Becoming a Physical Therapist

Answering Your Questions about Becoming a Physical Therapist


Researching any possible career choices often leads to more questions than answers.

Your choice to consider a sports medicine career now has you asking many questions about becoming a Physical Therapist.  This article should help to answer many of your important questions.

How Long Does It Take to Become A Physical Therapist?

The easy answer is approximately 6 to 7 years, plus possibly a little longer if you choose a specialty or need to participate in a residency.

The more complex answer is it depends on your course.  Here are a few of the requirements and options:

  • 4 Year Bachelor Degree is a Prerequisite (See exception below)
  • 2 to 2.5 Year Masters Degree in Physical Therapy.   (Limited availability, being phased out.)
  • 3 Year Doctorate Program (This is the most common offering today and soon will be the only option.)
  • 3+3 Program – There are a few Universities who offer a hybrid program which can cut a year off the Doctorate Program.

Keep in mind many people take longer than 4 years to complete a physical therapy bachelors degree.  The 3+3 Physical Therapy Program is a unique system.   You complete 3 years of your bachelor’s program and then start in an accelerated program.  It completes your bachelors and pushes you through the Doctorate program in an additional 3 years.

Do not undertake this program lightly in the hopes of blasting through your physical therapist degree It adds more intensity and high-speed learning.

What Does It Take In Becoming A Physical Therapist

How Do I Become A Physical Therapist?

This question starts with many of the factors we just discussed.  You must complete your Bachelors Degree, Doctorate Program, and then comes the next challenge.  Most states require you to pass either a national or local license examination before beginning your career.


VISIT HERE – to see a detailed list of Physical Therapy Schools across the USA.


What does it Take in Becoming a Physical Therapist?

The main ingredients you must have to become a Physical Therapist are as follows:

  • Compassion
  • Willingness to Learn
  • Discipline in Studies
  • Professionalism
  • Patience
  • Ability to Communicate with People

Most of these skills will be reinforced in your studies, but you should feel they are part of your core personality as you get started.

How Do You Become a Physical Therapist?

This comes back to our questions about education.  It will require approximately 7 years of university studies, passing a physical therapy licensing exam, and in some states you may be required to participate in a residency program.

Becoming a Physical Therapist

The Education Needed in Becoming A Physical Therapist

Your education to become a Physical Therapist ideally starts in high school.  If you are still in high school make sure to focus on classes in the following categories:

  • Sciences – Especially Biology and Anatomy
  • Math
  • Business – Starting to understand basic business principles is important if you choose to start your own practice.
  • Physical Education – Learning to take care of your own body will aid you in understanding how to care for others.
  • Speech – Improving communication skills always aids in dealing with patients.

As you prepare to start your Physical Therapy Bachelors Degree with the intent of pursuing a physical therapy assistant career or even your post-graduate education as a sports therapist, consult closely with the Physical Therapy department of the university.  Choose a degree program which is designed to move you towards your goals which can include:

  • Physiology
  • Pre-Med 
  • Biology
  • Other Science Majors

What Are  The Requirements in Becoming a Physical Therapist?

Physical Therapy ProgramThe primary requirements in becoming a Physical Therapist are all of the aforementioned educational and licensing requirements.  Each state has rules and regulations and it is important you check with the state you wish to work in.

Choosing Colleges for Physical Therapy within the state will assure you are given an education focused toward the state’s requirements and commonly surrounding states.

One of the more important requirements is your own attitude.  This is not a course of study which is considered easy.  You will be focusing on many courses students often find challenging including biology, physiology, sociology, chemistry and many other science related courses.  If you come into your studies with an attitude of confidence and persistence you will succeed.

The rewards for fulfilling all the requirements in this profession include high Physical Therapy salaries, prestige in your community, and a career which helps people.   The biggest reward is often the thank you notes, sighs of relief, and smiles from patients.

The career is filled with challenges which start in the educational process but once you step through the challenges to becoming a Physical Therapist the rewards will last a lifetime.