Physical therapists are tasked with applying exercise and rehabilitation techniques to treat injuries or abnormalities that affect people’s movement.

Physical therapists also advise patients on fitness and healthy living as well as reducing pain and increasing mobility. This can be a demanding profession As physical therapists stand for long periods, lift patients, and undertake other physically demanding duties. Therefore strength and stamina are required.

As well as devising and reviewing treatment programs, therapeutic exercises, and the application of technological equipment, a large part of this job requires the physical therapist to provide advice on how to avoid future injuries and manage long-term conditions.

Physical therapists work in a wide range of community and hospital settings. Including geriatric medicine, intensive care, mental health, occupational health, orthopedics, pediatrics and women’s health.

Therapists are also increasingly working in the community, particularly in health centers, patient homes, nursing homes, or day care.

If you want to become a physical therapist, read through the following requirements.

Career Profile: Physical Therapist

Education and training

Physical therapists must complete a doctor of physical therapy (D.P.T) degree program accredited by the commission on accreditation in physical therapy education. These DPT programs take it three years chicken piece and include supervised clinical experience in classroom, or hospital type settings, and instruct the therapist how to examine and evaluate patients using medical screening and diagnostic techniques.

A bachelor’s degree is required to gain admission onto a D.P.T program. Some schools however, combine the undergraduate and doctoral degree program together. Undergraduate prerequisites include courses in biology,anatomy, physiology, chemistry, physics and psychology.

Many students benefit from volunteering at physical therapy units in hospitals or clinics. These volunteering opportunities allow students to observe physical therapy processes and gain understanding under licensed practitioners. This first hand experience is often required for admission into the doctoral program.

It is also essential for developing the interpersonal skills that are a requirement for developing relationships with patients. Remember as a healthcare professional you will be dealing with patients on a daily basis so it’s important that you’re able to communicate with them effectively.

Once you have completed your D.P.T degree you will then need to become licensed by the state in which you practice. This requires passing the national physical therapy examination that is administered by Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. This will assess your competency in physical therapy theory, practice, and consultation.

Once you have received license you might consider completing residency. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) residency programs require 1500 hrs. of clinical physical therapy practice that you must compete within 9 to 36 months.

This residency would allow you to examine and diagnose patients under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist, while training in a speciality. You can also choose to contribute to medical research, educate patients, or supervise other junior healthcare professionals.

Finally a physical therapist looking to advance in their career may choose to obtain certification through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.

There are eight different designations choose from, these include:

  • Orthopedics
  • Sports
  • Clinical electrophysiology
  • Geriatrics
  • Neurology
  • Cardiovascular
  • Pulmonary
  • Women’s Health

To achieve these certifications you must be a licensed physical therapist, who has amounted at least 2000 hours of practice in a chosen speciality. You’ll then need to pass a 200 question specialty certification exam.


Responsibilities will depend on your setting and specialisation, however, common duties include:

  • Work with patients and their families or carers to identify and treat physical ailments.
  • Develop and review treatment programs.
  • Encourage exercise and movement by using a range of specific techniques.
  • Educate patients and carers about preventing future injuries.
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest techniques and technologies available for treating patients.
  • Liaise with other healthcare professionals to discover more information on backgrounds of patients.
  • Refer patients for other medical attention.
  • Assist in the supervision of junior staff.
  • Assist patients in recovering from surgery.
  • Be caring, compassionate, and professional

Career paths

There are many career paths available to a physical therapist. You can choose to work in a public or private setting, or even choose to open your own practice.

Many physical therapists to specialize in certain areas. This is particularly useful when a physical therapist wants to open their own practice. It helps to build their reputation as a specialist in their chosen field.

It allows them to attract patients from a wider distribution it is much easier to keep on top of technical and treatment developments.



National Physical Therapy Examination

American Physical Therapy Association

American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties

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