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Physical Therapist

Career data updated last on 10/15/2014
Physical Therapist Physical therapy (PT) is a health profession whose primary purpose is the promotion of optimal human health and function through the application of scientific principles to prevent, assess, correct or alleviate acute or prolonged movement dysfunction. Persons who are disabled as a result of pain, disease, injury or developmental delay are evaluated by a physical therapist who then plans and administers an appropriate therapeutic program. Individualized programs may include: evaluation of musculoskeletal, neurological, and/or cardiopulmonary function; use of specialized treatment modalities such as heat, cold, massage and electrical stimulation; instruction in advanced therapeutic exercise techniques designed to improve strength and functional mobility;education of the patient in methods to facilitate balance, coordination and gait;establishment of programs in sports medicine, cardiovascular fitness and industrial rehabilitation.
Salary $35.19/hr - $73,190 annually
Significant Points Employment is expected to increase faster than the average, as growth in the number of individuals with disabilities or limited function spurs demand for therapy services.
Specializations Physical therapists may choose to focus in these specialization areas:
  • pediatrics
  • geriatrics
  • orthopedics
  • sports medicine
  • neurology
  • cardiopulmonary
Work Environment Physical therapists are employed in hospitals; community health centers, corporate or industrial health centers, sports facilities, rehabilitation centers; extended care facilities such as nursing homes; home health agencies; public and private schools; private practice; research institutions, pediatric centers; and colleges/universities. Most full-time physical therapists work a 40-hour week; some worked evenings and weekends to fit their patients’ schedules. More than 1 in 5 physical therapists work part time.
High School Prep General college preparation is recommended with a focus on premedical courses. Students should successfully complete courses in social sciences, biology, mathematics (bearing in mind that calculus is now being required by a number of Master's level programs), physics, English and chemistry. Students should investigate accredited Physical Therapy Programs for admission requirements and plan education accordingly. They should begin volunteering to work in a local hospital or other health care setting to strengthen interpersonal skills and develop an understanding of what physical therapy is and the needs and capabilities of patients and physical therapists.
Academic Requirements Currently there are two ways to become a physical therapist: a master's degree and a professional doctorate in physical therapy (DPT). Studies cover anatomy and physiology, skeletal and neuromuscular disorders, therapeutic techniques, research, administration and clinical practice. Graduates of accredited programs must complete a licensing examination given by the Division of Regulatory Agencies in Colorado.


Regis University
Doctoral Degree Doctoral    On-line program available On-line program available
University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Medical Campus
Doctoral Degree Doctoral

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