Physical therapists and physical therapy assistants have excellent career prospects in the United States. Physical therapists are licensed professionals that help patients recover from physical trauma or accidents. They work with patients to help restore flexibility, muscle strength, balance, and both long- and short-term relief from disability and disease.
Physical therapy assistants work with physical therapists to provide treatment and care. They are called upon to help patients exercise, or they may employ heat and cold treatments, stretching regimens, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound.
Physical Therapy Career Educational Requirements
Many physical therapists begin work as physical therapy assistants. The work allows them to evaluate the profession as well as gain practical experience in treating and evaluating patients. While some physical therapy assistants receive direct training on the job, many take two- and four-year undergraduate college or medical trade-school PT assisting programs.
Assistants should consider taking courses in anatomy, physiology, kinetics, sports medicine, biology, and chemistry. They'll also need to complete CPR training. Each state has its own licensing requirements for physical therapy assistants.
Physical therapists typically earn masters or doctoral degrees in qualifying for the profession. Upon completion of schooling, they're required to pass national and state (where applicable) licensing examinations. Additionally, physical therapists are required to maintain ongoing certifications, licensing, and education to stay current with their discipline.
Both physical therapists and assistants should have strong interpersonal skills since they work with patients experiencing pain and discomfort. The employment outlook for physical therapists over the next decade is solid, with a projected increase of jobs nearing 30 percent.
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