Building Your Future: Understanding PT Education Requirements

If you’re interested in becoming a physical therapist, an exciting and rewarding career lies ahead of you. It’ll give you the satisfaction of being able to help people while also posing a constant challenge. That’s exactly what many people are looking for in a career, especially in the field of healthcare. You’ll be helping people recover from injuries, manage chronic conditions, and regain or maintain their independence. You’ll need to meet certain educational requirements beforehand, though. 

Undergraduate Studies

Acquiring a bachelor’s degree is one of the most basic physical therapist education requirements. You’ll need to attend an accredited college or university for that. Though there are no specific requirements in terms of a major, most people who are interested in becoming physical therapists pursue degrees in biology, kinesiology, health science, or other related fields. Some of the prerequisite courses here are anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and psychology, but others are also included. Earning your bachelor’s degree in biological sciences will help give you the background you need to move forward in physical therapy. 

Obtaining a Graduate Degree

From there, you’ll need to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree through a physical therapy program. Be sure the program you choose is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. A DPT program usually takes about three years to complete after acquiring your bachelor’s degree.

Doctor of Physical Therapy programs entail classroom education as well as hands-on clinical learning. They cover a variety of topics, including neuroscience, pathology, biomechanics, and therapeutic intervention to name a few. Several schools across the country offer top-rated DPT programs

Clinical Experience

As part of your DPT program, you’ll need to successfully complete a variety of clinicals. This includes rotations, internships, and other hands-on training. It allows you to work in different clinical settings alongside licensed physical therapists. You’ll most likely gain experience in hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing facilities, and rehabilitation centers. You’ll be able to work with patients and learn things you just can’t glean from books alone. 


After completing your DPT program, you’ll need to obtain a license to practice physical therapy. Licensing requirements vary by state, but they generally involve passing the National Physical Therapy Exam that’s administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Some states require additional state-specific exams, background checks, and other prerequisites. You’ll learn more about the requirements in your state as you complete your PT education and prepare to take the necessary tests. 

Ongoing Education

Once you become a licensed physical therapist, you don’t leave the educational world behind. PTs are required to take part in continuing education for the entirety of their careers. Otherwise, you won’t be able to maintain your license. At the same time, ongoing education helps to keep you up to date on the latest developments and advancements in the field. It’ll equip you to better help your patients. 

Becoming a Physical Therapist

If you love to help people and are always up for a challenge, a career as a physical therapist may be perfect for you. Forging through undergraduate studies, a DPT program, clinicals, and licensing exams can certainly be a feat, but reaching your goals is well worth the time and work involved. At this point, America is facing a shortage of physical therapists as well as a surge in demand for the services they provide. As such, you’ll be in high demand once you become a licensed PT. You’ll ultimately play an essential role in the lives of your patients and make a major difference.

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