A career in physical therapy is a field that deals with the treatment, prevention, and rehabilitation of physical impairments, disabilities and pain. This is a rewarding career path in the healthcare sector that gives room for personal and professional development. Physical therapy is crucial in improving people’s quality of life.


A career in physical therapy will allow you to improve people’s quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education. A physical therapist can also be called a physiotherapist. Physical therapists assist clients in regaining mobility, managing pain and preventing new injuries. They contribute to the healthcare system by delivering non-pharmacological therapies and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices. This is a patient-facing career that has specific requirements you must meet. Therefore, knowing the steps you can take to start your career will help have a successful landing in this career path.


In this guide, you will learn the requirements needed to start a career in physical therapy. Additionally, you will become familiar with the different areas of specialisation in this field.


Steps to Start a Career in Physical Therapy

  1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

    This is the first step to pursuing a career in physical therapy. You have to apply to an accredited university to obtain a bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy. Additionally, you can also obtain a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as anatomy, physiology or kinesiology.

  2. Gain Practical Experience

    You must get hands-on experience after you have a bachelor’s degree. You should complete a clinical internship which usually lasts for about a year. This can be carried out in a hospital or clinic under the supervision of a licensed medical expert. Additionally, this internship is important as it is also a major requirement for obtaining your license.

  3. Obtain a License to Practice

    You cannot practice as a physical therapist without a license. After completing your internship, you should apply to the medical rehabilitation therapists board. You will be issued a license after fulfilling the requirements such as passing the licensing examination.

  4. Gain Professional Experience

    You can begin working as a physical therapist after receiving your license. Before starting your practice, it is advised that you get some professional experience. Additionally, this will allow you to learn from and improve your skills from expert physiotherapists.

  5. Choose an Area of Specialisation

    Physical therapy is a vast field with various subspecialties. You can pick an area of specialisation in any of the fields and carve a niche for yourself. You can consider fields such as sports physiotherapy, neurophysiotherapy or pediatric physiotherapy. Furthermore, specialising in a specific field can increase your skills and grow your practice.

  6. Pursue Additional Certifications

    Physical therapy is a constantly changing field. You must take advanced courses to stay up to date on the newest advances in the field. Additionally, these courses will help you develop your skills and knowledge of new treatment modalities and approaches.


Areas of Specialisation in Physical Therapy

  1. Pediatric Physical Therapy: Physical therapists in this field develop age-appropriate treatment plans to assist children in improving their range of motion, flexibility, movement patterns and strength.
  2. Geriatric Physical Therapy: Geriatric physical therapists are professionals in treating patients with musculoskeletal illnesses such as arthritis. They also treat patients with degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  3. Sports Physical Therapy: These therapists assist in the treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise. Additionally, they assist athletes who want to improve certain aspects of their physical development.
  4. Women’s Health: Physical therapists who specialise in women’s health can assist patients who are suffering from issues such as pelvic pain, lymphatic, pregnancy and post-natal complications.
  5. Orthopedic Physical Therapy: Orthopedic physical therapists specialise in musculoskeletal therapy. They work with patients to help restore joint, tendon, ligament and bone functions.


Universities in Africa that Offer Physical Therapy

  1. University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  2. Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
  3. University of Pretoria, South Africa
  4. Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
  5. University of Lagos, Nigeria
  6. Suez Canal University, Egypt
  7. University of Cape Town, South Africa
  8. Rhodes University, South Africa
  9. University of Sfax, Tunisia
  10. Cairo University, Egypt
  11. University of the Free State, South Africa
  12. Alexandria University, Egypt
  13. University of Nigeria, Nigeria
  14. Tanta University, Egypt
  15. Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
  16. University of Ghana, Ghana
  17. Makerere University, Uganda
  18. University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ghana
  19. Bayero University, University
  20. University of Nairobi, Kenya


In conclusion, starting a career in physical therapy requires dedication, education and practical experience. This career path meets the growing demand for rehabilitation and improving the overall health of individuals in a country. Furthermore, It is critical for people wishing to pursue a career in physical therapy to remain motivated and focused. This is a lucrative and exciting career that demands dedication, ongoing learning, and a desire to help others.


Good luck!

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