Career Resources

How To Become A Physical Therapist

Sarah Koszyk, RD


Physical Therapy helps people who have trouble with movement or who suffer from pain in mobility. Physical therapists are highly trained practitioners who can diagnose and treat people with these symptoms and reduce pain, restore function, and increase movement so that the person can adequately perform daily activities. Physical therapists can be found in hospitals, private practices, sports facilities, nursing homes, and more. They help people of all ages from newborns to senior citizens. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapists make an average of $85,000 per year of annual income.

Education and training is required to become a physical therapist (PT).

Here are 4 steps to take to become a PT:


#1. Get a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy. According to the APTA, you must first attend an accredited undergraduate program for physical therapy and earn a degree. To check which schools provide accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, click HERE. During your undergrad, volunteering in a physical therapy setting is highly recommended so you have a better chance getting into the graduate degree program while gaining further experience and knowledge.


#2. Get a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree. After your undergraduate degree, you must apply for a graduate program from an accredited school. Click HERE to find one. The programs generally take about three years and include about 25-30 weeks of on-hand clinical training in a professional setting.


#3. Get Licensure. After graduation, you will have the necessary knowledge to take the National Physical Therapy Examination by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. All states require you to pass the state licensure exam before being able to practice in that state. Click HERE to learn more about the exam and registration.


#4. Further Residency & Specialization? You have the option of obtaining residency by completing 1,500 hours of clinical physical therapy practice where you are supervised by licensed physical therapists. In addition, you have the option to pursue further specialty certifications such as geriatrics, sports and orthopedics, or neurology which also require additional hours of practice and additional certification exams. Both of these options can enhance your knowledge, skills, and expertise. Here is a complete list of specialty certifications through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists.


Further Resources:

Accredited Physical Therapy Programs (complete list of undergraduate schools)

American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists (complete list of specialty certifications)

American Physical Therapy Association official website

National Physical Therapy Examination exam information

The In’s and Outs of a Successful Physical Therapist’s Private Practice


Sarah Koszyk is the founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. A family-based wellness program and recipe blog where she also conducts cooking videos with kids and provides families with healthy living tips. She is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach where she specializes in sports nutrition and adult and pediatric weight management. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, or LinkedIn. Sarah is also in charge of hiring employees and contractors.

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