Students seeking bachelor's degree programs that prepare them for careers in physical therapy could consider enrolling in pre-physical therapy programs. Pre-physical therapy bachelor's degree programs typically require four years of study to complete, though some universities provide combined bachelor's-DPT programs that are six years in length. DPT programs are the minimum educational requirement for becoming a licensed physical therapist.
Pre-Physical Therapy Bachelor's Degree Program
These programs are often found as concentration or specialization options that can be added on to a related bachelor's degree programs, such as biology and health sciences. Pre-physical therapy programs offer classes in both of those subjects. Some common courses include:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Exercise physiology
Continuing Education and Certification Information
After completing a bachelor's degree program in pre-physical therapy, students may apply to a DPT program to continue their physical therapy education. DPT programs can typically be completed in three years and include both clinical and classroom experiences.
All states require physical therapists to be licensed. Licensure requirements may vary slightly by state, but typically include completing a Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)-accredited program and passing the National Physical Therapy Examination; a state exam and background check are also required in some states.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reports that employment of physical therapists is expected to increase by 34% between 2014 and 2024. This employment projection is much faster than the national average for all other occupations. The primary driving force behind the excellent job growth figure is the increasing number of elderly citizens. This demographic is more likely to need services offered by physical therapists.
The increased need for physical therapy services by the elderly is also compounded by an aging baby boomer population and increasing lifespan projections for U.S. citizens. According to the BLS, as of May 2015, the median annual salary of licensed physical therapists was $84,020.
Students interested in pursuing careers as physical therapists can enroll in pre-physical therapy bachelor's degree programs. Schools often offer this program as a specialization option for other majors, such as biology or health sciences. This program can be followed by or combined with a Doctor of Physical Therapy program.