In order to become a physiotherapist, it’s important to have a natural aptitude for caring for others. Physiotherapists work in various settings such as hospitals, home health environments, rehab centers, and athletic training facilities. If you’re considering this career path, job shadowing physical therapists during college can help you determine if it’s the right fit for you.
While most countries require a degree in physiotherapy to practice, there are alternative routes to becoming a physiotherapist without attending a traditional university. Let’s explore some options around the world:
- Part-time Degree Program (UK): The UK offers part-time degree apprenticeships in physiotherapy. These programs, introduced in 2015, allow individuals over 18 with A levels, an IB, or an advanced apprenticeship to study while working. The apprenticeship typically lasts between four to six years, and upon completion, you’ll receive a degree from a participating university. Registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is necessary to practice, and continuous learning is required to maintain your registration.
- International Accredited Programs (Ireland and Australia): Some universities around the world offer physiotherapy undergraduate programs that accredit you upon graduation. For example, the University College Dublin in Ireland provides a BSc (Hons.) in Physiotherapy, already accredited by the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists. In Australia, you can study a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (four years) or a five-year double degree, both leading to registration with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia.
- Short Courses (Australia): In Australia, you can take up short courses at trade schools or private colleges to prepare for higher education in physiotherapy. These courses may include topics like Treatment of Sports Injuries or Clinical Practice Management.
- Consider Becoming a PTA (USA): In the US, becoming a physiotherapist usually requires a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, which can take around 3 years after completing a bachelor’s degree. However, an alternative route is to become a physiotherapist assistant (PTA), which takes only two years of study. PTAs work closely with patients and have a shorter training period compared to full-fledged physiotherapists.
Remember that regardless of the pathway you choose, continuous learning and skill upgrades are essential to stay current in your field. Becoming a physiotherapist without going to university is possible, but it may still require several years of study and dedication. Alternatively, pursuing a career as a physiotherapist assistant offers a quicker entry into the field. Evaluate your options and choose the path that aligns best with your goals and aspirations.