Physical Therapy Certification Requirements


Physical therapists (PT) are certified health care professionals who provide care for patients in the form of exercises, stretches and education. They design a care program by evaluating and diagnosing movement dysfunction. PTs work alongside occupational therapists physicians, educators, social workers, speech-language pathologists and audiologists to restore function, reduce pain and prevent disability. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a PT was $72,790 in May 2008.

Bachelor's Degree

  • A student must apply to a university and complete a bachelor of science (BS) degree to begin the PT certification process. Classes that relate to the medical profession such as anatomy and physiology, biology and physics are required. To pursue a degree in physical therapy, volunteering at hospitals and clinics while studying for a BS degree as well as maintaining a high grade point average (GPA) is important. Making sure the BS degree is related to the health care field, such as biology, increases the chances of being accepted into a master's program.

Master's Degree

  • An American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) accredited college is necessary to finish two more years of study for a master's degree in physical therapy. An individual must complete an application and follow the acceptance procedure for the school. After being accepted, a master's degree in physical therapy requires completion of the course work and clinical studies.


  • The National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) is required for licensure. The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy offers the NPTE exam. All 50 states use the State Boards of Physical Therapy; contact the state and local jurisdiction for information on registering for the exam. Passing the exam proves an individual has the general knowledge to perform physical therapy required by state and federal regulations, completing the certification process.

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