Physical therapists help injured and ill patients manage their pain, improve their range of motion, and get back to functioning at their highest potential.
Joining this rewarding career requires years of education, mastery of a variety of skills, and both national and state licensure. To help you get started on your path to becoming a licensed physical therapist, we outline six steps, plus other requirements to think about.
Whether you’re currently in high school or college, choosing a grad school that offers a robust DPT degree will be an important step along your journey to becoming a practitioner.
- Get a bachelor’s degree. …
- Earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) …
- Acquire a license to operate as a physiotherapist. …
- Complete a residency. …
- Become a certified physiotherapist. …
- Write your resume and a cover letter.
How to Become a Physical Therapist
What does a physiotherapist do?
Physiotherapists work in the health industry, helping patients with ambulatory and mobility issues live with minimal or no pain. They teach patients how to prevent injuries, manage current conditions and do strengthening exercises. They also perform hands-on physical therapy. Physiotherapists responsibilities might include:
What is a physiotherapist?
A physiotherapist, also called a physical therapist, is a health professional who helps people with injuries or illnesses manage extreme pain, be more mobile and enjoy a better quality of life. Because physiotherapists perform hands-on therapy, they must complete practical training, undergo a comprehensive education program and gain special skills.
How to become a physiotherapist
Follow these steps to start a rewarding career as a physiotherapist:
1. Get a bachelors degree
To be a physical therapist, you need a high level of training to study for your graduate doctoral degree, which the industry requires. Gain a bachelors degree that has a firm basis in physiology, chemistry, biology, physics or anatomy to prepare you for advanced studies.
Degree programs related to physical therapy such as health sciences, athletic education, pre-physio therapy and fitness science can also provide you with valuable skills. Consider taking these courses, followed by an internship to gain practical experience.
2. Earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
By law, a physiotherapist must complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy program to work in this field. Look for a DPT program approved by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), and apply through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). To complete a DPT program, you must also get an internship under an accredited physical therapists supervision to develop your hands-on practical experience.
Within a Doctor of Physical Therapy program, you can learn about the following topics:
3. Acquire a license to operate as a physiotherapist
All states require physiotherapists to hold a license, although each states requirements vary. You can obtain your license by passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). You can use the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapys practical test and tools to prepare for the NPTE, which is a computerized test that occurs three times per year.
Before you can get a license, your state might also require a criminal background assessment to prove you adhere to its ethics and laws. The state board might also require you to renew your license after a certain period and continue physical therapy education credits to keep your license up to date.
4. Complete a residency
After earning your DPT, consider pursuing a clinical fellowship or residency, which is a one-year training program that can help you specialize in a certain area of physiotherapy. These programs expand your experiences, knowledge and skills in one area of focus.
5. Become a certified physiotherapist
You might pursue specialist certification to become a board-certified medical specialist. Some employers only hire certified physiotherapists. This credential shows you are a dedicated physical therapist who can deliver trustworthy and high-level patient care. Once you become a certified medical professional, you can apply for a wide range of physiotherapy jobs, including leadership and management positions.
Physical therapy fields you can choose to become certified in include:
6. Write your resume and a cover letter
Once you have fulfilled your educational and certification requirements, you can apply for a job that matches your career skills. Prepare a cover letter and resume that shows employers you are the best candidate for the job. Include your clinical experience, qualifications and education. Update your resume to add keywords, skills and information that are relevant to each position you apply for. Look for jobs with home health providers, hospitals, nursing facilities, outpatient clinics, rehab centers and athletic training facilities.
Salary and job outlook
Physiotherapists might also find work in these related jobs:
Primary Duties: A physical assistant is a licensed professional who helps patients under a general managers supervision. They receive similar training as physicians and diagnose and treat physical injuries and medical conditions. The physician assistants work involves:
Primary Duties: This profession involves helping groups and individuals perform physical exercises. A fitness trainer ensures the patients physical fitness level improves through strength training and cardiovascular exercise. They show clients how to use exercise equipment that includes weight machines and treadmills. They also educate their clients about training and diet and create fitness plans that match their needs.
Skills for a physiotherapist
Physical therapists should have the following skills to succeed in their jobs: