How Long Does It Take to Become a Physical Therapist?

You can look right back into ancient Europe and read about how Hippocrates put forward ideas that may be the first recorded notions of what would become physical therapy. Then there was Per Henrik Ling, known as the “Father of Swedish Gymnastics,” who documented his physical therapy techniques in the early 1900s.

Nowadays, physical therapy is a very serious and prestigious profession. It takes years of learning and dedication to become a physical therapist. But once you qualify, you’re in for a highly rewarding career path, if you have the passion for it.

In this guide, we’ll let you know how long it takes to qualify. We’ll also run through some other relevant info that might interest you. 

What Is a Physical Therapist?

Before we get into the main question, first let’s make it clear what a physical therapist is. So put simply, they are professionals that deal with mobility issues in patients. This includes assessing, diagnosing, and treating a patient if they need to.

Every patient will have specific mobility issues that a physical therapist will need to diagnose with accuracy. That’s why it takes some time to qualify in this field, as you’ll soon find out. 

Once they then make an accurate diagnosis, a physical therapist then implements a tailored exercise program for the patient to follow. This may include various movements and techniques to help the patient restore better mobility.

How Long Is the Process?

Now we’ll answer the question in the title of this article: How long does it take to become a physical therapist?

The answer is it can take anywhere between six to seven years depending on your pathway to qualification. No matter what, you will need complete undergraduate learning. But, you can major in different subjects, as long as they fit within PT training prerequisites on a CAPTE-accredited program.

Becoming a physical therapist after studying for an undergraduate degree tends to take seven years in total. This is because it’s typical for an undergraduate degree to be four years in length. And then the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program you need to take will be about 3 years long, which makes the seven years in total.

Another shorter route to consider is an all-encompassing Freshman’s DPT program that would last for six years. Within this program, you achieve a bachelor’s and then go on to qualify as a Doctor of Physical Therapy. So you shave a year off choosing this pathway to qualification.

Whichever route you decide to take, it will be challenging. That’s why we recommend you get all the help you can get, especially before your exams and testing. A great way to do this is with reputable coaching and learning services like what offers.

Physical Therapy Careers

So once you are a qualified physical therapist, how do you find a job? Well, choosing a career path in physical therapy can be tricky because there are so many fascinating routes to take!

We’ll now touch upon some careers which you can aim for if you wish to qualify as a physical therapist:

Recreational Therapist

If you follow this line of physical therapy, you’ll have a passion for implementing recreational activities to help your patients heal. One of the benefits of this therapy type is that it can also help improve mental health, as well as physical.

Furthermore, the therapy can help patients become more social and active in their community. Some examples of recreational activities a therapist might prescribe are dancing, yoga, aqua aerobics, and much more.

Exercise Physiologist

As an exercise physiologist, your main goal will be to help people achieve their fitness and sporting goals. To do this, you first assess them with physical tests and forms of exercise.

Then, once you have all the info on a person, you will then be able to design an exercise routine that’s personal to the patient or client. Many Exercise physiologists work together with other physical therapists.

Physical Therapy Consultant

Physical therapy consultancy isn’t an entry-level career, but one that you could strive for after gaining experience. The job entails offering consulting services to companies that require feedback and input regarding physical therapy.

For instance, you might help in all manner of ways such as suggesting good software to use, advising on biomechanics, or quite simply understanding different patient requirements. Also, with the right experience, you could even help with the design of prosthetics, for example.

Orthopedic Physical Therapist

These types of physical therapists deal with musculoskeletal issues in patients. So if a patient has orthopedic issues, you help them with therapy and treatments to get stronger and reduce their pain.

What is the orthopedic system? It’s related to a person’s bones, muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. A specialist in this area of physical therapy will tend to use exercises and manipulation to achieve results.

Pediatric Physical Therapist

If you love children, then becoming a pediatric physical therapist is a smart move. This involves you helping and treating anyone under the age of eighteen. 

One great challenge with this job is that you will be dealing with patients that are continually growing. Thus, you will need to gain specialist knowledge of physical child development, right through to near-adult teenagers. 

However, it will be well worth the effort to pursue this career path. It has to be one of the most rewarding jobs out there as you get to improve children’s lives!

Strive to Become a Physical Therapist

After reading this, are you interested in taking the next steps in your career?

If you are searching for an amazing life challenge and a career path that will bless you with powers to help people in amazing ways, become a physical therapist. You won’t regret it!

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