Becoming a physical therapist is hard work. There's school (for your Bachelor's degree), then more school (for your DPT), then the National Physical Therapy Exam, and then—after all that—there's the licensing process. For some PTs, one license is all they'll ever need to practice, but what if you want to move, or travel, or just live close to the state border and want to be able to practice there too?
PT licensing is a necessity, but it can also be a bit of a pain. Here we're going to outline how to get a PT license in another state and the steps being taken to create multistate licenses for PTs.
Getting a PT License in Another State
PTs are licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In order to practice in any of those locations, a PT needs to be licensed by that state (or territory).
The time it takes to get a physical therapy license ranges from one week to two months, and while some of the requirements are the same from state to state, some are not. For example, California, Washington D.C., Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Wyoming require fingerprints for licensure.
For a full list of the requirements for getting a PT license in each state, and an estimated timeframe, click here.
Physical Therapy Licensure Compact (PTLC)
For about the past six years, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) has been working toward the goal of creating a physical therapy licensure compact that would allow PTs and PTAs to practice in any participating state without having to go through the process of obtaining a new license. The legislation would have to be enacted by each participating state, but once signed into law, qualified PTs and PTAs would only have to maintain a license in their home state in order to practice in compact states.
The language of the PTLC legislation was finalized this past year, and in March, Oregon became the first state to join.
The adoption of the PTLC would make a huge difference for physical therapists hoping to practice in multiple states, as the Nursing Licensure Compact has done for traveling nurses. As the American Physical Therapy Association notes:
"The combination of increased mobility, changes to the health care system, changes to education (eg, internships and fellowships), and the rise of telehealth has highlighted the need for clinicians to have the ability to practice across jurisdictional boundaries with minimal barriers."
We'll be watching the advancement of the PTLC closely, but in the meantime, you can visit our resource pages for help getting a PT license in another state.