Due to the rapidly growing needs in the medical and healthcare industries - especially in the different rehabilitative fields - physical therapists are in high demand.
With an aging
population that continues to experience longer life expectancy, as well
as continued advancements in these types of therapies, licensed
professionals with training not only have a great job outlook right now,
but are said to have one of the most personally satisfying, rewarding
positions of all professions.
Becoming a physical therapist
does take a lot of hard work and involve a substantial college career
first, but for those who have what it takes, including the deep desire
to help people, it is a career of choice.
Getting the Right Physical Therapy Training
therapy education and training varies from country to country, although
in all cases a physical therapist will obtain a postgraduate degree and
receive doctoral credentials.
Depending on the intensity of
the programs and their specific curriculums, these degree programs can
be anywhere from 4 to 8 years in their entirety, and dependent on each
country's laws regarding physical therapists.
To become a
licensed physical therapist in the US, students must get a postgraduate
degree in physical therapy, usually awarded today as Doctor in Physical
This involves 4 years of undergraduate school
with an emphasis on those courses that will aid acceptance into the very
competitive programs, and then between 3 and 4 years of graduate
school, including required externship.
Graduated PTAs are
required to be licensed in order to practice, so they must pass a board
run, state-issued licensing examination before they can legally seek
Enrollment to most PT programs is usually very
limited, with most programs receiving many more applicants than will be
Acceptance into the best programs is highly selective
and usually involves many different qualifications including academic
scores, already having completed certain general educational courses in
English, math and the sciences, having taken some specific prerequisite
courses to prepare students for their education in physical therapy,
numerous hours of volunteer work and clinical observation and many
Most PT programs recommend that students begin working
on their qualifications as early as taking the more advanced English,
math and science courses in high school, which can qualify them for
early admission into some PT programs that offer it.
Specialty Education for Physical Therapists
with their education, it is possible for physical therapists to take
further training by completing one of many available residencies, which
will provide a much more intense period of education and training while
working as a physical therapist, a sort of full time, doctoral working
Residencies are usually available in a number of
different settings including cardiovascular and pulmonary specialties,
neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics, pediatrics, sports medicine, women's
health and wound care. They can involve anything such as research,
community service, teaching and more, and usually take anywhere from 9
to 36 months to complete.
Completing a residency in a physical
therapy specialty enables the PT to apply for board certification with
the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (BPS).
even further continue their physical therapy training, any PT who has
completed a residency and is then board certified may then complete a
specialty fellowship. Currently, there are specialties offered in hand
therapy, neonatal, orthopedic, movement science and sports and
Fellowships are usually completed in 6 to 36 months
and, upon reaching this most advanced level of education and training, a
PT is able to seek employment as a specialist in one of the
Salary Increases with Advanced Physical Therapy Training
the median income for physical therapists - the rate at which half of
all PTAs are paid - is approximately $77,000 annually according to the
US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The high-end range
for salaries for physical therapists is as much as $110,000 or more,
It is estimated that only 10% of all licensed PTAs,
out of a population of close to 70,000 licensed individuals, take home
earnings in this higher salary tier, most of which are either board
certified specialists or have graduated a residency program enabling
them to work in more competitive positions.
As with many
healthcare careers, getting the best education and training from
physical therapy assistant schools is going to be paramount in finding
the best employment opportunities afterward.
For those looking
to specialize, their physical therapy training will be even more
critical. Continuing education for higher qualifications in physical
therapy is a long-term endeavor, but one with many professional and
personal benefits for the right person.