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All States require physical therapists to pass a licensure
exam after graduating from an accredited physical therapist
educational program before they can practice.

According to the [[American Physical Therapy Association]],
there were 189 accredited physical therapist programs in
1999. Of the accredited programs, 24 offered bachelor’s
degrees, 157 offered master’s degrees, and 8 offered
doctoral degrees. By 2002, all physical therapist programs
seeking accreditation will be required to offer degrees at
the master’s degree level and above, in accordance with the
[[Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy

Physical therapist programs start with basic science courses
such as [[biology]], [[chemistry]], and [[physics]], and then introduce
specialized courses such as [[biomechanics]], [[neuroanatomy]],
[[human growth and development]], manifestations of disease,
examination techniques, and therapeutic procedures.
Besides classroom and laboratory instruction, students
receive supervised clinical experience. Individuals who
have a 4-year degree in another field and want to be a
physical therapist, should enroll in a master’s or a doctoral
level physical therapist educational program.

Competition for entrance into physical therapist educational
programs is very intense, so interested students should
attain superior grades in high school and college, especially
in science courses. Courses useful when applying to
physical therapist educational programs include anatomy,
biology, chemistry, social science, mathematics, and
physics. Before granting admission, many professional
education programs require experience as a volunteer in a
physical therapy department of a hospital or clinic.

Physical therapists should have strong interpersonal skills
to successfully educate patients about their physical therapy
treatments. They should also be compassionate and posses
a desire to help patients. Similar traits are also needed to
interact with the patient’s family.

Physical therapists are expected to continue professional
development by participating in continuing education
courses and workshops. A number of States require
continuing education to maintain licensure.