Physical Therapist Training Programs and Requirements

To become a practicing physical therapist, you need to enroll in the correct degree program before earning your certification or license. Learn what types of degrees are available in physical therapy training and what you can learn inside your classes.

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Overview of Physical Therapist Training Programs

Enrolling in a physical therapist training degree program prepares you for a career helping patients recover and rehabilitate from illness or injury. You will learn to communicate with your patients about their conditions and how to work with them on individual approaches to therapy. Human anatomy and the interactions among different body systems are just a few of the topics you will cover during a physical therapist training program.

There are multiple levels of physical therapist training available. If you want to become a physical therapy assistant, you can start your career after earning an associate degree in the field. To become a licensed physical therapist, you will need to start with a bachelor's degree and continue through graduate school. Check out the information below to determine what kind of training is required to be a physical therapist.

Degree Options for Physical Therapist Training Programs

Associate Degree in Physical Therapy Training

If you prefer to work under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist, you can enroll in an associate degree program, which you might find under the title of Associate in Applied Science: Physical Therapy Assistant. Programs like this one usually last around two and a half years, teaching you the necessary skills and background to work with patients and help rehabilitate any existing conditions. An associate degree in physical therapy may involve courses in pathophysiology, anatomy, and administrative procedures. You can also participate in clinical experiences to get an idea of what your job environment will be like once you start your career.

Bachelor's Degree in Physical Therapy Training

Earning a bachelor's degree in physical therapy training can take you down a couple of different paths. If you want to enhance your skills as a physical therapy assistant, you could pursue a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy Assistant, also known as a BSPTA. You may be able to find this program online, allowing you some flexibility in your schedule if you already have a career as a physical therapy assistant. You can explore courses in technical writing, inpatient or outpatient care practice, and pharmacology. If you plan to move forward in your career, you can also choose a Bachelor of Science in Health Science on a Pre-Physical Therapy track. You can take courses in healthcare administration and chemistry before you consider specializations in physical therapy and certification or licensing in your state.

Master's Degree in Physical Therapy Training

Practicing physical therapy might lead you to a terminal graduate degree. You could enroll in a program like a Master of Arts for Physical Therapists, which might also be known as a Post-Professional MA in Pathokinesiology. You can incorporate advanced research techniques to review electromyography and cinematography. A physical therapy program like this master's degree is full-time, usually starts in the spring or fall, and includes a summer term. Some of the courses you might explore during your plan of study include statistics, human motion evaluation, and physiological psychology.

Doctoral Degree in Physical Therapy Training

Your studies during physical therapy training can culminate in a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Programs like these can involve over 100 credit hours, including several different rotations through physical therapy units. You might see patients from pediatrics, acute care, and cardiopulmonary areas of therapy. In some programs, you might complete a capstone project after you finish evaluating several mock clinical cases. Clinical rotations can require up to 40 hours per week of attendance. Along with your practicum sessions, you can learn about topics that include medical imagine, orthotics, and neuromotor dysfunctions.

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