PT License Process in the District of Columbia

By Luna
PT License Process in the District of Columbia

How do you get a P.T. license in the District of Columbia? This lucrative career choice is worth researching. Career Explorer reports that Physical Therapists in D.C. earn an average annual salary of $85,470, with some making as much as $121k. What's more, demand for physical therapists in the District of Columbia is projected to grow 15.4% from 2018 to 2028, with 40 P.T. job openings annually. And since we're in the business of helping physical therapists as best we can, we're sharing how to become licensed in the capital of the United States. Here are the basic steps:

Step 1: Earn your Physical Therapy degree

Step 2: Apply for a license with the District of Columbia Board of Physical Therapy

Step 3: Pass the required exams for the District of Columbia

Step 4: Maintain and renew your license

So, let's get started!

Step 1: Earn your Physical Therapy degree

To become a licensed physical therapist in the District of Columbia, you must obtain a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited school. Schools must be accredited through CAPTE (Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.) The current list of accredited schools in the District of Columbia are:

Howard University - Washington, D.C.

The George Washington University - Washington, D.C.

Before enrolling in a DPT program, you must first earn a bachelor's degree, ideally with a major in health sciences. A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program typically takes about three to four years to complete.

Step 2: Apply for a license with the District of Columbia Board of Physical Therapy

The Board of Physical Therapy regulates the practice of physical therapy in D.C. The Board is part of the District of Columbia Department of Health, Health Regulation and Licensing Administration (HRLA.) Before applying for your physical therapy license, be sure to familiarize yourself with the Board's list of requirements for the online application. As of June 14, 2021, paper applications are no longer accepted, so you must apply online via the D.C. Health Licensing Portal. Some items required for your application include:

  • A passport photo
  • A current government-issued photo id (such as a driver's license or passport)
  • Your social security number
  • An official transcript (to be sent directly from your school)
  • "Clean Hands," which means you do not owe more than $100.00 to the government of the District of Columbia.
  • Payment of $264.00, which is the application fee of $85.00 plus the license fee of $179.00. 

The online application also includes the registration and payment for your required Criminal Background Check (CBC). This is for conducting a fingerprint-based criminal history record check using both state and FBI records. 

Step 3: Pass the required exams for the District of Columbia

The D.C. Board of Physical Therapy requires that you pass two exams before becoming a licensed P.T. Those are the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) and the Jurisprudence Exam. To take these exams, you must register with a separate agency, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT.) Both tests evaluate your knowledge regarding the essential aspects of physical therapy. It's a good idea to review the NPTE Candidate Handbook before taking either exam.

National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE)

The NPTE exam determines if you're qualified to practice as a P.T. in the District of Columbia. It's a multiple-choice exam consisting of 250 questions. One of the best ways to prepare for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) is by taking a practice exam. When you're ready to take the official exam, take note of the NPTE eligibility requirements as well as the key dates and deadlines. You may register and pay online for the test via your FSBPT Customer Dashboard

Once you've registered for the exam, you'll receive an emailed Authorization to Test letter (ATT) from FSBPT (also available online on your Customer Dashboard.) Your ATT letter will direct you to contact Prometric to schedule a time to sit for the exam. 

Jurisprudence Exam

The Jurisprudence Exam is a test of D.C.’s laws and rules. It shows that you understand the statutes and regulations that govern the practice of physical therapy in D.C. and that you know how to skillfully and safely treat patients. The Jurisprudence Exam covers the following:

  • District of Columbia Official Code Title 3, Chapter 12 (HORA) §3-1201.01 et seq.
  • Title 17, District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR), Chapter 67.
  • APTA Code of Ethics. 

Study the D.C. Board of Physical Therapy Candidate Handbook for the Jurisprudence Examination carefully. It's a comprehensive guide that outlines all of the regulations in detail. It also provides helpful tips.

To take the Jurisprudence Exam, you must register online via FSBPT. The cost is $65. You'll have 60 minutes to complete the exam's 50 multiple-choice questions. 

Step 4: Maintain and renew your license

All licenses issued to Physical Therapists in the District of Columbia expire on January 31 of odd-numbered years. Your initial license is valid for the balance of the current renewal cycle. If you're licensed within 120 days of the current expiration date, then your license expires during the next odd year renewal cycle. If you're licensed before the 120 day period prior to the expiration date, then you'll be required to renew your license during this renewal cycle. All licensed P.T.s receive a renewal notice approximately three months before the expiration of their license. You may renew your application online via the D.C. Health Portal. Upon completing the renewal application and payment, The Board will renew your license for a full two-year period. Be sure to report changes to your business or residence address to the Board within 30 days of the effective change. Without an updated address on file, you may not receive your renewal notice.

To qualify for license renewal, P.T.s must complete 40 hours of approved continuing education (C.E.) during the two years preceding the license expiration date. C.E.s must include:

  • No more than 20 hours of C.E. credits earned through internet courses
  • Four hours of C.E. in Public Health Priorities
  • Two hours of LGBTQ continuing education

These are the steps required for getting and keeping your physical therapy license in the District of Columbia. For additional support, we recommend you contact APTA District of Columbia, which is D.C.'s chapter of The American Physical Therapy Association. They're an excellent resource for all P.T.s in the district. From all of us at Luna, we wish you the best of luck and look forward to a possible partnership with you in the future.