Today there is an increased demand for physical therapists, one of the fastest growing segments of the medical and healthcare industry.
It has been estimated that through the year 2020, general demand for medical professionals will continue to rise about 14% each year, but according to recent data by the US Department of Labor demand for physical therapists will increase as much as 39%.
This means that there has never been a better time for attending one of the 211 accredited physical therapy colleges in the US, as well as the many others in Canada, the UK and other countries.
With so much opportunity ahead, the physical therapy field is growing in leaps and bounds, providing an exciting professional landscape for students entering this field.
Accreditation is Everything with Physical Therapy Colleges
The profession of physical therapy has become a highly competitive one in recent years considering the many, newer therapies being developed and used today, health insurance companies changing outlook on these therapies, and increased demand for licensed PTs to perform them.
For this reason, students looking to enter the field should know ahead of time that while there are a vast number of new positions opening up every year, it is still important to attend the best program possible.
Employers will be looking for the cream of the crop each year, which will of course graduate from better, accredited physical therapy colleges.
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) are the main professional organizations in the US that involve themselves with ensuring the quality of approved physical therapy program offerings.
In the UK, it is the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy overseeing educational courses, and in Canada, the Physiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada (PEAC).
Physical Therapy Colleges and PT Licenses
Through these organizations, educational programs for the physical therapist are monitored to ensure they continue to deliver the highest quality of education to their students, that which is necessary in order to successfully pass the board-issued licensing examination (in the US) and to have success in the field.
Accreditation by these institutes allows students to be confident they will have access to the best education and training possible.
Prospective students are cautioned to verify accreditation of their school of choice by checking with the above-mentioned organizations in order to have the best professional opportunity once they have graduated college.
Failure to graduate an accredited physical therapy program will cause students to be ineligible to sit for their state licensing examination (in the US), which is required for employment as a PT, and may make them ineligible for certain employment opportunities depending on each country's employment requirements.
Acceptance to Physical Therapy Colleges is Hard Work … but Worth It
Given how competitive and selective the profession of physical therapy is today, getting accepted to an accredited program is not easy, either, but putting in the necessary effort is well worth it in the long run.
Physical therapists earn a respectable median salary of around $ 76,000 annually, but beyond that, they also tend to have some of the highest personal satisfaction levels with their job, which equates to a great way for people to spend their day.
If loving your job and being happy to go to work is a priority, becoming a physical therapist is one of the professions that will give you that, apparently.
Since not everyone is going to succeed in their college career in becoming a PT, it is important that prospective students be as prepared as possible for the challenges that lie ahead of them.
The application process for most accredited schools can be lengthy, with many requirements such as having a certificate in CPR, passing a background check and having previous clinical observation or volunteer experience at a PT facility.
Additionally, most schools require at least one, if not more than one, letters of recommendation from a physical therapy practitioner stating that the student is a good candidate for a PT program.
Academically, the requirements are steep. Many more people apply to physical therapy colleges each year than are accepted, and many times the reason is because of lack of preparation on the student's part.
Most PT schools recommend that students who may already have it in mind that they might consider a career as a physical therapist start early by taking higher level English, math and science classes in high school, and continue the same in their undergraduate schooling.
PT programs can usually provide a recommended curriculum for undergraduate students so they can complete as many required classes as possible before actually applying to the program, which will both increase their chance of acceptance and give the student more time to focus on technical courses if accepted.
Naturally, the students with the best grades and college preparatory exam scores (SAT, ACT, etc) overall will receive more consideration, too.
Those applying to an accredited physical therapy college need to be exemplary students in order for consideration, and even then there will still be a lot of competition. Preparation is the key to earning the best chance at acceptance, and that should start in the senior year of high school.
Those who work hard and make the cut, then graduate their PT programs, will be rewarded with a great career helping people, and the financial and personal successes that go along with it.