Anyone looking to work in the field of physical therapy must give thought to physical therapist education requirements. Such professionals perform a wide range of duties for those who have limited physical mobility due to illness or injury. Because therapists prescribe treatments and conduct hands-on therapy, they are required to obtain the appropriate education and pass a national licensing exam before they can practice.
For many years, the only formal education needed to work in the field was a bachelor's degree. However, almost all health care facilities now require a master's degree before they will consider one for employment.
Physical Therapist Education Requirements
Educational requirements always include clinical rotations in a healthcare facility and course work that is completed in a classroom setting. There is a variety of options from which prospective physical therapists can choose from when they first set out to acquire the necessary education. For example, a student may decide to enroll in a science major such anatomy, physiology, or biology. Certain schools also offer majors in health and physical education, the latter of which include pre-physical therapy in their curriculum.
Regardless of the option one chooses, one will typically be required to take courses in physiology, personal wellness and physical education, in order to meet the minimum education requirements.
Master's Program Prerequisites
Master's program prerequisites will vary depending upon the physical therapy school one selects; however, most have requirements regarding one's grade point average and his or her level of experience in a related field. In addition, all learning institutions that offer such programs require that a standardized test or exam exam be completed, in which one must receive a passing grade.
Physical therapist education requirements should only be fulfilled at accredited schools. Although most students will find that almost all schools offering Master's degree programs are accredited, it is wise to inquire about the organization from which the school has received its accreditation. The only schools a student should consider are those that have been accredited by an organization that is recognized by the United States Department of Education, such as the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education-CAPTE.
Additionally, those who do not graduate from an accredited school will not qualify to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination. This is a test that must be passed in order for one to become licensed. It is designed to test the prospective physical therapist's knowledge of techniques, practices and physical therapy theories. Because licensing is required in all 50 states and one will not qualify for the exam without having attended an accredited school, the importance of this aspect should not be overlooked.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the field of physical therapy will grow at a higher than average rate until the year 2016. This is likely due to the many advances being made in the field of medical technology. For this reason, it is wise for those seeking a career in this field to familiarize them with the aforementioned physical therapist education requirements.