About the Profession

from "APTA Background Sheet The Physical Therapist: A Professional Profile"

Who are Physical Therapists?

Physical therapists, or PTs, are health care professionals who examine and provide interventions for people with health problems resulting from injury or disease. PTs assess joint motion, muscle strength and endurance, function of heart and lungs, and performance of activities required in daily living, among other responsibilities. Interventions include therapeutic exercise, cardiovascular endurance training, and training in activities of daily living. More than 120,000 physical therapists are licensed in the U.S. today, treating nearly 1 million people every day. The median salary for a physical therapist is $51,000 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 acute care or sub-acute care hospitals, more than 65% practice in private physical therapy offices, community health centers, industrial health centers, sports facilities, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health agencies, schools or pediatric centers; work in research institutions; or teach in colleges and universities.

What are the Educational Requirements for Becoming a Physical Therapist?

The minimum educational requirement is a post-baccalaureate degree from an accredited education program. Over 70% of programs offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Currently, more than 200 colleges and universities nationwide offer professional education programs in physical therapy.

What are the Licensure Requirements for Becoming a Physical Therapist?

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. Information may be obtained by contacting your state licensure board. You can link to the Federation here, which will have listing of agencies.