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Rehabilitation Schools and Programs

Become a physical rehabilitation professional by enrolling in college degree and certification programs for physical therapists, rehab counselors, nurses, or occupational therapists.

How to Become a Physical Rehabilitation Professional

Physical medicine and rehabilitation is the health care specialty for diagnosing and treating patients who experience physical disabilities as a result of genetic predispositions, disease, illnesses, and injuries. Conditions may impact emotional well-being and vocational abilities. Patient seeking physical rehabilitation come from every age group and background, including:
  • Hospice patients
  • Chronic pain sufferers
  • Pediatric patients
  • Sports medicine patients
  • Spinal injury victims

Specializations and Educational Routes to Physical Rehabilitation Careers

Physical rehabilitation professionals often enter traditional medical-physician schools, and then decide to seek careers as physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, occupational therapists, and assistants. Others pursue the nursing option. In all cases, you must earn at least an associate's degree, or a professional certification or diploma to enter the field. Physical therapists complete master's or doctoral degree programs to qualify for work. Physical therapy assistants need to complete training and degrees at the associate's degree level. Occupational therapists also complete training at the master's degree level, while their assistants earn an occupational therapy associate's degree from accredited schools and colleges. Registered nurses complete either an associate's or bachelor's degree program in nursing, along with passing a national licensing examination.

Physical Rehab Job Outlook and Salaries

Among the physical rehabilitation careers, the employment outlook is bright. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment growth for the years between 2006 and 2016 is projected at:
  • 23 percent for occupational therapists
  • 23 percent for registered nurses
  • 27 percent for physical therapists
  • 29 percent for physical therapy assistants
The median annual wage for these professionals in 2008, according to the BLS, was $62,450 for registered nurses, $66,780 for occupational therapists, $72,790 for physical therapists, and $46,140 for physical therapy assistants.