How Do You Become a Pediatric Physical Therapist? Obtaining a Graduate Degree and Passing the National Physical Therapy Examination Are Steps to Becoming a Pediatric Physical Therapist

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In this article, you'll discover what pediatric physical therapists do, what education is necessary to become a pediatric physical therapist, and what the responsibilities of pediatric physical therapists are, including helping and managing children who need physical therapy. This article will also discuss what the current salary of a pediatric physical therapist typically is.

I tend to think babysitting is difficult. Mending kids’ knees after they’ve fallen down and scraped themselves makes me cringe. I can get sensitive to their crying, their impatience, their frustration, their pain. It’s hard for me to be the patient one, let alone the strong one, guiding and teaching children in unique situations. However, that’s what pediatric physical therapists do all the time. And thank goodness for them!

According to pediatricapta.org, ''Pediatric physical therapists work to help children reach their maximum potential for functional independence through examination, evaluation, promotion of health and wellness, and implementation of a wide variety of interventions and supports.''



''Pediatric PTs support children from infancy through adolescence and collaborate with their families and other medical, educational, developmental, and rehabilitation specialists,'' continues the site. ''They promote the participation of children in daily activities and routines in the home, school, and community.''

But what are the qualifications and responsibilities of a pediatric physical therapist? Let’s take a look.

What Are the Qualifications of a Pediatric Physical Therapist? A Direct-Entry or Transitional Master’s or Doctorate Degree

There are several different ways you can earn your degree as a physical therapist. According to Laura Inverarity, D.O., ''There are several types of degrees offered in the field of physical therapy. Earlier, this profession was pursued as a bachelor's degree. However, around the end of the 1990s, the bachelor's degree in physical therapy was slowly replaced by master’s and doctorate physical therapy degrees. Today, there are variations on these two degrees.''

The two variations are direct-entry and transitional:

A direct-entry master’s in physical therapy is a two-year master’s program which Inverarity refers to as an ''excellent choice for those people who have completed their bachelor’s degree.''

A direct-entry doctorate in physical therapy is a three-year program in which you earn the title dPT, or Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

The transitional master’s in physical therapy, however, ''was created for physical therapists who graduated with their bachelor’s in physical therapy. It allows these professionals to continue in their educational experience and advance their degree to that of the master’s in physical therapy.''

Similar is the transitional doctorate in physical therapy, which is also designed for those who graduated with their bachelor’s in physical therapy.

However, obtaining your graduate degree isn’t the last step. Before you can begin practicing, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination, as required by federal law.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Pediatric Physical Therapist? These Include Diagnosing, Treating, and Managing Infants, Children, and Adolescents

According to Wikipedia.org, ''These therapists are specialized in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of infants, children, and adolescents with a variety of congenital, developmental, neuromuscular, skeletal, or acquired disorders/diseases.

''Treatments focus on improving gross and fine motor skills, balance and coordination, strength and endurance, as well as cognitive and sensory processing/integration,'' continues the site. ''Children with developmental delays, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and torticollis are a few of the patients treated by pediatric physical therapists.''

The Current Job Market for Pediatric Physical Therapists

According to PayScale.com, entry-level pediatric physical therapists can expect to earn an annual salary of $48,976. For those with 1-4 years of experience, the average salary earned is $50,763; for those with 5-9 years of experience, it is $54,133; and for those with 10-19 years, it is $59,053.

Here’s the breakdown for how much the following types of positions will pay per year, according to PayScale.com:

  • Non-Profit Organization: $52,821
  • School District: $51,421
  • Hospital: $53,134
  • Private Practice: $49,806
  • Company: $53,421
  • Government (State and Local): $55,989
  • Other Organization: $48,200
  • Government (Federal): $60,000
Final Thoughts

So, if you love kids and have the patience to work in unique health situations, then pursuing a career in pediatric physical therapy might be for you. By receiving either a master’s or doctorate degree in physical therapy, you’ll be ready to take on the responsibilities required of pediatric physical therapists, including diagnosing, treating, and managing infants, children, and adolescents who need physical help.
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