How To Become an Air Force Physical Therapist

When Airmen suffer from illness or injury, their motor functions can be adversely compromised. Providing services that help restore function, improve mobility and relieve pain, Physical Therapists work closely with patients to help them heal and promote overall wellness. From identifying problems to developing and implementing a care plan, these specialists work with patients as long as necessary so that they can resume healthy, active lifestyles.

How do we transform you from the civilian sector to a leader and an Officer in the Air Force? From education to continued training, your Air Force path is here.

Whether you have specific questions about how to join the Air Force, are seeking more information or are ready to apply, we’re here to help.

Here are the steps to becoming an air force physical therapist:
  1. Get a bachelor’s degree. Air force physical therapists can start their career path in a few different ways. …
  2. Complete a Doctor of physical therapy program. …
  3. Get a license to practice. …
  4. Join the air force. …
  5. Attend officer training.

U.S. Air Force Physical Therapist

What does an air force physical therapist do?

A physical therapist in the air force usually works within hospitals or other medical facilities. They provide physical therapy for other airmen, which might include massage, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, taping and various exercises. The treatment a physical therapist provides is usually part of an overall plan after a physician refers a patient to the physical therapist. Physical therapists also educate their patients on the reasons for the treatments, what the goals are and how the patients can maintain their mobility and health on their own.

What is a physical therapist in the air force?

A physical therapist in the air force is the military version of a physical therapist, who helps with regaining mobility after an injury or illness and learning exercises to improve the patients quality of life. Just like a civilian physical therapist, an air force physical therapist treats patients using a variety of methods. Some professionals might join the air force and later decide to become a physical therapist, while others will become a physical therapist first and then join the air force.

How to become an air force physical therapist

Here are the steps to becoming an air force physical therapist:

1. Get a bachelors degree

Air force physical therapists can start their career path in a few different ways. Some might join the air force, earn a bachelors degree, become an officer, do their doctorate and then become a physical therapist. Others might earn their bachelors before joining and earning their doctorate, while others might complete their entire education before joining the air force. The best option for you is usually an individual choice based on what you want to do with your career and when you decide to pursue physical therapy as a career.

Whatever path you choose, you need to have a bachelors degree before you can begin your physical therapy doctorate. You usually have a variety of options for degrees that help you in a career in physical therapy, such as health sciences, kinesiology, biology or even pre-physical therapy. If youre an airman before you begin your bachelors degree, you may be able to apply some of your training as credits towards your degree, depending on your university.

2. Complete a Doctor of physical therapy program

Once youve completed your bachelors degree, you might decide to join the air force if you havent already and then pursue your doctorate in physical therapy after youve joined. Those with a degree who are in the military are qualified to become officers, so depending on your timeline you might do officer training before your doctorate or you might do it after. Your doctorate teaches you all the necessary information to work as a physical therapist.

Additionally, there are some physical therapy doctorate programs that are specifically made for military members, which may have features that are particularly helpful for those in the military. These programs are not the only doctorate a physical therapist in the air force can earn, but they might make it easier if youre already in the air force. You may even be able to work as a physical therapist while you complete your training if youre already in the air force.

3. Get a license to practice

Physical therapists are required to have a license to practice, which is given by the state you plan to practice in. Sometimes the military requirements are slightly different, so if you are joining the air force before or right after earning your doctorate, its a good idea to understand what the requirements are for you. However, if you plan to work as a civilian physical therapist at all, you need a license. You may also find that having a license already makes it easier for you to begin working as an air force physical therapist.

4. Join the air force

At some point during this process, if youve decided you want to be an air force physical therapist, youll need to join the air force. As mentioned above, you might do this before you start any of your college education or once youve completed it all. Whenever you join the air force, youll have to complete basic training once youve signed up. After basic training, if you have at least your bachelors, youll have to attend officer training before being assigned to your position and location.

5. Attend officer training

Officer training is the military training that allows you to work as an officer, which physical therapists in the air force are. Depending on when you join the air force compared with your educational status, you might complete different types of officer training. Because physical therapists are in demand in the air force, you might be able to complete an accelerated program if you do officer training after your doctorate. Whatever order you do these steps in, they all need to be completed in order to work as an air force physical therapist.

Skills for air force physical therapists

Air force physical therapists need many of the same skills as civilian physical therapists, as well as additional skills related to being a member of the military. Here are some of the skills an air force physical therapist might need:

Work environment for air force physical therapists

Primarily, air force physical therapists work in similar environments to civilian physical therapists, which means they work in hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers and other medical facilities. Air force physical therapists, however, work specifically in military facilities and their patients are other airmen. Some air force physical therapists get deployed overseas to areas where combat is happening, however they are usually working out of a field hospital or a similar base setup. Additionally, air force physical therapists might be stationed overseas in a permanent duty station in countries like Germany or Japan, or they might be stationed in the United States.

FAQ

Can you become a physical therapist in the Air Force?

Doctor of Physical Therapy Training Program

Graduates earn a doctor of physical therapy degree from Baylor University. Enlisted applicants accepted for the program are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Air Force Medical Service Corps. Upon completion of the program, all graduates join the BSC.

Will the Air Force pay for PT school?

All tuition and fees are covered by the uniformed services and selected applicants must join the military to attend.

How much does a PT in the Air Force make?

How much does a Physical Therapist make at U.S. Air Force in the United States? Average U.S. Air Force Physical Therapist yearly pay in the United States is approximately $85,937, which meets the national average.

How do you become a PT in the military?

Currently licensed and practicing in the U.S. (new graduates must obtain a license within one year of beginning Active Duty service) Graduate of an approved school. Willing to serve a minimum of three years Active Duty. In good physical condition and able to pass a full medical examination.

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