What kind of credentials do physical therapists have?
Although they are not medical doctors, physical therapists are highly educated professionals with an extensive knowledge of anatomy and kinesiology, or the science of movement. Although at one time a master’s degree was sufficient, since 2015, all accredited physical therapy programs in the United States culminate in a doctoral degree (DPT-Doctor of Physical Therapy). These programs are highly competitive and require a strong background in science.
Physical therapists must also hold state licensure. Each state sets its own requirements, but in general, the candidate must hold a DPT degree and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. Some states require additional testing, and some require continuing education courses to maintain licensure.
Board certification is voluntary. The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties offers nine separate certification areas, from sports to geriatrics. To become board-eligible, a candidate must hold a current license and have completed at least 2,000 hours of clinical practice in the desired specialty. Board certification requires eligible candidates to pass an exam in the are of specialization. Certification is valid for 10 years.
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