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How to become a Physical Therapist

The first step in becoming a physical therapist is to complete a bachelor's degree in a health-related field. Complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Then you will need to pass the National Physical Therapist Examination (NPTE). Apply to a clinical residency program to receive additional training and gain experience. Finally, you will apply to become a board-certified specialist in a clinical specialty areas offered by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.

How to become: Physical Occupational Therapist · Outpatient Therapist · Staff Therapist · Physical Therapist Assistant · Physical Therapy Aide
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What skills help Physical Therapists find jobs?

  • Acute care
  • Analysis skills
  • Bilingual
  • Care plans
  • Communication skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Computer skills
  • Customer service
  • Discharge planning
  • Documentation review
  • English
  • HIPAA
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Career progression for Physical Therapist

Education levels for Physical Therapists

Based on the requirements of Physical Therapist job openings on Indeed in the United States within the last three years.
required level of educationpercent of job openings
Bachelor's degree46.2%
Doctoral degree35.0%
Master's degree12.1%
Associate's degree3.4%
High school diploma or GED3.3%
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Expected salary by experience

Based on resume data from Indeed users who reported working as a Physical Therapist in the United States within the last three years.
Years of experienceAnnual salary in USD
0 - 4$61,900
4 - 8$70,400
8 - 12$77,400
12 - 16$84,800
16 - 20$87,700
20 - 24$90,000
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Common qualifications for Physical Therapists

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  • certificationPhysical Therapy License
  • certificationCompact State Nurse License
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  • certificationOccupational Therapy License
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