How to Become a Physiotherapist

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn more about the skills and education you’ll need to work in as a physiotherapist as well as some of the possible places you can practise in Canada.

[Featured Image]: Physiotherapist working with a patient in a clinic, using weights.

This guide describes the steps to becoming a physiotherapist, including the educational requirements and credentials necessary to work in the field of physical therapy.

The Job Bank of the Government of Canada predicts a surge in job opportunities of 14,300 for physiotherapists between 2021 and 2031, based on expansion and replacement demands [1]. If you seek a lucrative and sought-after healthcare profession with a strong emphasis on patient care may want to contemplate pursuing a career as a physical therapist.

As a physiotherapist (PT)—also sometimes referred to as a physical therapist—you’ll help others improve their quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education. Physiotherapists examine patients and help get them started on a treatment plan. This guide covers how to become a physiotherapist, including the educational requirements and career paths.

1. Earn your undergraduate degree.

The first step in becoming a physiotherapist is to earn a four-year undergraduate degree. This is a prerequisite to obtaining a master’s degree, which is a requirement to work as a physiotherapist. Your undergraduate degree can be in any subject.

However, some undergraduate courses may be required to enrol in a master’s degree program. Many undergraduate students who want to pursue a career as a physiotherapist earn a degree in health science, kinesiology, or a similar field of study. Research each physiotherapy (PT) school to understand better what courses you need to apply for the program so you can choose your major and undergraduate coursework accordingly.

2. Enrol in a physiotherapy school.

A master’s degree in physiotherapy (MScPT)  is the base requirement to practise as a physiotherapist in Canada. This is a two-year professional graduate degree program leading to entry to practise. To earn your master’s degree in physiotherapy, you must first enrol in a PT school.

Canada has a total of 15 accredited PT schools, 11 of which are English-speaking schools, and the other four are French. Since physiotherapy is a government-regulated profession, you must study at one of these 15 schools before earning a license to register with a physiotherapy regulating body and practise within your province.

Admission requirements

Each PT school will have specific admission requirements, including GPA requirements, coursework requirements, a reference letter, a personal statement, an interview, and more. The most common GPA requirement for admittance into a PT school is 3.7 to 4.0 [2].


Since physiotherapy is a regulated profession, expect all PT schools in Canada to have accreditation from the Physiotherapy Education Association Canada (PEAC).


The average cost of a PT program in Canada is Can$20,000, depending on the school [3]. This cost doesn’t include lab supplies, textbooks, and other materials you may need to complete the program. Also, consider application fees, testing fees, incidentals, and ancillary fees that may be outside the actual cost of tuition when budgeting your education.

Program structure

Most of the 15 Canadian universities that offer MScPT programs require students to enrol as full-time students, completing the program anywhere between about 24 and 28 months, depending on the program. There are various program structures that offer everything from dual to accelerated degree programs (or advanced standing). For example, The University of Toronto offers an advanced standing option for undergraduate physiotherapy students. This is an online program with a shortened duration of about one year, unlike the traditional two-year master’s program [4]. You may be able to find variations to the traditional program at other schools as well.

As part of your program, your school will require completing supervised practical training. This is a clinical experience that provides hands-on learning. Supervised physiotherapy clinical practice must consist of at least 1,025 hours of supervised clinical education. This is in addition to 100 hours in musculoskeletal and 100 hours in neurological practise, as well as 40 hours in conditions in cardiorespiratory practice.

3. Graduate from a PT school and pass the exit exam.

The purpose of attending a PT school is to prepare PT students for the Physiotherapy Competency Exam, or PCE. The exam is regulated and administered by the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators, or CAPR. Regulatory bodies require you to pass this exam before registering as a physiotherapist, which is part of the entry-to-practise licensing process.

This test, which contains written and clinical components, is necessary to obtain your physical therapy license. It measures your knowledge and skills in physiotherapy to ensure competency.  The written test’s score ranges from 200 to 800, and you must earn 600 points to pass [5].

You may reapply to retake the exam if you do not pass on your first attempt.

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4. Register with the regulatory body to earn your official license.

After graduating and passing the PCE, you’re eligible to apply for registration with the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) and the Colleges of Physiotherapy in the Canadian province in which you plan to work. CAPR provides a list of regulators by province online.

To apply, you will need proof of your master’s degree and a passing score on the PCE. You may also be required to take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), administered by the Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulatory Boards. Regulatory bodies use this exam to assess your competency as a physiotherapist.

Other requirements may follow based on the regulatory body. There is also a licensing and registration fee before receiving your independent license to practise.

5. Apply for PT jobs.

With the degree and license, you can now apply for physiotherapist jobs or choose to set up your own private clinic. Physiotherapists work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, athletic training centres, and schools.

Physiotherapist salary and job outlook

The average annual salary for a physiotherapist is Can$92,991 [6]. Physiotherapy is a competitive field in many areas of Canada. Canada Job Bank projects “Good” job growth through 2025 in most provinces nationwide [7].


Get started

One way to learn more about physiotherapy and gauge interest in pursuing a career in the field is to take a physical therapy course on Coursera. For example, the University of Toronto’s Managing Your Health: The Role of Physical Therapy and Exercise or the University of Minnesota’s Preventing Chronic Pain: A Human Systems Approach.

Article sources


Government of Canada. “Job prospects Physiotherapist in Canada,” Accessed March 16, 2023.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.