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How to Become a Physical Therapist in New York

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There is much more to the state of New York than the nation's most populous city, as New Yorkers living outside of New York City will gladly tell you. However there is no denying that The Big Apple is tops on the list of tourist attractions in the northeastern state. It is also this city that attracts job seekers from all across the country and the world. The news for physical therapists seeking employment in New York State is positive. There are approximately 13,000 physical therapists working in the state and positions in the profession have continued to rise over the last several years, according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not surprising, New York City has the highest average salary for physical therapists working in the state.

The Empire State has a strong network of colleges, universities and continuing education programs. Thus there are many programs from which students preparing for a career in physical therapy can choose. Probably the simplest way to get the foundation for a physical therapy career is to attend a school that specifically offers a pre-physical therapy program. This takes the guess work out of the equation. These programs are specifically designed for future therapists and when followed will lead graduates to the next step in the process. For students not yet committed to physical therapy but wanting to keep their options open, the best route is probably to concentrate on a major in one of the physical sciences. While these students may have to take a few extra classes later, they will be on the right path should they choose physical therapy as a career.

While it is recommended that all undergraduate students get some practical experience (and some programs actually require practical volunteer experience before accepting students in the program), it is while earning a graduate degree that clinical experience will be a vital part of the workload. Whether seeking a master's or a doctorate, students will get the opportunity to work in a variety of situations in which a physical therapist might find themselves in. This could include work in hospital and clinics, rehabilitation centers, senior care facilities, training and physical fitness centers and in patients' homes.

Once students successfully complete a graduate program, they are eligible to pay the necessary fees (currently totaling between $400 and $450) and take the National Physical Therapy Exam. This test can be taken as many as three times a year, and fees must be paid with each attempt. While passing this exam is the last step before applying for licensure in many states, this is not the case in New York. Graduates wishing to practice in this state must also pass a state examination before receiving licensure. The state process will also require that applicants provide information proving they have met the requirements for taking the examination and a few of approximately $300 must be paid.

Once these steps are taken, individuals will be free to practice physical therapy in New York City or any other community within the borders of the country's third most populous state. •