The journey to becoming a physical therapist is a challenging one. The healthcare industry ensures that only qualified healthcare providers can provide care to sick patients. Proper education and training is required for all healthcare professionals. The more is required for higher positions like physicians, occupational therapists, surgeons and physical therapists. So if you want to become a physical therapist, be prepared to complete all the educational requirements needed.
The first thing you need is an undergraduate education. You should earn a bachelor’s degree in any science-related field like biology, physiology or anatomy. There are colleges and universities that offer pre-physical therapy majors like physical education and health. It will be best to choose these majors to increase your chances of getting into a physical therapy school. In addition, you should be good with health and science subjects because the coursework will ultimately revolve around physical education, personal wellness and physiology.
Once you have completed the basic educational requirement, you should proceed to get a graduate degree. You can choose between a master’s degree or a PhD. These two programs differ in scope as well as the requirements for application. Common requirements include a GPA score and hours of volunteer work. A master’s degree typically lasts 2 years while a doctorate can last up to 8 years.
Doctorate degree programs are more in-depth and will let you make your own dissertation after. This is the highest level of degree you can get as a physical therapist. Doctorate programs will also include clinical clerkships where in students work in healthcare facilities to assist or help physical therapists. Clerkship programs will depend. Some are part-time while ore advance clerkships are full-time. Clerkship programs are necessary to build your experience.
Once you obtained all the educational requirements, the only step left is to get your license. The National Physical Therapy Examination is the only thing standing in your way to become a licensed physical therapist. To keep your license over the years, continuing education may be required but this will depend on the state requirements.
Education is of primary importance when becoming a licensed physical therapist and you should make sure that you only graduate from a degree program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education. CAPTE is recognized the U.S. Department of Education as well as the Council of Higher Level Education Accreditation to be the only accrediting agency for physical therapy schools and degree programs.