Professions in the health sector are developing fast and demand for qualified professionals is on the rise. Physical therapists are some of the health professionals whose demand is on the rise. These health professionals diagnose and treat patients with health related problems which limit the patient’s motor ability. They work with patients of all ages and hence the popularity of this profession. If you are thinking of taking up physical therapy as a career, you are probably wondering how long it will take for you to become a practicing physical therapist. Read on to learn more.
To be considered a qualified physical therapist, the professional needs to have achieved a masters or Doctorate Degree in physical therapy from an accredited physical therapy program. A Masters Degree in physical therapy lasts between 2 years and 2.5 years. A doctorate degree on the other hand lasts about 3 years. Before enrolling for either degree program, it is important that you ensure that the issuing institution is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education.
Before studying for your masters or doctorate degree, you must have completed or worked towards 3 years of a baccalaureate degree. To get the best chances at succeeding in this field, the undergraduate degree should be related to physical therapy. Therefore, it will take a total of between 5 to 7 years of undergraduate and post-baccalaureate study to become a practicing physical therapist.
The practice of physical therapy is controlled by the state. Therefore, the time period it takes as well as the requirements you will need to meet in order to become a licensed physical therapist will largely depend on the state in which you want to practice. Besides the academic qualifications, you will need to pass national examinations and state examinations to become licensed. The state administered examinations are set by the state board to determine whether you are qualified to practice as a physical therapist in the particular state.
Once you are fully licensed, it is recommended you undergo continuing education in physical therapy by attending seminars and workshops. In some states, it is a mandatory requirement in order to remain licensed.
Now that you know how much time it will take you to become a licensed physical therapist, let’s look at the places you can study and some of the course requirements. As mentioned, the curriculum is usually controlled by the state. However, here is a general picture of what is needed.
Physical therapist courses are offered both online and offline. It is considered best to study the course in an offline educational institution. However, if you need a flexible study timetable, online study can work best.
The courses cover classroom and lab instruction as well as supervised clinical experience. The main problem with online study is that the student doesn’t have direct access to lab and clinical facilities which play a major role in the final examinations and state assessments. It is therefore important that you find medical institutions where you can practice physical therapy if you intent to study online.