Physical Therapy Programs and Careers Q&A

What careers can I pursue with a physical therapy degree?

Your physical therapy degree obviously qualifies you for a career in just that—physical therapy. However, it’s certainly not a limiting degree.

You can choose to pursue different specializations within the physical therapy field. For example, you can choose to focus on sports-related therapy, for injured athletes, or pediatric physical therapy, for children.

What degree programs will I take?

In order to practice physical therapy, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree, and then you will earn a  doctorate in physical therapy (DPT). There used to be an option to earn a master’s degree in physical therapy (MPT), but as of 2015, all accredited programs offer doctorate-level degrees only. Learn about degree programs here.

What can I expect after I submit a request for information to a school?

After you request more information from a program or school, they’ll contact you to talk about opportunities and courses that interest you. You should use this time to get answers to all your questions about personal trainer school. Feel free to ask any questions you might have about curriculum, instructors, accreditation, financial aid, and more. The answers you get will help you ultimately choose the program for you.

Is financial aid available for physical therapy school?

Financial aid can come from a number of sources. Most common is government financial aid. Before you can be considered for aid, however, your first step will be to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Other types of financial aid include scholarships, grants, private loans and PLUS loans.

What types of courses will I take?

Physical therapy courses will include human anatomy, exercise physiology, kinesiology and body mechanics and principles of exercise. Your curriculum will require clinical practice as you progress through the program.

Is it better to work for myself or an employer?

The majority of physical therapists work for an employer, such as a hospital, doctor’s office or nursing care facility. In these places, you’re often given medical benefits and a structured schedule. Some physical therapists choose to run their own practice, which can offer you the flexibility to choose your own hours. However, working for yourself can present its own challenges, such as being able to maintain a strong client base. You’ll also want to consider if you have the right personality fit to run your own business.

If I work for myself, what else will I need to learn?

Being self-employed means knowing how to run a business. You should take classes in accounting and business administration so you’re comfortable managing payroll and keeping books. If you plan to employ others, courses in human resources will guide you in the right direction.

Does school program accreditation matter for physical therapy careers?

You should look for programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE). This agency is the regulating body for physical therapy schools and sets the standards and policies for the programs.

What type of licensing (if any) will I need?

Physical therapists need to pass national and state licensure exams in order to practice. The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy issues the National Physical Therapist Examination (NPTE).

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