How to become a Physical Therapist | Get Your Roadmap Now |

Welcome Aboard. Our team has made a complete roadmap to help you reach your destination, “How to become a Physical Therapist, “so tighten your seat belt to start this journey.

In this roadmap, we have uncovered five steps to become a physical therapist and each step is brief with information that helps to complete that step and move further.

We request that if you want to become a professional physical therapist, you need to follow the given steps –

How to become a Physical Therapist

1. Small Encyclopedia of Physical Therapist

It is one of the prominent careers in the health industry. They heal the patient’s pain, injuries, illness, and dysfunctional movements of joints with relevant exercises, stretching, etc.

Purpose of Physical Therapy is not limited to exercises; they make proper care plans, including daily improvements, frequency of workouts, and equipment use.

Population Physical Therapist Serve

Being a Physical Therapist, you need to serve diverse populations, including children, athletes, elderly patients, patients with acute or chronic conditions, or those recovering from surgeries.

Salary of Physical Therapist

As per BLS Report, the average physical therapist salary is $ 92,920 annually, while its salary depends on various factors such as location and industry physical therapist working in. In the below image, you can check the average annual salary of each state,

Average Salary of Physical Therapist

Career Outlook

As per reports, about 1 in 5 Americans will be aged beyond 65 by 2030, which causes various types of pains in the body, and nowadays, surgeries are getting costly as well. To avoid surgeries, people are moving towards physical therapy.

As per BLS, the job outlook for physical therapist is 21 %, which is good compared to other professions.

2. What Skills Are Required for a Physical Therapist

In the physical therapy profession, it’s not peculiarly essential for you to have academic knowledge only. One must have some personal skills also, which include –

Physical Strength

It’s vital for one who is willing to make must have stamina so they can perform exercises in a flow during the whole session, Most session of physical therapy takes one hour to complete.


Assistance is a significant concern in physical therapy. While performing the manual exercise, you should be concerned about the movement of patients and assist them with the help of your hands so that they can function efficiently,


Being a Physical Therapist, one must have a motivation attribute, as therapy is time taking process, So you need to make patients confident with the results they forecast after therapy. To comfort patients, you must listen to them calmly.


Physical Therapy can’t only be concerned regarding their technique performance on patients. One must have administration skills to maintain a Plan of Care for every patient and more often develop the ability to manage more patients in one schedule.

Detail Oriented

Depth acknowledgment of the patient is not the only concern of medical doctors,

Physical Therapist also has to make depth observation of the pains, and injuries of the patient, so they can conclude with detailed information on the origin of the problem and starts the treatment with a plan of care.

So, to make a successful career in physical therapy, one needs to develop in-depth observational ability.

3. Education Requirements for Physical Therapist

To become a licensed physical therapist, one needs to have a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, and each university offering a DPT program has some prerequisites which need to be fulfilled by the applicant, 

List of Physical Therapy Schools Prerequisites

Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree – You need to get a bachelor’s degree in particular subjects, including Biology, Kinesiology, Chemistry, and Physiology.

Shadowing Hours – Under this, you need to work under a licensed physical therapist to get an observation experience of 100 to 150 hours at least. Getting observation experience in various settings such as acute, orthopedics, and sports injury benefits you in DPT school admission. 

Remember to get the document of volunteer experience from a licensed physical therapist you work with.

GRE Result – In some DPT schools, candidates must have a GRE (Graduate Record Examination) Score for admission, while some universities also provide minimum validity for GRE Scores acceptance.

Reference Letters – In DPT universities admission, reference letters are important documents to showcase. Additionally, one must get 2 to 4 reference letters from particular people who know regarding you and have the ability to determine on selective filters – Leadership, time management, communication skills, compassion, etc.

Most DPT Universities demand reference letters from professors, licensed physical therapists (under whom you get volunteer observation experience), and academic advisors. 

After fulfilling the prerequisites, it’s time to apply for the DPT Program. Most universities take the application from PTCAS, while some take it from their website.

Filters to choose the DPT Program –

  • Accreditation – CAPTE 
  • National Physical Therapy Exam Percentage
  • Graduation Rate
  • Employment Rate
  • Clinical Rotations
  • Student and Faculty Ratio
  • Labs 
  • Tuition Fees

What you will learn in DPT Program

DPT Program combines theory and clinical experience, and each college has a minimum of 28 weeks of clinical rotation. While if you see the curriculum of the DPT program includes the foundation of basic science in the first year, and from the second year, it intermediates with conceptual methods of treatment for the patients.

Below is the list of related topics you will get to learn in the DPT program –

  • Clinical Anatomy
  • Orthopedics
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation
  • Neurophysical therapeutics 
  • Musculoskeletal Therapeutics   
  • Diagnoses in Physical Therapy include motion analysis 
  • Life Cycle – Paediatric and Geriatrics
  • Interprofessional Development

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Check state requirements, whether they take online degree preference for NPTE exam and physical therapy state board eligibility as well.

4. Pass Licensure

To start working as a licensed physical therapist, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination, conducted by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). We have a checklist of vital points to give you better information regarding this licensure exam. It includes –

  • NPTE Exam is conducted four times a year
  • The exam is divided into five sections with multiple choice questions
  • Candidates who get 600 marks are considered to pass.
  • Candidates are allowed to give exams only three times a year.

Important Consideration

In some states, getting License from FSBPT is not enough for work, and they have some additional requirements, including compliance training for physical therapists, background checks, and much more.

Apart from this, the licensure validity is two years, so to maintain your FSBPT license, you need to update with trends of physical therapy given by state regulations

5. Additional Physical Therapy Certification and Studies (optional)

Some students want to get specialized in a particular field in physical therapy, so we have listed the options one can prefer for more specialized studies and research –

Residency Program  – It is the post-graduate program under which you will be determined to focus on advanced clinical practice in a more defined way, Moreover, you will be getting advanced studies in the specialty you choose.

Board Certification – American Board of Physical Therapists issues board certification in specialty areas but with some conditions –

  • Must have FSBPT Licensure 
  • Must complete APTA accredited residency program
  • Must have 2000 hours of clinical experience

List of Speciality Area

    • Cardiovascular and Pulmonary
    • Clinical Electrophysiology
    • Geriatrics
    • Neurology
    • Oncology
    • Orthopedics
    • Pediatrics
    • Sports
    • Wound Management
    • Women’s Health

Fellowship – It focuses on subspecialty areas. The curriculum is prepared mainly for residency graduates or board certification students.  

To know more about Physical Therapy, you can check the below resources 

  • American Physical Therapy Association
  • American Council of Academic Physical Therapy
  • Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education    

Frequently Asked Question

To become a fully licensed physical therapist in US, it takes about three to eight years, which includes your bachelors and doctor of physical therapy as well.

It totally depends on experience and location, while if we see the average salary of physical therapist, it is approx. $95,000.

It depends on college you choose while, tuition fees in public school is $ 18, 500 and in private it is $ 37,784 per year.

Average Duration Physical Therapist work is approx 37 hours while it totally depends on settings you work in such as hospital, sports clininc etc.

As per BLS, projected job growth for physical therapist is 20 percent in upcoming decade, which is relatively good comparing to other professions.

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