Fact Checked

What Kind of Education do I Need to Become a Physiotherapist?

K. Gierok
K. Gierok

Physiotherapists, also known as physical therapists, work to increase the quality of life of their patients by helping them to restore their health and fitness levels. In order to become a physiotherapist, individuals must first obtain a baccalaureate degree in a science-related field. Interested students must then complete either a master's or doctoral degree in physiotherapy, as well as a substantial internship. Those who want to become a physiotherapist often also choose to obtain additional certifications and training in specialized areas as increased qualifications for specific kinds of treatments.

Individuals who are interested in becoming a physiotherapist typically must first obtain a baccalaureate degree in a science-related area. Often, students who are interested in this field are encouraged to major in areas such as biology, chemistry, or even mathematics. However, as the area of physiotherapy expands, undergraduate coursework in exercise science, kinesiology, and other similar areas becomes equally desirable as prerequisite education. Education in these areas can make further coursework less difficult and provides the base for success in the field.

A sports physiotherapist helps athletes prevent and recover from injuries and surgery.
A sports physiotherapist helps athletes prevent and recover from injuries and surgery.

After a baccalaureate degree has been obtained, individuals who want to become physiotherapists must then apply to graduate schools, which typically last anywhere from two to four years. Depending on their state of residence, students must obtain either a master's or doctoral degree in the field of physiotherapy in order to be qualified to practice. Due to these discrepancies in education, it is very important for individuals pursuing this field to research the requirements in their area. Typically, while doctoral degrees in physiotherapy require substantially more time, pay rates between master's and doctoral physiotherapists are usually quite similar.

Once a student has obtained his or her master's or doctoral education, an internship is often required. This internship is most often performed in a hospital, clinic, or other facility that has been approved by the governing bodies that regulate the field of physiotherapy. An physiotherapy internship often lasts for at least six months, and usually is unpaid.

While the above requirements satisfy demands for those who want to become a physiotherapist, many choose to obtain additional training in specialized areas. Often, physiotherapists seek additional training in the field of child and infant therapy, geriatric therapy, and acute injury therapy. Typically, this additional training requires only a short period of time as opposed to the requirements listed above. In some cases, certifications that allow physiotherapists to practice in certain areas may be obtained in as little as a few months.

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Discussion Comments


Generally, a person would need their usual 5 A*-C GCSE's, 3 A Levels grade C and above, a bachelor Degree in Physiotherapy 2:1 or above and then a Masters degree in Physiotherapy. By this point, you will have gained a vast amount of experience and employment in this field will be considerably easier to find with a strong education in the subject.


@Saraq90 - That’s a great idea – to work in the field in a related way to better your graduate school application in fact I know someone who did this and made it into the physical therapy graduate school of her choice.

My friend (she ended up going to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) worked in a physical therapy office, doing whatever they needed her to do and added this to her graduate school application, including letters of recommendation from her supervisor at her physical therapy job.

As far as personal training and physical therapy, I know with personal training you would be learning more about the muscle building portion of physical therapy - but I am not sure if these two fields would relate enough to be helpful.


@SZapper - That is a very valid point, but I know from my graduate work in speech therapy graduate school that you are cramming a ridiculous amount of clinical knowledge in (and I imagine it is the same for physical therapists as you learn about disorders that effect the entire lifespan).

So the idea of adding in a bedside manner course would almost be like a punishment for all of those physical therapy students who are already loaded with classes as they already have the common sense and courtesy not to get frustrated with an elderly lady who is in recovery.

I wonder if it is competitive to get into graduate school for physical therapy school (as it was for my graduate program), and if it is, if many people who wanted to become a physical therapist work and become a personal trainer as they try to get into a graduate school program.

Quite a few of the people that I knew that did not get into graduate school the first try worked in related jobs to make their graduate school applications look even better the second time around.


I think they should probably include classes on bedside manners in physiotherapist educational programs. My grandma had to go to a physical therapist awhile back, and he just did not have very good bedside manners. He would get very frustrated with her when she got tired of doing the exercises.

I think it's important for physiotherapists to be patient. Bedside manners are important in any position in the healthcare field, but I think especially for working as a physiotherapist. After all, they're dealing with people who are injured in some way! If you don't like people, or you're not a very patient person, this probably isn't the job for you!


@Azuza - From what I understand, occupational therapists and physical therapists aren't the exact same thing. They do similar jobs, but occupational therapists assist disabled people with learning to perform everyday tasks. I believe physical therapists work with people who are injured to help them recover.

Anyway, I think if I were going to go into this field I would get a master's degree instead of a doctorate. As the article said, the pay rate is the same for both. However, doctoral programs are longer and way more expensive than master's programs.


A friend of mine is in school to be an occupational therapist right now, which is think is pretty much the same thing as a physical therapist. Her schooling is super intense!

She's in class all the time and has had to do some pretty hardcore papers. Also, they do a human anatomy lab with a cadaver dissection just like medical students do! They also do have hands on clinical classes where they interact with patients.

I have no doubt that my friend is going to be very well prepared to work as a therapist after she finished her degree!

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    • A sports physiotherapist helps athletes prevent and recover from injuries and surgery.
      By: Monkey Business
      A sports physiotherapist helps athletes prevent and recover from injuries and surgery.