Rehabilitation Therapist Education Requirements

Rehabilitation therapists can earn a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as kinesiology or health sciences, before going on to graduate school. They may pursue several forms of rehabilitation therapy, including physical, occupational and drug rehabilitation therapy. Becoming a rehabilitation therapist often requires a master's degree and state licensure, as well as additional certifications, depending on the chosen specialization.

Physical Therapist Education Requirements

Working with patients who have movement disabilities, physical therapists diagnose, treat and prevent a variety of functional problems. They deal with issues that include, but aren't limited to, arthritis, amputations, and strokes, as well as neck, back, sports and work injuries. A master's degree program in physical therapy takes 2-3 years to complete. The curriculum typically covers neurology, pharmacology and musculoskeletal disorders, among other topics. Students complete a certain amount of clinical hours through internships and hands-on experiences. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that positions for physical therapists are expected to grow 36% between 2012 and 2022, much faster than the national average. Also according to the BLS, the median annual salary, as of May 2013, was $81,030.

Licensure and Certification Requirements

Aspiring physical therapists need to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE), administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy ( Graduate programs prepare them for the test, but graduates must also get a license in the state they wish to practice in. Requirements for the license differ from state to state, but generally include a holding master's degree, passing the NPTE and completing additional exams. Keeping licensure frequently involves completing continuing education credits every so often.

Occupational Therapist Education Requirements

Occupational therapists help emotionally, physically, developmentally or mentally disabled patients regain motor skills and function in daily, independent living. Their duties may involve helping patients learn to dress, clean and feed themselves. The educational requirements for occupational therapists are similar to those for physical therapists. Individuals go through a 4-year undergraduate program before continuing on to get their master's degree in occupational therapy. Students put in a set amount of observation and internship hours, as well as learn about such topics as pathology, gerontology and child development. BLS predicts positions for occupational therapists to grow by 29% between 2012 and 2022, and reports that the annual median salary as of May 2013 was $76,940.

Licensure and Certification Requirements

All states require that occupational therapists complete a graduate program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. Such programs prepare them to sit for the certifying exam. In addition to passing this national certification test, graduates must meet all the requirements in their state. The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy ( offers a voluntary certification leading to the Occupational Therapist Registered designation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( reports that this certification qualifies in some states for licensure, while others use their own exam.

Drug Rehabilitation Therapist Education Requirements

Drug rehabilitation therapists, also known as substance abuse counselors, work with drug and alcohol addicts in their recovery process to overcome addictions. Counseling and support may be offered in group or individual therapy. Master's degree programs in substance abuse counseling can prepare future drug rehabilitation therapists for work. Students participate in fieldwork and internships, and they study treatment and prevention of drug and alcohol abuse. They learn about diagnosis and treatment methods for rehabilitation and counseling. According to the BLS, positions for substance abuse counselors are expected to increase by 31% between 2012 and 2022, and as of May 2013, the median yearly salary was $38,620.

Licensure and Certification Requirements

States have their own requirements for individuals to meet and qualify as a drug rehabilitation therapist. Previous education and work experience in substance abuse counseling help applicants take state licensing exams.

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