5 Steps to Kickstart Your Career as a Licensed Physical Therapist

Imagine waking up every morning with the opportunity to help others become more mobile while alleviating their pain. Most people with this opportunity cannot wait to go to work and help others improve their overall quality of life. They work as physical therapists and help these men and women restore proper body functioning while promoting wellness. 

Anyone passionate about helping others live their best lives might become a licensed physical therapist. They love empowering others while facilitating healing and changing lives for the better. While becoming a licensed therapist isn’t easy, it is ultimately worth it. What must a person do to work in this field? 


Before studying to become a physical therapist, a person must have a strong background in the sciences. They should study anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics when working toward a bachelor’s degree. Degrees they may wish to pursue include kinesiology and exercise science, as both provide them with a solid understanding of the human body and how it works. 

Internships and volunteer opportunities are excellent ways to learn more about a career in this field. They give students hands-on experience so they can take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to real-life situations. Any person who wishes to work as a physical therapist will need a bachelor’s degree.

Choosing a School

Students who want to work as physical therapists must research different schools to find one that meets their needs and will allow them to achieve their goals. When comparing schools, they must examine the faculty, accreditation status, curriculum, and clinical opportunities. They must also visit each school being considered and attend an informational session. They should talk with students currently enrolled in the program to learn more about what makes the program good and where improvements are needed. 

Students should know the admission requirements for the different physical therapy programs, the application deadlines, and what is needed to apply. Ask about the prerequisites needed to enter the program. Learning this information during the undergraduate years allows a student to get a leg up on applying for the program. 

Graduate School

Once students earn their Bachelor’s degree, they are ready to participate in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. This program is challenging and takes three years to complete for most students. The program’s students complete coursework, participate in labs, and participate in clinical rotations. 

Each student must find a program that aligns with their goals and values. When searching for this program, students must evaluate factors such as specialization opportunities and clinical affiliations. Classes the student will take in graduate school include manual therapy techniques, evidence-based practice, and therapeutic exercise. 

Clinical Experience

Every student in a DPT program must gain clinical experience through participation in clinical rotations. These rotations allow students to become proficient and confident as physical therapists. They also get the opportunity to work with patients while being supervised, exposing them to different patient populations and health conditions. 


When the student graduates from the DPT program, they must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) to obtain a license to practice. This exam confirms the student’s ability to meet competency standards, enabling them to work with patients safely and effectively.

Becoming a physical therapist isn’t easy. It takes dedication and effort. However, men and women who succeed in becoming DPTs feel the process is worth the result. They love helping others better their lives every day, and their work makes a meaningful impact. 

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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