How to Become a Physical Therapist in 5 Steps

Physical Therapist

Are you looking to move forward in your career? Do you enjoy helping people to benefit both their physical and mental well-being?

As a physical therapist, you’re sure to create a career that you’ll enjoy every day.

Yet, becoming a certified physical therapist is not easy. There are a lot of steps you must go through before you can treat patients.

Keep reading to learn how to become a physical therapist in 5 steps.

1. Complete an Undergraduate Degree Program

To become a physical therapist, you need to complete an undergraduate degree program. The number of years it takes to complete an undergraduate degree can vary. But, most PT programs take four years to complete.

You will take courses in anatomy, physiology, and other health-related subjects. You will also take part in clinical rotations.

This will allow you to work with patients. Through this, you’ll learn how to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world settings.

2. Gain Experience at a Medical Facility

The next step is to gain experience at a medical facility. You can do this by working as a physical therapist assistant or a physical therapist aide.

You can also volunteer at a physical therapy clinic or a hospital. You will need to be able to show that you have the skills and knowledge to be a physical therapist. After all, you can’t just have your patient lie on a therapy mat table without having any idea what to do after.  

3. Earn a Doctoral Degree in Physical Therapy

A physical therapist often has a doctorate in physical therapy. This is a three-year professional doctoral degree. The curriculum prepares the student for a successful career in physical therapy.

Students will take classes in human anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, and kinesiology. They will also complete coursework in research and clinical practice. Students in this program complete a one-year clinical internship as well.

4. Get a License

After you get a degree, you must then pass a national physical therapy examination. After passing the examination, the individual must then get a state license.

Some states need the individual to also pass a state jurisprudence exam. The requirements can vary from state to state. Do check with the state’s physical therapy board to determine the specific requirements.

5. Complete a Residency and/or Fellowship

After getting a license, therapists must then complete a residency or fellowship. These programs provide advanced training in a specific area of practice. Examples of these areas are geriatrics and sports medicine.

Physical therapists who complete a residency can work with patients with complex needs. Through a residency or fellowship, therapists can further hone their skills and knowledge. This can make a difference in the lives of their patients.

Becoming a Certified Physical Therapist

A career as a certified physical therapist can be very rewarding. Having the ability to help people recover from injuries is a great feeling.

The process of becoming a licensed physical therapist can be long and difficult, but it is worth it in the end. Research the requirements in your state and start working towards your goal now!

If you want to learn about how to become a physical therapist, be sure to check out the rest of our blog.