California Physical Therapy Schools.
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California Physical Therapy Schools.

How to Become a Physical Therapist

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings and conditions, from private offices and clinics to large hospitals or even sport teams. As part of their job, they are required to help people conduct therapeutic exercises so they can recuperate from accidents, injuries, or surgeries.

Physical therapists are in charge of deciding an action plan that includes specific exercises, help with posture, and resolving issues of pain and muscle performance. Some physical therapists specialize in a particular area of rehabilitation, such as cardiopulmonary, neurologic, or pediatrics, while others work more on diagnostic and follow-up than on the procedural treatment.

Becoming a physical therapist requires a certain attitude and personality. Aside from compassion and a desire to help others, therapists should also have excellent interpersonal communication skills, as they will act not only as medical professionals but also as educators, teaching both patients and their families the necessary techniques to improve their current condition and avoid problems in the future.

Geting a Degree in Physical Therapy

1. Basic Courses

No matter where the study is chosen and through which methods (online or full-time), there are some basic courses that must be taken by anyone interested in getting a degree in physical therapy.

  • Anatomy
  • Physics
  • Human growth and development
  • Kinesiology
  • Chemistry
  • Human neurobiology
  • Therapeutic procedures

All courses include both theory and practice and most states require an internship period with a local hospital or clinic as a requirement for graduation.

2. State License Exam

Once graduated, you are required to pass a state license exam before being allowed to practice physical therapy. Requirements vary by state and may be simpler to begin working as an assistant physical therapist. Otherwise, look up rules and regulations online at sites like

Most coursework required to become a physical therapist cannot be completed online, unless the educational institution can provide some kind of local link where students can take the necessary practicum courses to become proficient at their job. Still, there are lots of online degree options for those looking at a career in physical therapy.

Penn Foster College, on the other hand, offers a physical therapy aid course, which is officially a certification rather than a degree, but can still be useful to those looking to get started in the field. More common are master's and doctorates in physical therapy, which can be obtained online because they require less practicum coursework.

Physical Therapist Assistant

If time or budget restrictions make it difficult to pursue a career as a physical therapist, look into becoming a PTA (physical therapist assistant) as another option. Anyone with an associate degree and a number of training hours can become a PT assistant. Because coursework is similar to that required by a physical therapist, graduates can eventually decide to go back to school to complete their education. PTAs always work under the guidance of a licensed therapist and may have to take on clerical duties and secondary issues, such as helping patients get fitted with support devices.

List of Physical Therapy Schools in California

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