If you are interested in a profession in the medical industry that is very hands on, but does not involve doing surgery or working in an office all day, a physical therapy degree might be just right.Especially geared toward individuals who enjoy physical fitness, sports medicine and helping patients one on one, PT jobs are a great in-between that can be very fun, very rewarding, and make a real difference in other people’s lives.While all doctors and medical personnel help people, a physical therapist is frequently the last specialist to work with patients after surgical procedures or illness, and through sometimes very long treatment processes, so they get to experience not only the hard work and the pain of therapy, but the joys of helping people get well again.For a real people-person, going to school to become a physical therapist could be a wonderful career choice.Physical Therapy RequirementsThe educational requirements for someone to get a PT degree includes first obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree (which is required for entry into any physical therapy programs), and then completing a graduate program at any one of a number of accredited physical therapy schools.A few graduate programs offer early guaranteed admissions programs for some students as well, where the students gain guaranteed future acceptance into the PT program while they are still high school students, and as long as they complete a required set of undergraduate college courses first.In either case, it is of great importance that students make sure to choose only Commission on Accreditation in PT Education (CAPTE) accredited courses so that they fulfill the necessary educational requirements, both as undergraduate and graduate students or they will not be permitted to sit for their licensing examination.Once enrolled in a program, there are two different degrees that a PT can earn, either a Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT), or a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) or Master of Science in Physical Therapy (MSPT). DPT programs are professional entry-level degrees that all physical therapists must complete.MPT or MSPT programs are continued education, specialty programs that can be taken after a physical therapist has earned their DPT. The DTP physical therapy degree program typically takes three years to complete. Upon obtaining their degree, physical therapists may then take their board licensure examination so they can become employed in their field.In the UK, degree qualifications differ slightly in that schooling requirements to become a PT are currently that of a Bachelor’s Degree in Physiotherapy, only, with the DPT degree considered to be post-professional, continued education. However, this is supposed to change within the next few years, to where UK PTs will all be required to earn a DPT degree as well.Physical Therapy JobsIn order to hold a job as a physical therapist, professionals must have passed their state licensure exam so they may practice in their state. If they relocate to another area, a PT must take the licensing exam for that state in order to be allowed to get a new job.In the US alone, there are close to 200,000 physical therapists licensed to practice at many different types of facilities, with many more individuals working as physical therapists in other countries.PTs are employed by both inpatient and outpatient hospital facilities, physical therapy clinics, fitness centers, skilled nursing centers, extended care facilities, schools, hospices, educational and research facilities, private workplaces and sports medicine practices all over the world.Main duties include assessing patient initial condition, implementing prescribed physical therapy requests by referring physicians, teaching proper use of physical therapy equipment, tailoring therapy to each patient’s ability and progression, and carefully monitoring that progress and reporting it back to the referring physician.Physical Therapy SalaryEntry-level salary for a PT in the US is around $80,000 annually as of 2011, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). In the UK, starting salary according to the National Health Service (NHS) is £21,176 – £27,534 (band 5).In both cases, PT salary rates rises substantially with experience and years on the job, and can increase up to as much as $100,000 or more in the US and up to band 7 (£40,157) in the UK (or higher in the private sector). Naturally, PTs who specialize will make slightly more than the base salary brackets.Interested individuals who would like to learn more about physical therapy schools and program accreditation should contact their country’s professional association for physical therapists, which will be able to point prospective students in the right direction.
As the healthcare industry on a whole has increased in recent years, and continues to do so today, there are more employment opportunities than ever before.One of the only industries that has seen this continued growth despite uncertain economic times, there is no better time than now to make any dreams of becoming a physical therapist a reality.Students preparing to leave high school and considering which colleges to apply to should consider the many physical therapy schools out there if they are interested in a medical career that does not involve actual medicine and surgery itself, but are after a more hands-on position, such as that of a physical therapist or rehabilitation specialist.Educational Requirements for Physical TherapistsBecoming a physical therapist involves extensive training, as well as completion of a postgraduate degree.In order for someone to earn their DPT (doctorate in physical therapy), students must first complete a bachelor’s degree with emphasis on becoming a physical therapist, and then be accepted to – and graduate – a specialized postgraduate program for physical therapists.A few schools still award an MPT (Master of Physical Therapy) or MSPT (Master of Science in Physical Therapy) degree, but those degrees are currently being phased out in many countries including the US, Canada and the UK, so that all physical therapists will then earn the same degree, the DPT.Postgraduate physical therapy programs usually last three years and include professional externships and clinical rotations in order for students to gain actual, on the job experience in the field before they are finished their schooling.In total, students who have completed all necessary courses that have been geared toward becoming a physical therapist (such as taking appropriate sciences during undergraduate study) can expect to spend 7 years gaining their education in most cases. Once having graduated, students may then take licensing examinations anywhere they are required for employment.Choosing the Right Physical Therapy SchoolsThe main concern that any prospective physical therapy students should have when choosing physical therapy schools is that the school is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) in the US, by the Physiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada (PEAC) in Canada, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in the UK or their country’s specific accreditation board in order to assure they are getting the best possible education and training.It has become almost unheard of at this point for any physical therapy schools to not be accredited, but students should be sure before enrolling, since earning their degree, obtaining licensure, and future employment will likely be affected if the school attended is not accredited by one of these organizations.Students with questions about a school’s accreditation are recommended to contact their local accreditation board to inquire about the program, and determine whether it is an acceptable one in order for them to achieve their professional goals of becoming a physical therapist.Other than determining the appropriate accreditation when considering the different physical therapy schools, there are other questions students will want to ask if they are particularly motivated to get their education finished as quickly as possible so that they may commence employment.Some schools will accept certain science and health courses that are taken as undergraduates, crediting them toward their postgraduate degree rather than having the student take the same course again.Also, it is sometimes possible to take externship training while still finishing classroom courses, or there are even some schools that will graduate students before their externship, although they may not sit for their licensing exams before they have completed their on the job training.Admission To SchoolsAnother consideration for high school students who are particularly advanced and already know they are going to pursue a career in physical therapy is applying for early admission to a number of physical therapy schools who offer it.Early admission to these programs guarantees a student admission to their physical therapy school once they have completed undergraduate study, with the added benefit that they can have the extra guidance as to which undergraduate courses to take in order to finish their postgraduate study faster than those students accepted through regular admissions.The good news is that there are hundreds of quality, accredited physical therapy schools available where interested students can enroll and get their degree.Becoming a licensed physical therapist will take hard work and dedication, but the profession enjoys one of the highest rates of job satisfaction of any profession, as well as a very competitive salary, making it all worthwhile.
Getting a physical therapy degree takes time, hard work and dedication. It requires 7 to 8 years of college education and clinical experience learning for those wishing to become degreed, licensed professionals who are eligible for employment as a physical therapist.Physical therapy programs or `PT Programs` are a demanding course of study, but the good news is it is also one of the professions that provide the highest amounts of personal satisfaction to those in the field.Not only do PTs enjoy the benefits of ease of finding employment due to an increasing demand, as well as a highly competitive salary, these professionals report the highest levels of satisfaction and self worth in that they have made a difference in other people’s lives, a feeling that is invaluable.Educational Requirements for a Physical Therapy DegreeStudents interested in becoming a PT must first complete four years of undergraduate learning at an accredited college or university.It is recommended to know ahead of time which PT program the student will likely apply to, and understand their prerequisite requirements in order to make the most efficient use of undergraduate time, enrolling in the courses that will help the student gain acceptance into their program of choice.In most cases, prerequisite classes include English classes, maths and sciences, providing the essential base education on which the more specialized sciences and other classes in their physical therapy major will build on.In order to receive a PT degree, students must first earn their Bachelor’s degree, and then graduate a physical therapy postgraduate program to receive their degree of DPT, Doctor of Physical Therapy.Postgradute learning is largely done in the clinical setting, although there are some classroom courses as well. Working externships are a required part of obtaining their degree as well. Then, once graduated, students can take their licensing examination in order to be eligible for employment as a licensed physical therapist.Transitional Physical Therapy DegreeRecently, there have been some changes made to the degree earned by physical therapists, requiring some professionals to update their degree from what has been termed a “transitional” DPT degree to the now accepted professional DPT degree.In the past, there were two degrees offered depending on the physical therapy school, either the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), or the Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) or Master of Science in Physical Therapy (MSPT).With how the profession has grown in the past 10 years or so, and the desire to standardize educational and professional requirements to obtain degrees, most countries now recognize the DPT as the main degree, and most schools have updated their curriculum’s so that they now offer this degree as well.These changes, and this necessity to update degrees, stems from the public perception of the degree of “doctor” as opposed to “master”, and the need to continually update the education of those practitioners who have been in the field for a while, as therapies have gone through great change in recent years.Updates On MSPT DegreesIt has been stated by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) that by the year 2020, all clinicians graduating from physical therapy programs will earn the degree of Doctor of Physical Therapy, and the MPT or MSPT degrees will no longer be recognized. Physical therapy schools are required to offer only a DPT degree by 2015.Those PTs holding a degree of MPT or MSTP, or even DPT degrees which for some reason do not carry the same educational and clinical experience requirements as most others, are being encouraged to take the necessary transitional courses to receive their upgraded, professional DPT degree.As the main governing professional organizations like the APTA in the US and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) in the UK begin to finalize the standardization of degree requirements, it is likely any PTs holding an MPT, MSPT or a t-DPT (transitional DPT, for graduates of programs currently being changed to fit created standards) will be required to take continuing education courses to elevate their transitional degrees to the new, accepted professional DPT.PT School RecommendationsRecommendations for those interested in enrolling in school to become a PT is to find a program that is accredited by their country’s professional accreditation organization, ensure that the degree offered is the professional Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), and then find out which courses should be taken during undergraduate education to increase the chance of acceptance into the program of choice.Most PT degree programs do not have open enrollment, meaning they accept only the best students who are prepared for the demanding clinical work ahead in order to earn their degree.With the right preparation, and making sure to apply to the right schools, a student will have the best chance of success in gaining the best education and then getting the best position as a qualified physical therapist.