Physical therapists help people regain mobility due to injury or illness and prevent loss of mobility despite disease and aging. Excellent job prospects await those with a physical therapy degree or physical therapy certification.
Physical Therapy Programs: How to Decide Which One Is Right for You
Physical therapists entering the field need either a master's degree or a doctorate degree. Some registered nurses or nurse health practitioners also go on to specialize as physical therapist nurses. Regardless of the specialty, graduate physical therapy degrees require coursework in: biology, anatomy and physiology, cellular histology, exercise physiology, neuroscience, biomechanics, behavioral science, radiology and imaging, pharmacology, and pathology.
To become a physical therapy assistant, you need an associate's degree from a physical therapy program. Physical therapy aides generally receive on-the-job training and are not required to have a degree. Physical therapy certification or licensure is required in every state for physical therapists and some physical therapy assistants. While requirements for physical therapy certification vary state-to-state, you must graduate from an accredited physical therapy program to be eligible for licensure. Physical therapist nurses must also be licensed RNs.
Earnings Outlook: Physical Therapists, Physical Therapy Assistants, Physical Therapy Aides
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average 2008 salaries for physical therapy professionals were as follows:
- Physical Therapist: $72,790
- Physical Therapist Assistant:$46,140
- Physical Therapy Aide: $23,760
- Registered Nurse: $62,450
If you like helping others get a move on and have the dedication it takes to earn your degree, consider becoming a physical therapist.