The PT License Process in North Carolina

By Luna
The PT License Process in North Carolina

How do you get your PT license in North Carolina? It's worth researching since the median salary for a physical therapist in the state is just over $86k per year, with some making as much as $117k. Moreover, demand for physical therapists in North Carolina is projected to grow 14.9% from 2018 to 2028, with 390 PT job openings annually throughout the state. And since we're in the business of helping physical therapists grow their practice, we're sharing how to become licensed in the Tar Heel state. Here are the basic steps:

Step 1: Earn your Physical Therapy degree

Step 2: Apply for a license with the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners 

Step 3: Pass the required exams for North Carolina

Step 4: Maintain and renew your license

Let's get started!

Step 1: Earn your Physical Therapy degree

To become a licensed Physical Therapist in North Carolina, 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.) As of this writing, the current list of accredited schools in North Carolina are: 

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 three to four years to complete.

Step 2: Apply for a license with the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners 

The North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners is the organization that regulates the practice of physical therapy in North Carolina. Refer to their New Applications page for helpful information regarding the process. Also, be sure to review the Board's Application Instructions before starting your online application. 

To complete your online application, you must create a login then activate your account via email. Once activated, you may proceed with filling out your online application. Note that you must have the following information and application documents:

  • A valid social security number
  • A recent, passport-style photo
  • Two character reference forms
  • Your official transcript (It must be emailed directly from your school to the Board at
  • Payment of $150 application fee

Note that all new applications for licensure in North Carolina also require an FBI Fingerprint Criminal Background Check. After your online application is complete and submitted with all fees paid, detailed information will be emailed to you for completing your background check.

If you have questions, check the Application FAQ page for answers or contact the Board for more additional help.

When your application file is complete, it's forwarded to the Board for review. The turnaround time is typically 10 business days, and you can check your application status online

Step 3: Pass the required exams for North Carolina

Two exams are required to be licensed as a PT in North Carolina – the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) and the Jurisprudence Exercise. 

National Physical Therapy Exam

To practice as a PT in North Carolina, 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. 

Jurisprudence Exercise

All new applicants must also complete the Jurisprudence Exercise I before their license is issued. It's an online exercise that's completed after the Board receives and processes your online application. Before taking the exercise, prepare yourself by reviewing the North Carolina Physical Therapy Practice Act, Board Rules, and Position Statements. There are no fees for taking the Jurisprudence Exercise.

Step 4: Maintain and renew your license

When you receive your license, you'll also receive a packet containing information on continuing education and license renewal requirements. Renewals are done annually by January 31. The renewal fee is $120. You may complete your renewal online at the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners home page. However, the continuing education requirement doesn't follow the same scheduling as the license renewal period. While your license renewal is done annually, your continuing education reporting period is 25 months and starts in the month of January after the date of your initial licensure.

Licensed Physical Therapists in North Carolina must obtain 30 Continuing Educations Units (CEUs) every two years for license renewal. You must be prepared to report the completion of your CEUs to the Board at renewal time, so be sure to keep documented proof of your CEUs if you're audited.

These are the main steps required for obtaining and keeping your physical therapy license in North Carolina. For additional support, we recommend you contact APTA North Carolina, 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 remember – we're always hiring and would love you to join our team.