the future. Wishing you the best of luck!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Savannah
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Emma’s Answer

Hello Savannah,

Embarking on the journey to become a physical therapist, and maybe even running your own practice, involves a well-planned educational and career route. You'll kick things off with a bachelor's degree in a related field, making sure you've got key subjects like biology, anatomy, and physiology under your belt. Once you've got your bachelor's degree, the next step is to chase down a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. This graduate-level program, which takes about three years, blends classroom learning with hands-on clinical practice, giving you the tools you need to become a fully licensed physical therapist.

Once you've got your DPT degree, you'll need to get your state license, which usually means passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). It's also really important to get some real-world experience in different healthcare settings, and you might even want to consider getting additional certifications or specializations to help you stand out. If you're dreaming of owning your own physical therapy practice, you'll need to brush up on your business and management skills too. Running a practice means choosing the right location, getting the necessary permits and licenses, figuring out your finances, and building a solid client base - all of which need a good dose of entrepreneurial spirit alongside your clinical know-how. This exciting journey weaves together clinical training, professional experience, and business smarts, setting you up to provide top-notch rehabilitation therapy and potentially run your own show.
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