The PT License Process in Colorado

By Luna
The PT License Process in Colorado

How do you get a PT license in Colorado? This lucrative career choice is worth researching. Career Explorer reports that Physical Therapists in Colorado earn an average annual salary of $81,460, with some making as much as $108k. What's more, demand for physical therapists in Colorado is projected to grow 37.3% from 2018 to 2028, with 490 PT job openings annually throughout the state. And since we're in the business of helping physical therapists as best we can, we're sharing how to become licensed in the Centennial State. Here are the basic steps:

Step 1: Earn your Physical Therapy degree

Step 2: Apply for a license with the Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations

Step 3: Pass the required exams for Colorado 

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 Colorado, 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 Colorado are:

Regis University - Denver, CO

University of Colorado - Aurora, CO

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 Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations

The Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations (DPO) regulates the licensing of physical therapists in the state. DPO is part of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA.) Before applying for your physical therapy license, be sure to familiarize yourself with DPO's handy checklist of requirements for their online application. Then, when you're ready to apply, create an account on the Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations Online Services page and follow the prompts.

After completing your online application, you must submit fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI.) This is for conducting a state and national fingerprint-based criminal history record check using CBI and FBI records. The DPO's Fingerprinting & Background Check Information guide shows the steps for enrolling and scheduling an appointment with their approved vendors. 

Step 3: Pass the required exam for Colorado

To practice as a PT in Colorado, you will need to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE.) This exam is offered through the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT.) The NPTE exam is a multiple-choice test consisting of 250 questions. One of the best ways to prepare for the 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 FSBPT's Customer Dashboard

Once you've registered for the exam, you'll receive an emailed Authorization to Test (ATT) letter from FSBPT (which is 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. 

Step 4: Maintain and renew your license

All Colorado Physical Therapist licenses expire on October 31 of even-numbered years. You can find your expiration date using your online account created through DPO. Renewals open approximately six weeks before the expiration date.

All Physical Therapists must have Continuing Professional Competency (CPC) to practice physical therapy in Colorado after renewing their initial license. However, if your first license was issued during the middle of the DORA license cycle, you don't have to start working on your CPC requirements until after you renew your license for the first time.

You must meet CPC requirements to renew or reinstate your physical therapy license. It's done via one of the following three methods:

  1. The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Program
  2. Deemed Status
  3. Receiving a military exemption

Details about meeting CPC requirements by these three methods are in the CPC Program Manual and other documents listed in the Resources section of the Colorado DORA - State Physical Therapy Board website.

These are the steps required for obtaining and keeping your physical therapy license in Colorado. For additional support, we recommend you contact APTA Colorado, the state chapter of The American Physical Therapy Association. The organization is an excellent resource for all PTs in the state. 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.

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