Ever thought about becoming a physical therapist? This article will outline the prerequisite steps to doing just that. You will find a simplified guide to becoming a PT, from applying to college and completing the prerequisite undergraduate and postgraduate degrees to preparing for the licensing examination.

Are you about to apply for college admission and ultimately want to become a physical therapist? There are some important things you need to know. A good college application is imperative to getting accepted and taking the first step towards a career in physical therapy. The most important factors in a college application are a good academic record, a well written and constructed application essay, good results on your SAT or ACT test, participation in extracurricular activities such as community service, volunteer work or participation in organised sporting clubs. Lastly a letter of recommendation from a teacher, mentor or coach supplements your application well.

The next step to becoming a physical therapist is completing a bachelor degree. There are some prerequisite subjects that you must complete in your undergraduate studies in order to be accepted into most postgraduate PT programs. These subjects allow you to gain a good base of knowledge leading into physical therapy school. The most common prerequisite subjects are chemistry, physics, anatomy and/or physiology, statistics, social and behavioral sciences, biology and math. A degree in exercise or health science will usually include all of the prerequisite subjects required and typically takes four years to complete.

Once you have completed your undergraduate studies and have made sure to take all the prerequisite subjects, you can now apply for PT school. Every physical therapy program must be accredited by the Commission of Accreditation for Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). You may only sit the final exam if your program is accredited by CAPTE. So be sure it is! Of the 210 programs across the U.S., over 200 are a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), with the rest either a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) or Master of Science in Physical Therapy (MSPT) program. To help simplify and facilitate the application process, the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) has been developed. This service allows applicants to complete a simple, user friendly, web based form and one set of materials to apply to as many programs as they wish. Keep in mind, however, that not all CAPTE accredited physical therapy programs use the PTCAS application service. You can apply directly to those schools that do not use the PTCAS and follow their specific instructions.

Lastly, on completing your two year physical therapy postgraduate program, you must sit a licensing exam called the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). The exam is designed to determine if you have the knowledge and skill required to practice physical therapy at an entry level. The NPTE is a 5 hour computer based exam composed of 5 sections each containing 50 multiple choice questions. To pass you need to score more than 600 out of a possible 800. If you fail the NPTE you can take the test up to three times in a 12 month period.

So there you have it – the prerequisite steps to becoming a physical therapist. Study hard and follow this guide and you will be rewarded with an exciting and lucrative career.

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