Geriatric Physical Therapy Training and Education Program Options

Licensed physical therapists and graduate students alike can enroll in a certificate program in geriatric physical therapy to gain licensure in that particular specialty. A certificate program typically takes 12 credit hours.

Essential Information

All aspiring physical therapists are required to complete either a master's degree or a doctoral degree program in physical therapy before they are eligible to gain licensure. All individuals who have completed a graduate program in physical therapy are eligible to enroll in a geriatric-focused certificate program. Programs usually consist of 12 credit hours, and some schools admit students who are currently enrolled in a master's degree program in physical therapy and who have not yet met eligibility requirements for licensure.

Geriatric Physical Therapy Certification Program

Geriatric physical therapists help to restore mobility and reduce pain in elderly individuals who are suffering from disease or undergoing the normal aging process. These programs combine classroom work and hands-on training through laboratory exercises. Students study subjects like aging, treatment of the elderly and orthopedic evaluation. Upon completion of this program, professionals might also obtain a geriatric physical therapy specialist certification by receiving a passing score on an examination.

  • Psychosocial aspects of aging
  • Principles of geriatric physical therapy
  • Biological aging
  • Pharmacology and nutrition for aging patients
  • Neuromuscular physical therapy
  • Cardiopulmonary physical therapy

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Physical therapists in general held over 200,000 jobs in the country in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Of these, about 25,700 worked for home health care services and 13,220 worked for nursing care facilities, many of which house geriatric patients. Overall, employment in this field is expected to grow 34% between 2014-2024, which is much faster than average. The median annual salary for physical therapists was reported to be $84,020 in May 2015.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

The American Physical Therapy Association offers a Geriatric Physical Therapy Specialist Certification. The credential is available to individuals who pass an exam in the field. The exam covers elements of geriatric physical therapy practice, patient examination skills, interventions and a general physical therapy knowledge base. Individual states also offer licensure examinations for geriatric physical therapists.

Geriatric physical therapy training is a specialty of many physical therapy programs, which require 12 credit hours to complete. This is a good option for physical therapists wishing to broaden their skills to appeal to more patients.

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