Physical Therapist Licensing and Certification

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The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy administers the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). This is a requirement for licensing. However, individual states have additional requirements including state-specific assessments. Jurisprudence exams test your knowledge of the legalities of practicing in a particular state. Seven states, plus the District of Columbia, have jurisprudence exams that are administered through the FSBPT. A character screening is generally also part of the licensing process.

Expect to renew your license every two years. State boards also set requirements for continued competence. These continuing units are necessary to maintain licensing, and they can also be ways to enhance your career. There are many options available from private vendors as well as well-known organizations like the American Physical Therapy Association. You may find a list of recognized agencies on your state board site.

Certifications are an additional testament to advanced skill in particular branches of physical therapy. There are eight specialty certifications available through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS). Some certifications focus on particular populations. These include geriatrics, pediatrics, and women’s health. Others focus on health conditions: cardiovascular and pulmonary, neurology, and orthopedics. Sports and electrophysiology are also available. Before you can sit for exams, you will need 2,000 hours of clinical practice relevant to the specialty. Thee ABPTS conducted an employer survey and reported that 43% gave hiring preference to candidates with ABPTS board certification. 39% considered salary increases for board certification. Responses varied by practice setting.

Specialty certifications are generally good for ten years. You may recertify through examination or portfolio.