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How to Become a Physiotherapist in the United States

Tuesday | November 28, 2017 | by Chris Foerster

how to become a physiotherapist in the U.S.

Are you looking to have a lucrative career in the healthcare industry by becoming a physiotherapist in the United States? Then continue reading. This blog post will provide recommendations for what you need to do to start a career as a physiotherapist in the U.S.

A physiotherapy career is perfect for you if you always dreamed of helping people afflicted by a disability, an injury, or an illness by means of a more holistic approach. In holistic care, the entire person is taken into account rather than just small parts, including not only the body but also the mind and emotions.

Being a physiotherapist, you are not just a healer but an educator as well—every session entails teaching the patient how to be an active participant in their healing. In some cases, you may also be involved with service management and research, depending on where you want to take your career.

However, prior to having a lucrative and rewarding career as a physiotherapist in the U.S., you must first prepare yourself for a challenging yet highly gratifying future, and it starts by knowing how to become an excellent physiotherapist. Keep reading to learn the requirements for becoming a physiotherapist in the U.S.

Completing the Program

To become a physiotherapist in the U.S., you should successfully complete a physical therapy program. Yes, a program in physical therapy—in the U.S., physiotherapy and physical therapy are practically one and the same. Not to complicate the matter, there are related programs, such as the Sports & Rehabilitation Therapist degree, which should not be confused with a physical therapy degree. In the U.S., though, being a physiotherapist means you are a physical therapist.

Completing any physical therapy program is not enough—what you need to do is opt for one that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Before you enroll at a certain learning institution, do your homework and ensure the program offered is accredited.

Requirements to Qualify

Once you have confirmed through your research that the physical therapy program is indeed accredited by CAPTE, it is time to get in touch with the learning institution offering the said program to ask about the various requirements for you to be admitted as a physiotherapy student.

You will need a bachelor’s degree to qualify for a graduate program in physical therapy. Some schools do not care what discipline or field you studied for your undergraduate degree, whereas others require your undergraduate degree be in something related to the healthcare industry, such as nursing, nutrition, biology, anatomy, or exercise science.

Most physical therapy graduate programs in the U.S. require you to have, during your undergraduate years, a prescribed number of prerequisite courses belonging to the sciences and human health in order for you to qualify and start your education and training as a physiotherapist.

Securing a Lucrative Future

Once you have completed the physical therapy graduate program successfully, you can then start attaining your dream of having a physiotherapy career in the U.S. These days, more and more people with physical impairments or disabilities due to injuries or illnesses are turning to all-natural and holistic approaches to healing.

Employment and Salary

The great part of being a physiotherapist is that there are many companies and organizations in the United States you may apply to for a job. You can seek employment at institutions that specialize in the prevention and management of pain and physical impairments or disabilities brought about by injuries or medical conditions.

In the future, you may be able to work in a hospital or rehabilitation center. You may also provide your expertise at a multidisciplinary clinic or continuing care facility. Spas, fitness gyms, health clubs, sports facilities—all of these institutions need physiotherapists, so you may apply at any one of them after completing the physical therapy graduate program.

Your salary as a physiotherapist will depend on all sorts of factors, such as where you work, the number of years you have spent in the healthcare industry, and your expertise level.

Being Your Own Boss

While you can work as a physiotherapist for a facility, company, or organization, it is also possible for you to become your own boss once you have successfully finished the physical therapy graduate program. For instance, you can open a spa, rehabilitation center, or recreation facility.

If you are running your own business, chances are that your work schedule will not be that different from that of someone who is employed as a physiotherapist. Usually, physiotherapists in the U.S. work during normal business hours on weekdays, but it will still depend on the respective business hours of the place in which they work.

Future Career Advancements

As a physiotherapist in the U.S., there is always the opportunity to advance your career. By demonstrating how competent, skillful, and knowledgeable of a physiotherapist you are, you can obtain managerial or supervisory positions.

Some physiotherapists in the U.S. opt for teaching positions, enabling them to be a part of the noble industry of helping to shape the future of soon-to-be physiotherapists or other healthcare providers. Some physiotherapists may choose to open their own clinic or facility providing physiotherapy services.

However, the world of physiotherapy is always evolving and advancing, what with the unrelenting revolutions in health sciences and care. And for this reason, physiotherapists in the U.S. should always strive to have their skills and knowledge continually upgraded through post-graduation continuing education programs.

Now that you know the basics of becoming a physiotherapist in the U.S., you can be more proactive in achieving your physiotherapy career.

Further Reading

How to Start Your Physiotherapy Career in Canada

Chris Foerster is the Digital Marketing Manager at Fremont College in Cerritos, California.