Have you ever thought about becoming a physical therapist? It’s an incredibly rewarding career path that offers the opportunity to help others improve their quality of life. Becoming a physical therapist requires dedication and commitment, but if you’re willing to put in the work, it can be an extremely fulfilling and lucrative job. 

In this article, we will take a look at the steps required to become a physical therapist, as well as answer some frequently asked questions about the profession. So, if you’re ready to take your first steps on the journey of becoming a physical therapist, let’s get started!

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in a Related Field

Completing your undergraduate degree is the first step on the road to becoming a physical therapist. In order to be accepted into a physical therapy program, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in a field that is related to health sciences, exercise, and/or sports. 

Depending on the program you are applying for, there may be specific prerequisites that you must complete as well. These could include courses in physics, kinesiology, biology, chemistry, physiology, and human anatomy. Make sure to research the requirements of the program you are interested in so that you can take all of the necessary classes before applying. 

With hard work and dedication, earning your bachelor’s degree can help set you up for success on your path toward becoming a physical therapist.

Step 2: Complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree

Once you have earned your bachelor’s degree, the next step towards becoming a physical therapist is to complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. This type of program typically takes three years to complete and involves both in-class learning and hands-on clinical experience. 

During the first year, students will learn about topics like pathophysiology, imaging, biomechanics, anatomy, and more. The second year is when physical therapy students enter the clinic for rotations supervised by a clinical instructor. Depending on the school, there may also be innovative simulation components included as well. 

Finally, the third year includes advanced fieldwork under the supervision of experienced clinicians in specialty areas such as pediatrics or geriatrics. Earning your DPT degree is an essential part of becoming a successful physical therapist!

Step 3: Pass the NPTE

The next step towards becoming a physical therapist is to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). This computer-based exam consists of 250 multiple-choice questions split into five sections and is scored on a scale of 200–800. The FSBPT offers this exam four times each year in January, April, July, and October. Candidates are allowed to take it up to three times in one year. 

Passing the NPTE is an essential part of becoming a licensed physical therapist, so make sure you study hard and be prepared for it!

Step 4: Obtain a License to Practice

Obtaining a license to practice physical therapy is the final step in becoming a PT. Each state has its own licensure requirements, so it’s important to check with your state board before applying for a license. 

Generally, you will need to submit an application and fee, provide evidence of passing the NPTE, and meet additional criteria such as completing compliance training and passing background checks. Once you’ve satisfied all the requirements and have obtained your license, you will be able to legally practice physical therapy! 

Keep in mind that most states require physical therapists to renew their licenses every two years by meeting continuing education requirements. 

Step 5: Consider a Residency Program and Board Certification

Once you’ve obtained your license to practice physical therapy, there are additional steps you can take to advance in your career. Consider participating in a residency program or becoming board certified in one of nine areas of physical therapy offered by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). 

These programs provide intensive training and experience for physical therapists and often include specialized courses, hands-on clinical rotations, and research projects. Residency programs generally last two years, while board certification requires an additional three years of clinical experience plus passing an examination. 

Becoming certified in a specialty area demonstrates expertise and can lead to greater recognition within the profession. With the right training and dedication, you can become a leader in physical therapy!

Step 6: Get a Job as a Physical Therapist

Once you’ve completed your studies, obtained your license and potentially a residency program or board certification, you’re ready to get out in the field and start applying for jobs as a physical therapist. First, it’s important to research the job market in your area. 

Check out job postings on websites like Indeed and Glassdoor for physical therapy positions that interest you. It’s also helpful to network with other physical therapists or contact potential employers directly to see if they have any openings. Once you’ve identified some potential opportunities, make sure to tailor your resume and cover letter specifically for each position. 

When interviewing for a job, be prepared to discuss how your skills and experience make you an ideal candidate for the role. With hard work, dedication and enthusiasm, you can soon find yourself in a fulfilling career as a physical therapist!

Step 7: Maintain Licensure and Continue Professional Development

As a licensed physical therapist, you will need to complete continuing education courses to maintain your license and stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field. Networking with other professionals and attending conferences can also help with career advancement.

Is Becoming a Physical Therapist Worth it?

Becoming a physical therapist can be an incredibly rewarding career, but it’s important to understand all the time and effort that goes into it before taking the plunge. From completing educational requirements to passing licensing exams, becoming a physical therapist isn’t for everyone. 

That said, if you have a passion for helping others and take pleasure in seeing patients get back on their feet, this could be the perfect job for you. With great job security and potential for advancement, being a physical therapist can open up many new opportunities in life. 

For those who are passionate about helping others, physical therapy can be a very rewarding and fulfilling career. With hard work and dedication, you can become a licensed physical therapist and make a real difference in people’s lives. 


In conclusion, becoming a physical therapist is a worthwhile endeavor that can lead to a rewarding career. To become a licensed physical therapist, you will need to complete an accredited program and pass the necessary exams. 

Additionally, it’s important to have good interpersonal and communication skills as well as be passionate about helping people recover from injuries or medical conditions. Once you’ve obtained your license, you’ll then have the opportunity to find a job in this field and make a real difference in the lives of those around you. 

With the right attitude and determination, becoming a physical therapist can be an incredibly rewarding career that has the potential to change lives. Read on to find out more about frequently asked questions about becoming a physical therapist.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Physical Therapist

Becoming a physical therapist can be an incredibly rewarding career, but there are a few things to consider before taking the plunge. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about becoming a physical therapist:

How do I become a physical therapist? 

To become a physical therapist, you’ll need to complete an accredited program and pass the necessary exams. This includes obtaining your bachelor’s degree, completing an accredited Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, and then passing the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE).

How much does it cost to become a physical therapist? 

The costs associated with becoming a physical therapist vary widely depending on your program and location. In 2023, the average tuition and fees for the Physical Therapy/Therapist undergraduate program are $9,653 for in-state students and $31,971 for those from out-of-state. You should also factor in the cost of a bachelor’s degree as well as additional associated fees such as room and board, relocation, and transportation costs.

Which Qualities Should a Physical Therapist Cultivate?

Physical therapists are expected to provide compassionate and effective care for their patients. To do this, it is essential that they cultivate certain qualities to ensure success in this field. Here are some of the most important qualities that physical therapists should strive to have:

Compassion: Physical therapists must be able to empathize with their patients and understand their needs. They should also be patient and understanding when teaching new exercises or treatments.

Communication Skills: Physical therapists must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with patients, family members, and other healthcare professionals. They should also be comfortable discussing sensitive topics related to a patient’s condition.

Attention to Detail: Physical therapists must pay close attention to the details of each patient’s case in order to create an effective treatment plan. They should also take into account any conditions or allergies the patient might have before recommending therapies or exercises.

Dexterity: Since physical therapy involves working with manual tools such as massage equipment, physical therapists need good dexterity and hand-eye coordination in order to successfully carry out treatments.

Creative Thinking: Physical therapists must think outside the box when it comes to developing treatment plans for their patients. They should use different techniques and approaches in order to find what works best for each individual case.

Time Management: Physical therapists need excellent time management skills in order to juggle multiple appointments throughout the day while still providing quality care for each patient they see.

These qualities are essential for success as a physical therapist, so aspiring PTs should strive to enhance these traits even before entering this field!

Where Do Physical Therapists Work?

Physical therapists can be found in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, sports training and fitness centers, and inpatient rehabilitation facilities. Depending on the setting they work in, physical therapists may specialize in treating certain conditions or patient populations. 

For example, some physical therapists may focus on helping patients recovering from surgery or sports injuries, while others may specialize in helping elderly people regain mobility or those with chronic ailments.

Each physical therapy setting will offer its own unique opportunities for learning and growth. This is why it is important to consider all of your options when deciding which setting to pursue your practice in. 

Whether you choose to work in a hospital, an outpatient clinic, or even start your own private practice, you can be sure that you’ll find yourself surrounded by inspiring colleagues who share your passion for helping people live healthier and more fulfilling lives!

How Long Does It Take to Become a Physical Therapist?

Becoming a physical therapist is no small feat, but it’s well worth the effort. It typically takes anywhere from three to eight years to become a physical therapist depending on your level of education and experience. 

The first step is to earn a bachelor’s degree in health science, which typically takes three to four years. Once you have your bachelor’s degree, you can enroll in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, which will take another three to four years to complete. You’ll also need to pass any state licensing exams that may be required in order to practice as a physical therapist.

While becoming a physical therapist can be a lengthy process, the rewards are certainly worth it! In addition to providing invaluable care and support for individuals with physical impairments or disabilities, you’ll get the chance to make an impact on people’s lives each and every day. With dedication and hard work, you can make your dream of becoming a physical therapist come true!

How Much Do Physical Therapists Make?

A physical therapist in the United States makes around 97K per year. However, salaries can vary significantly depending on the position, setting, experience level, education level, and geographic location. Physical therapists in some states may also be able to command higher salaries due to the demand for their services in those areas.

How do I become a physical therapist assistant?

To become a PTA, you’ll need to start by earning an associate degree in physical therapy from an accredited program. This typically takes two years to complete but can vary based on individual programs. It’s also important to research state-specific requirements for licensure and certification, as these may vary from state to state. Once you’ve finished your education and met all licensure requirements, you’ll be ready to begin your career as a PTA!

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