How To Get Licensed As A Physical Therapist

Female doctor holding and examining X-ray picture with skull

A physical therapist is a person who performs rehabilitation procedures for people who have usually lost mobility in different parts of their body. They assess the situation of a patient, form a suitable exercise plan, and help the patient regain their mobility. They also help the patient from suffering any similar problem by getting them to follow a custom-made exercise regime. The question is – how to get licensed as a Physiotherapist?

Physical therapist assistant program.

As the name suggests, a PTA is a person who performs physical therapy under the supervision of a physical therapist. One can become a PTA in about 2 years with the help of an associate’s degree that is offered in most schools.

Joint Bachelor’s-Master’s Degree

Anyone who wants to save time on becoming a physiotherapist can try this. In about 5-6 years, one can directly learn how to become a PT. A doctorate degree can follow after this.

Direct entry to Master’s Physical Therapy (MPT)

This applies to people who have already earned their bachelor’s degree (usually in arts or science). If you wish, you can directly apply for the master’s program instead of going through the whole process with core classes. You will need to undergo a few classes that are required to give the licensure exam.

Direct entry to Doctorate Physical therapy (DPT)

DPT is one of the most common options for students aspiring to be a physical therapist. People who are already graduates can apply for this.

Traditional approach

To become a Physical therapist by your core you can also approach it in a way that will focus your education on it.

  • Bachelor’s Degree – A student first must earn a bachelor’s degree in a field related to health. The student must take courses in Anatomy, Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
  • Doctoral Program – The next step is to earn a doctorate’s degree. This usually lasts for 3 years. It is necessary to apply for DPT programs in a certain way through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). A clinical internship is a must for students enrolled in the DPT program. The courses taught here include Functional Anatomy, Pharmacotherapy, Life Span Development and much more.
  • Get Licensed – The licensing requirements vary from state to state. But each of them requires you to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) conducted by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). You can attempt this exam three times in a twelve-month period. Licensing sometimes may also require a law exam or a criminal background check.


Additionally, you can also try to get different certifications to improve your skills as a PT and build yourself as an asset. This is called getting Board Certified which can be granted by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. You can be a specialized physical therapist in the following fields

  1. Cardiovascular and Pulmonary
  2. Women’s health
  3. Geriatrics
  4. Orthopedics
  5. Neurology
  6. Sports
  7. Pediatrics
  8. Clinical Electrophysiology

By now, hopefully, you know the various methods to get licensed and attain various certifications required to become a PT! So, go ahead and start making the world fitter – one patient at a time!