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What Are the Requirements to Become a Physical Therapist?

When in the market for a new career, one of the most appealing and desirable aspects of working in the health and wellness industry is the constant variety. With physical therapy, you have the chance to help clients and potential clients restore physical function and get back to their routines, while growing employment opportunities in different environments and locations. Before you jump into anything, however, you should have a clear idea of what a career as a physical therapist entails. It’s also important for you to take a step back and decide what you would like to accomplish from your career move.

PT is a profession that provides expertise and services to remedy impairment, restore strength and function, improve mobility and enhance physical performance. Much of a physical therapist’s clientele is made up of individuals who have suffered an injury caused by an accident or life-threatening conditions, such as a heart attack or stroke.

Do you fulfill the necessary requirements to become a physical therapist? Take a look:

Establish your goals and objectives

Once you understand what a PT career requires, time to establish your goals and objectives for pursuing it. While this isn’t necessarily a requirement for becoming a professional, establishing clear goals and objectives will give you the foundation you need to pursue your career in a direction that’s right for you. Whatever your objective may be, it’s important to have passion and drive in order to succeed in this competitive industry.

Acquire the education and licensing you need to succeed

Before you can establish yourself as a professional, you’ll need to acquire the right credentials. Educational requirements for physical therapists include an undergraduate and graduate degree, which sometimes can be completed in a combined program. This can take about 5–7 years to complete. All physical therapists must also be licensed in the state for which they practice. If you’re not interested in a degree program, you have the option to pursue a career as a certified post-rehab specialist, which has shared responsibilities.

Certification programs aren’t just for show. They can teach you how to develop safe and effective post-rehabilitative fitness programs for clients who are recovering from a variety of injuries, disease and treatments. With proper training and networking capabilities you can take the next step toward receiving a higher hourly income, as well as running a partner facility for post-rehab patients from area hospitals, clinics and sport- and senior-focused rehab centers.

Gain as much experience as possible

Though this isn’t necessarily a requirement, working as an intern is a great way to get hands-on learning experience and develop relationships in the field. When you make the effort to immerse yourself in the industry, even before you earn your certification, you can establish yourself and prove your worth. An internship coupled with an accredited certification program will provide you with the knowledge and experience you need to assist clients in reaching optimal health. Not to mention, you’ll have the opportunity to shadow a well-established professional during PT sessions and experience firsthand how they help their clients achieve their goals through sound advice and comprehensive programs.

Apply for a job position as a physical therapist

Once you have successfully received your license to practice it’s time to apply for positions. At this point in the process you have put a lot of hard work into receiving a substantial amount of education and certification, so it’s important to take the time to create a well-crafted resume and put your name out there. Just like any other profession, preparing a resume that highlights your objective, experience and education is essential to landing a respectable job. When preparing and distributing your resume, look into career options in a variety of environments such as outpatient facilities, clinics and hospitals.

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