What Is OCS Certification in Physical Therapy?


Physical therapy is a broad discipline that deals with the musculoskeletal system. Although all physical therapists have a common body of knowledge, some physical therapists may choose to specialize. The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties developed specialty certification to show evidence of advanced knowledge, skills and experience. At the time of publication, national certifications were available for eight different specialties, including the orthopaedic certified specialist, or OCS.

Basic Requirements

  • To become certified in orthopaedics, a physical therapist must have a current license to practice in the United States and 2,000 hours of direct patient care in orthopaedics within the previous 10 years. One quarter of those hours must have occured within the three years prior to the specialty examination. Physical therapists who have completed a residency credentialed by the American Association of Physical Therapy may waive the experience requirement. After the applicant successfully completes the examination, she is entitled to use the letters OSC after her name and signature.

Fees and Recertification

  • Applicants must pay two fees for the certification exam. The first is a review fee, which covers the review of materials the therapist supplies to document her experience or completion of a residency. The second is the actual exam fee. In 2014, the review fee was $515 for APTA members and $860 for non-APTA members. The exam fee was $800 for APTA members and $1,525 for non-APTA members. Certification is good for 10 years. The physical therapist must meet licensing, experience and performance requirements to recertify.

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