Physical Therapy Schools
If you are seriously interested in a satisfying, high paying career in physical therapy, then you need to find the physical therapy schools that are right for you.
The top physical therapy schools will provide you with the specific education required to become either a Physical Therapist (PT) or a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA).
Selecting the proper school will also be instrumental in helping you prepare for and pass the physical therapy national licensing examination, required in almost all states. Student loans and financial aid are available for physical therapy school students.
A physical therapist aide generally doesn’t need any specific education, and all training usually takes place on the job.
Physical Therapy School Requirements
All Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants are required to obtain a degree from accredited physical therapy schools or a recognized Physical Therapist program before they can take the national licensing examination. Passing this exam is mandatory for becoming a practicing PT in all 50 states and is required by almost all states for becoming a PTA.
The degree requirements differ between PT and PTA and also between the schools themselves. Some states require additional testing or licensing to practice in those states. You can find a list of Physical Therapy schools by State here, or a list of Physical Therapy Assistant schools by State here.
The physical therapy school requirements vary from state to state, so make sure you review them carefully before pursuing any particular school.
Physical Therapy Schools – Accreditation Is Important
When considering specific physical therapy schools, make sure they are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), www.capteonline.org, which is the only organization recognized by the US Department of Education for accrediting physical therapy programs. There are over 200 accredited schools nationwide.
Graduation from a CAPTE accredited program is required to take the licensing exam. It is also required to provide physical therapy services to patients who are on Medicare.
Physical Therapy Online School Programs
Some online colleges do offer part of their curriculum via online classes. However, due to onsite “hands on” lab requirements of some classes or offsite workplace experience requirements, online classes are not offered by very many accredited programs and are typically only for a few classes.
Once you’ve earned your degree, however, many of the required continuing education classes can be taken online.
Find Physical Therapy Schools Where You Want To Work
It can be advantageous to get your training within the state that you plan to work in. These schools that offer physical therapy programs will generally have a better sense of what is required to find work within their specific state and may even be able to help you contact available physical therapists when it’s time to get your required work experience. Follow this link for a list of Physical Therapy Schools by State
For example, if you live in or are planning to work in Texas, you should considering focusing your initial research only on physical therapy schools in Texas.
Physical Therapy Schooling Costs
For Physical Therapist training, costs vary widely depending on two main factors, the city and state in which the school is located, and whether it’s a public or a private school. Even costs within public or private schools can vary tremendously.
To obtain a Doctorate degree (DPT), a public school will generally cost between $18,000 and $92,000. Costs for private schools run between $55,000 and $150,000. Of course, these costs do not include living expenses such as room and board.
The least expensive schooling will usually be from a public college in the state where you already live. Public colleges typically receive subsidies from their applicable state government and local communities, so in-state residents receive the benefit of lower tuition costs compared with those who have come from another state (or even country) to attend.
Physical Therapy Jobs Outlook
Most careers tend to fluctuate over the years, and physical therapy jobs are no different. Currently, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, the demand for Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants is good and expected to grow significantly over the next 5-10 years.
The increasing population of seniors is adding to the demand for physical therapy. Yesteryear’s elderly may have been willing to put up with the aches and pains associated with the “golden years”, but today’s seniors are more aware of the advantages of physical therapy which can help sustain or even increase their mobility and enjoyment of life.
In addition to the growing geriatric population, there is also an increasing demand for specialty Physical Therapists. The increasing numbers of baby boomers who are at risk for heart attacks and stroke, are adding to the need for cardiac and other targeted physical rehabilitation specialists.
Insurance companies have recently changed how they reimburse for physical therapy services which has increased patient access to these services and thereby increased demand even more.
Physical Therapy Salaries
Salaries in the physical therapy field can vary greatly depending on location (city and state) and whether it’s private practice or in a clinic or hospital.
In 2010, a Physical Therapist salary typically ranged from $64,000 to $90,000 with about 10% making less than $53,000 and about 10% making more than $107,000.
The latest government statistics for a Physical Therapist Assistant salary is from 2008 and typically ranged from $37,000 to $55,000 with about 10% making less than $29,000 and about 10% making more than $64,000.
Research PT & PTA Schools Online First
It’s easiest to start your search for the best physical therapy schools by looking at various physical therapy programs and locations online. You can filter through a large number of possibilities fairly quickly once you determine which career path you want to pursue (PT or PTA), which schools will work best for you geographically, and which ones offer the pricing/financing that works for you.
It is recommended to look at several schools and complete their “information request” forms to get more complete information about what they have to offer and which schools for physical therapy will ultimately work out best for you and your plans.
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