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Pediatric Therapy Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

After earning a master's degree, students interested in becoming pediatric therapists can pursue a doctorate in physical therapy or a residency in pediatric physical therapy. These programs teach various methods to treat infants and children in recovery or struggling with illness.

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Essential Information

Prospective enrollees for a doctorate and residency in occupational therapy must have a bachelor's degree, satisfactory Graduate Records Examination (GRE) scores, letters of recommendation and a personal interview. Completion of prerequisite courses in subjects like anthropology and sociology may also be required for admission. Curriculum covers theoretical and practical applications, child and adult occupational performance, psychosocial implications and research methods. A thesis, internships, and clinical study are typically necessary for graduation.

3-year physical therapy doctoral material focuses on rehabilitative treatment to improve motor skills and quality of life for youth with medical conditions or injuries. Preliminary science classes may have to be taken. 1-year residencies in pediatric physical therapy can be found at universities and hospitals and are designed for licensed or license-eligible professionals. Students receive specialized training in treating infants and children.


Doctor of Physical Therapy

Doctoral curriculum consists of theoretical lectures, laboratory sessions and local healthcare facility clinicals. In addition to orthotics and prosthetics, neuropathology, physiology and cardiopulmonary physical therapy, core subjects include:

  • Patient management
  • Anatomy
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Pharmacology

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Residency in Pediatric Physical Therapy

Residency students spend majority of the program working directly with patients in hospitals. Examples of lecture topics are:

  • Standardized testing
  • Cardiopulmonary physical therapy
  • Orthopedics
  • Oncology
  • Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for occupational therapists and physical therapists is predicted to grow at a rate of 27% and 34%, with mean annual salaries of $81,690 and $85,790 as of May 2015, respectively.

Continuing Education

All physical therapists practicing in the United States must be licensed. Stipulations vary by state, but most mandate a certain number of education credits and the passing of an examination. Those who have completed pediatric residencies may opt for specialty certification through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties for career advancement opportunities (www.abpts.org). Reinstatement is needed after 10 years.

Students who would like to do pediatric therapy can earn a degree in physical therapy or occupational therapy, then continue on to a residency in pediatric therapy. To practice, prospective therapists must pass first pass a state licensing exam.

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