APTA Background Sheet 2008
Attention Consumers: Need a PT? Utilize these services: Choosing
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The Physical Therapist
Physical therapists (PTs) are health care professionals who diagnose
and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very oldest, who
have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit
their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily
PTs examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment
techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore
function, and prevent disability. In addition, PTs work with individuals
to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness-
and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active
Physical therapists provide care for people in a variety of settings,
including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health
agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and
nursing homes. State licensure is required in each state in which a
physical therapist practices.
All PTs must receive a graduate degree from an accredited physical
therapist program before taking the national licensure examination that
allows them to practice. The majority of programs offer the doctor of
physical therapy (DPT) degree.
WHAT DO PHYSICAL THERAPISTS EARN?
More than 170,000 physical therapists are licensed in the U.S. today.
The median salary for a physical therapist is $75,000 depending on
position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic location,
and practice setting.
WHERE DO PHYSICAL THERAPISTS PRACTICE?
Although many physical therapists practice in hospitals, over 80
percent practice in:
- Outpatient clinics or offices
- Inpatient rehabilitation facilities
- Skilled nursing, extended care, or subacute facilities
- Education or research centers
- Industrial, workplace, or other occupational environments
- Fitness centers and sports training facilities
WHAT ARE THE EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING A PT?
The minimum educational requirement is a post-baccalaureate degree
from an accredited education program. While some programs offer a
master's degree, a growing majority of programs offer the Doctor of
Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Currently, 199 colleges and universities
nationwide offer professional physical therapist education programs;
85.7% offer the DPT and the remaining programs are planning to
WHAT ARE THE LICENSURE REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING A PT? After
graduation, candidates must pass a state-administered national exam.
Other requirements for physical therapy practice vary from state to
state according to physical therapy practice acts or state regulations
governing physical therapy.
WHAT IS THE EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK FOR PHYSICAL THERAPY?
With just a 0.2 percent unemployment rate, physical therapists are
now experiencing the best employment conditions since enactment of the
Balanced Budget Act of 1997.
For more information on a career in physical therapy, click
here, or contact APTA Public Relations, 1111 North Fairfax Street,
Alexandria, VA 22314-1488, telephone: 703/706-3248, fax:
[Last updated: 01/17/08 | Contact: email@example.com]