Physical Therapist (PT) Training

What is a Physical Therapist (PT)?

Physical Therapists (PT) provide care to people of all ages who have functional problems. They perform services directed at preventing the onset or decreasing the development of conditions resulting from injury or disease.

PTs diagnose and treat individuals who have medical programs or other health related conditions, injuries, or illnesses that limits their ability to move and perform functional activities in their day to day lives.

PTs examine each patient and develop a plan to reduce pain, restore function and mobility, and prevent disability. They also work with individuals to prevent to the loss of mobility before it happens by developing wellness and fitness programs.

PTs will evaluate and diagnose movement dysfunction and use interventions to treat patients. Interventions may include therapeutic exercise, manual therapy techniques, functional training, physical agents and electrotherapeutic modalities, and assistive and adaptive devices and equipment.

PTs will often consult and practice with a variety of other professionals– such as physicians, nurses, dentists, educators, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, audiologists and social workers

PTs perform a wide variety of functions in order to optimize a patient’s recovery.

PTs will work in a variety of healthcare settings like private physical therapy offices, hospitals, home health agencies, sport teams and organizations, nursing homes, community healthcare centers, rehabilitation centers, colleges, industrial or corporate health centers, research institutions, and pediatric centers.

What are the educational requirements to become a physical therapist?

Each program differs from state to state and each has a specific curriculum that you’ll need to graduate.

In 2009, there were 212 physical therapist education programs. Of these accredited programs, 200 awarded doctoral degrees and 12 awarded master’s degrees. Master’s degree programs are typically about 2 to 2.5 years, and doctoral degree programs last 3 years.

Physical therapist education programs include science courses, such as biology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, cellular histology, neuroscience, biomechanics, exercise physiology, pharmacology, and radiology/imaging. Programs also include behavioral science courses, such as evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning.

Some of the clinically-based courses include examination tests and measures, medical screening, diagnostic process, therapeutic interventions, outcomes assessment, and practice management.

It is recommended that a PT earns their licensing. This is done through the National Physical Therapist Exam (NPTE).

What are the some of the Job Responsibilities of a PT?

  • Provide direct supervision of physical therapy assistants
  • Develop, implement and coordinate the physical therapy programs
  • Evaluate patients using appropriate tests, observation and supplementary information from other agencies and records.
  • Develop and implement intervention strategies.
  • Develop physical management plan.
  • Evaluate and report on progress.
  • Communicate and consult with school staff, parents, coworkers, administrators, physicians, community and other professionals.
  • Collaborate with community based therapists and other healthcare providers for effective coordination of service.
  • Assess need and recommend assistive technology necessary for function at school or work.
  • Provide consultation regarding emergency evacuation of students with disability.
  • Participate with improving school accessibility and planning environmental modification.
  • Procure, maintain and inventory equipment, materials and supplies.

What is the average salary for a physical therapist?

The median salary for a physical therapist is more than $52,000, according to the American Physical Therapy Association. The salary greatly depends on the years of experience, position, degree of education, geographic location, and practice setting.

Salary Report (United States)