The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 27 percent growth in job opportunities for physical therapists between 2006 and 2016 because of a growing elderly population and advancements in the medical field. If you're thinking of joining the growing field, learn the facts about the education requirements.

Length

Physical therapists spend six to seven years attending school. Students earn their bachelor's degree during the first four years, followed by two to three years of physical therapy education---depending on the type of advanced degree they pursue.

Degree Type

Students choose whether to earn a master's or doctorate degree in physical therapy. A master's typically requires two extra years of schooling, while earning a doctorate takes three. There are 212 doctorate degree programs in physical therapy and only 11 that offer master degrees. according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

Accreditation

Educational programs to become a physical therapist receive accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

Significance

To meet state licensing requirements, a student must earn a professional degree in physical therapy from an accredited program.

Continuing Education

Physical therapists engage in continuing education courses to meet license renewal requirements. Each state establishes its own number of continuing education credits required.

Future

Leadership of the APTA released in 2000 the Vision 2020 report to serve as the vision and guiding force for the organization for the next two decades. This report makes a clear reference to doctorate degrees, and APTA assumes this degree will become the requirement by 2020.