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The PT License Process in Pennsylvania

By Luna
The PT License Process in Pennsylvania

How do you get your PT license in Pennsylvania? It's worth researching since the average salary for a physical therapist in the state is $71k per year, with top PTs making as much as $108k. What's more, demand for physical therapists in Pennsylvania is projected to grow 20.6% from 2018 to 2028, with 830 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 Keystone state. Here are the basic steps:

Step 1: Earn your Physical Therapy degree

Step 2: Apply for a license with The Pennsylvania State Board of Physical Therapy 

Step 3: Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE)

Step 4: Maintain and renew your license

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Step 1: Earn your Physical Therapy degree

To become a licensed Physical Therapist in Pennsylvania, 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, there are 20 CAPTE accredited schools in the state of Pennsylvania.

Typically, DPT programs take three to four years to complete. Most programs require a bachelor's degree for admission, with typical prerequisite classes being in anatomy, biology, chemistry, physics, and physiology. 

Step 2: Apply for a license with The Pennsylvania State Board of Physical Therapy

The Pennsylvania State Board of Physical Therapy regulates the licensing of physical therapists in the state. They offer a handy "snapshot" of the licensure requirements. When you're ready to apply for your physical therapy license, you'll need to create an account on the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS). Before doing so, check to ensure you have the necessary documents required to apply via their interactive application checklist. (Note: We found that PALS did not work on the Chrome web browser, but it works fine on the Safari browser.)

After creating your PALS account, select the license you're applying for. You'll be asked a few questions before you begin the application to confirm that you're applying for the correct license. After that, the application will appear. Fill out all of the required fields and complete the checklist of necessary uploads. Be sure you save your entries as you proceed. After completing the application, review your information to ensure it's accurate. Finally, pay the required fee of $30, and your application will be submitted.

You can download a copy of your application for your records. Keep an eye on your email or log into the PALS site for real-time updates. It's a good idea to check your account regularly because the licensing Board might request more information.

Step 3: Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE)

The NPTE exam determines if you're qualified to practice as a PT in Pennsylvania. It's a multiple-choice exam 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 your 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. 

Examination scores are reported directly to the Board approximately one week after the date of the exam.

Step 4: Maintain and renew your license

Licenses expire on December 31 of every even-numbered year. The Board mails renewal notices two to three months before the license expiration date. If your email or mailing address has changed, you are responsible for notifying the Pennsylvania State Board of Physical Therapy. 

To renew your license, you'll need to obtain 30 hours of continuing education (CE) that are pre-approved by the Board. Note that all American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and APTA Pennsylvania Chapter courses are pre-approved by the PA State Board of Physical Therapy. In addition, your CE must be completed within the current biennium (two-year timeframe) in which your license is being renewed. Mandatory subjects include two hours of Child Abuse and Maltreatment and two hours of Law or Ethics for Physical Therapy.

To easily renew your Pennsylvania physical therapy license online, log back into your PALS account and follow the steps shown for renewal. To find additional information regarding the renewal process, reference the Pennsylvania Board of Physical Therapy renewal page.

These are the main steps required for getting and keeping your physical therapy license in the state of Pennsylvania. For additional help and resources, we recommend you contact APTA Pennsylvania, the state chapter of The American Physical Therapy Association. 

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.