Whether you are just starting to map-out your career plan or considering an occupational change, hands-on health care is a profession worthy of exploration. In a field where demand exceptions supply, it becomes a matter of personal interest and commitment.

From a broad perspective, physical therapists (PT) top the list of critical personnel shortages in comparison with other areas of patient care. Right away, it's easy to discern job security is a given. After becoming accredited, you can just about write your own ticket. Literally! Job openings are plentiful across the globe.

However, it's prudent to understand that any life-altering decision requires more than a blind leap-of-faith. Take note that a significant amount of money, time and sweat-equity is required to complete your necessary physical therapy education. Are you willing to make a promise to yourself that you will finish what you start?

First, do you qualify for this physically demanding occupation? Can you lift 50 pounds? Do you have physical challenges that would pre-empt you from repetitive motion such as: stretching, stooping over, bending and / or kneeling? Do you have the stamina to stand on your feet for prolonged periods?

If your interest has peaked by this point, you're ready to gather information. A good starting place is exploring valuable online resources using the keywords: “Physical Therapy Association”.

For example, you'll find: role of physical therapist, career advice, self-check indicators, exam information, handbooks, testing dates for your state, education criteria, assistance programs and much more.

Once you've taped-out the association's resources – STOP – and ask yourself “Why do I want to become a physical therapist?”

Most people respond, “I like helping people.”

Be mindful this is your future life. Helping people is not a valid reason to embark on this career path. You could have a fire fighter and help people. You could serve soup at a homeless shelter and help people.

Take pen in hand and make a list of every reason that comes to mind. Did your list include something to the effect of “I'll make a lot of money”? Money is good and you will make a lot of money as a PT.

But, the very best reason is that you can imagine yourself doing this job because you love it.

If this is true, it's time to visit several physical therapy schools in your area. Among required classes are: chemistry, biology, anatomy and pathology. You'll receive hands-on training in various therapeutics techniques. Some schools require clinical training.

After completion, you must obtain a license if you plan to practice in the US. Then you'll have the delightful experience of determining where you prefer to practice, such as a hospital, rehab center or an alternative healthcare setting.