Accredited Education

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists are licensed health care practitioners who specialize in rehabilitating patients with injuries or helping improve movement in people with functional problems caused by chronic health conditions. Some end goals of physical therapy include restoring an injured person back to full function and helping those with chronic conditions maintain as much physical independence as possible. Physical therapists can expect astounding employment growth of 39% between 2010 and 2020, with the best job opportunities available for PTs who work with the elderly in some capacity, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median yearly salary for physical therapists was $76,310, but salaries can vary significantly based on your level of experience, the region of the country you work in, and your roles and responsibilities. Typical job responsibilities for physical therapists include the following:

  • Assessing and diagnosing a patient’s injury or health condition
  • Developing an individualized plan of care to treat the patient and outlining expected goals of physical therapy
  • Helping patients perform different exercises, stretches, or other therapy modalities to improve physical function
  • Evaluating the patient’s progress toward meeting stated goals for improvement, and modifying the plan of care as necessary if progress is not being made
  • Educating patients on how they should manage their injuries or health conditions at home

To become a physical therapist, you must have a postgraduate professional degree in physical therapy and be licensed in the state you intend to practice in, according to the BLS. The typical educational path for a physical therapist is to first complete a bachelor’s degree in one of the hard sciences, such as biology, and select a Pre-Physical Therapy track. A student would then typically complete either a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) or a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT). PTs who want to enter a specialty, such as acute care or orthopedic care, may also complete a residency after they graduate from a professional program in physical therapy.

Licensed physical therapists who wish to transition into management and take up a position as director of physical therapy may want to look into schools with Masters in Healthcare degree options. These programs will allow PT practitioners to explore the business side of health care and provide valuable training in managing a team, ethical leadership, health care finance and accounting, human resources, and more. After all, PTs whose education was primarily clinical may not have completed course work that emphasizes how to run a health care department, lead others effectively, and how to work as part of a health care management team.

Featured Physical Therapist Profiles