How to become a physical therapist in the US
Have you considered becoming a Physical Therapist as a career choice? This blog post is all about what physical therapy is, how it came to be and how you can become a physical therapist.
What do physical therapists do and how did PT start?
At the core, Physical Therapists help people. It’s really that simple. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
Wikipedia states that physicians like Hippocrates and Galen are believed to be the first practitioners of PT as early as 460BC. The first documented origins of physical therapy as a professional group or type date back to 1813 with the age of modern PT being established at the end of the 19th Century. In 1921 what is now the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) was formed. Since that time, the profession and grown and formalized into what we know it has today.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for 2018 was $87,930 per year and the job growth outlook for 2018 to 2028 is much faster than the average for all jobs (22% for PT vs 5% for all jobs combined on average). It’s a growing profession.
What sorts of settings do Physical Therapists work in?
PTs work in a variety of different settings in the healthcare world including some of the following examples:
There are many different settings within PT. As you consider becoming a PT you can also consider what type of setting is of interest to you and gives you a path to a rewarding career.
The basics of being a PT
How to get there?
Apply for a program
Taking the National Physical Therapy Examination
One you get through the education portion (or are within 90 days of your graduation date), you can sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). This is the exam is offered by the Federation of the State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT for short).
The test is comprised of 5 sections with 50 questions each for a total of 250 questions. Out of the 250 questions, only 200 are scored. The questions are multiple choice. The range of scores on the test is 200-800, with 600 being a passing score.
The test is administered at testing locations nationwide. You can take the test anywhere even if you plan to practice in another state. The test is offered 4 times a year, generally, and costs $485 as of this blog post. There may be other fees for certain states.
The FBPT has a great FAQ on the exam. You can check it out here.
Licensure & Practicing
The Bottom Line
Being a physical therapist gives you the opportunity to make differences in people’s live everyday. It’s a process to become a Physical Therapist but with hard work and dedication, you can get there!