Physical therapy has evolved into one of the most rapidly growing professions in the United States. What began as a treatment for wounded World War soldiers and polio victims has evolved into a profession that provides rehabilitative treatment to people on many different levels. Primary focus areas in the physical therapy job sector include pediatrics, orthopedics, sports medicine, and injury and/or surgical rehabilitation. It is easy to see why an online physical therapy degree is so popular among those seeking a personally rewarding career choice.

Physical Therapy Associates Course Information

The associate degree in physical therapy and the assistant training program provide students with the qualifications to work as clinical assistants for certified physical therapists. Generally these 1 or 2-year degrees do not apply toward any advanced degrees the student pursues after graduation. The online physical therapy degree teaches the skills necessary to work in doctors’ offices and hospitals, assisting patients in recovering from injury, disability, and illness. The associate degree is the only undergraduate degree allowing graduates to work as assistants in the physical therapy profession.

Physical Therapy Bachelor Course Information

At one time there was a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy; however, at the end of the 1990’s the BS was phased out and replaced by the masters and doctorate degrees. Some schools offer a combination BS/MS degree, but graduates of the BS portion of this joint degree program are not qualified to practice in the field of physical therapy. The dual degree, also referred to as 4+2 or 4+1, offers an accelerated path for earning both degrees. Some students pursue a BS in biology instead and then proceed into the higher level physical therapy degree programs.

Physical Therapy Masters Course Information

The online physical therapy degree at the masters level is the recommended industry standard by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), although there are some job positions that require the advanced doctorate degree in addition to the masters. One of the most common programs at this level is the MPT diploma (Master of Physical Therapy). Graduates of the masters program often branch into an area of specialization such as sports medicine, orthopedics, women’s health, or geriatrics. Many masters level programs require an internship in a clinical setting.

Physical Therapy Doctorate Course Information

The APTA set a goal that, by the year 2020, all physical therapists should hold the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree (DPT). Some online physical therapy degree plans offer 1-2 year programs and are tailored for licensed employed therapists. It is possible to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy with only a bachelor’s, even in an unrelated discipline and no clinical experience, however, this is considered a lower level degree because the program is less intensive than other DPT degrees and requires only 3 years to complete. Those wishing to teach will need an EdD in physical therapy.

Physical Therapy Degree Career Outlook

Students completing an online physical therapy degree program must pass the NPTE (National Physical Therapist Examination), along with other state certifications. The appeal of a physical therapy career is that it offers graduates a choice in many different applications, such as working with children, the aging, athletes, or the disabled. As continued advancements show, its effects are beneficial to patients, so more insurance companies will be willing to pick up the tab. Median level incomes range from around $54,000 in hospitals to $59,000 in private physician offices and clinics.

Tremendous growth is expected in the physical therapy profession, making it a smart choice for those wishing to pursue a lucrative and incredibly rewarding career in medicine. An aging baby boomer generation means an increase in rehabilitative treatment. Advanced medical technology is resulting in more saved lives among trauma victims and those with birth defects , adding to the need for physical therapists, so its career outlook is very promising.

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