What is a Physical Therapist?

“Physical therapists (PTs) are health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very oldest, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.

PTs examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

Physical therapists provide care for people in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and nursing homes. State licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices.” (Source: "Role of a Physical Therapist," American Physical Therapy Association

Quick Facts: Physical Therapists
2021 Median Pay $95,620 per year
$45.97 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Doctoral or professional degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2021 238,800
Job Outlook, 2021-31 17% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2021-31 40,400



From U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm

How do I become a Physical Therapist?

Earn your BA at Rutgers, major in any subject you enjoy, and take prerequisites for PT school as part of your major or elective/core requirements. During your senior year, apply to DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) programs via PTCAS (Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service). Here is the PTCAS link: https://www.apta.org/cas/ptcas


How long are DPT programs?

Most programs are about 3 years long.


What prerequisite courses do I need to take to apply to DPT programs?

Different schools will have different requirements. You can find a list that compares prerequisite requirements for many DPT programs here.

Most common courses required are:

  • Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2with lab
  • Biology 1 and 2 with lab (not botany or zoology)
  • General Chemistry 1 and 2 with lab
  • General Physics 1 and 2 with lab
  • Psychology
  • Statistics


How much do DPT programs cost?

Costs vary, depending on the school and length of the program, ranging from $30,000-$130,000.



What GPA do I need to get accepted into a DPT program?

Requirements vary from program to program but the average undergraduate GPA for students admitted to DPT programs is around 3.5


What standardized tests to I need to take to apply to DPT programs?

Most DPT programs require a GRE score and have minimum acceptable scores and deadlines by which the test must be taken, as well as individual policies about how scores from multiple GRE tests are evaluated. You can compare GRE requirements among DPT programs here. 


What other requirements are there for DPT programs?

  • PT observation (average number of hours is 25 - 200)
  • References (letters of recommendation)


Where can I find more information?