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Career Outlook for Individuals with a Degree or Certificate in Physical Therapy

Career News February 20, 2016

A physical therapist is someone who comes up with rehabilitation plans to help people with mobility problems or people with paining body parts. To learn more about physical therapy, education training required, the job outlook and salary details for these professions, read this article to the end.

Degree or Certificate Programs to Become a Physical Therapist Overview

A physical therapist helps people relieve pain off their body parts, or help people with mobility problems resulting from injuries and accidents walk again. The work of a physical therapist is heavily practical in nature, as you may be required to help patients walk or use their injured body parts naturally. Usually, education requirements are a post graduate degree and completion of the National Physical Therapy Exam.

•Education details – Master’s or PhD in physical therapy
•Licensure – National Physical Therapy exam
•Estimated job growth rate (2012) – 34%
•Annual salary in 2012 – $82,390

Physical Therapy Education and Career Details

While undergoing training, physical therapists are prepared to work with different kinds of patients. They are trained to identify different medical issues such as broken limbs acquired from accidents, sports’ injuries or strokes. After identifying the medical issues, they are then trained on how to approach each of the medical issues at hand and how to tailor them towards the betterment of the individual patient. Jobs for physical therapist are mainly found at private and public hospitals, offering both outpatient and inpatient services. At times, physical therapists may also be employed in home healthcare services, rehabilitation centers, fitness centers and in extended care facilities. Finally, physical therapists may seek employment as teachers or researchers at universities and colleges.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that in 2012, physical therapists earned an annual salary of $82,390. On the other hand, jobs in this career are projected to grow at a rate of 34% up to the year 2022.

Education Details

At minimum, a physical therapist is expected to have a post graduate degree from a recognized physical therapy program. Usually, the physical therapy program offering the training must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Both Master’s and doctorate programs take approximately three to six years to complete. In most cases, people pursuing physical therapy programs have a background in social sciences, mathematics, biology, chemistry or physics’ related undergraduate degrees.


The degree program equips students with knowledge on general health sciences. The training is completed in a classroom, lab and clinical instructions. The common courses covered in this program include motor control, neuroscience, diagnostic imaging and pharmacology.

Licensure and Certificates for Physical Therapists

It is compulsory to get licensed in the U.S. before joining a career as a physical therapist. The National Physical Therapy examination certificate is the most basic and compulsory certificate required in this profession. However, different states may offer state specific licenses before you can be allowed to operate in that specific state. Also, the American Board of Physical Therapy does offer specific fields’ licensing to people with 2,000 hours of work experience in the specific fields.

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Quick Fact
In 2017, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma*.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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