* Blog originally published on 8/22/16 was updated on 12/4/20
Becoming a physical therapist is a grueling process that takes dedication and hard work. In addition to your undergraduate degree, you must earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, take the National Physical Therapy Exam, and then—after all that—there's still the licensing process to tackle.
For some PTs, one license is all they'll ever need to practice. But if you want to move, or travel, or just live close to the state border, you’ll want to be able to practice across state lines.
PT licensing is a necessity, and it can also be a bit of a pain, but with the establishment of the physical therapy licensure compact (PTLC), the process is getting easier for some—especially traveling PTs!
Here we're going to highlight two tools at your disposal to simplify the PT licensing process across state lines: our interactive map designed to quickly show you PT license requirements by state and the perks of joining the PTLC—the easiest way to attain multistate licensure.
PT License Requirements by State
PTs are licensed in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, 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.
We know as a traveling PT (or someone who is interested in becoming one), it can be time consuming to investigate the licensing processes and regulations for your next prospective location. To simplify your search, we’ve put together an interactive map so you can easily see the requirements for a PT license in each state.
Physical Therapy Licensure Compact (PTLC)
The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) has been working toward the goal of creating a physical therapy licensure compact that allows PTs and PTAs to practice in any participating state without having to go through the process of obtaining a new license.
This initiative is now a reality, with over 20 participating states!
Each participating state has enacted legislation allowing qualified PTs and PTAs to practice in compact states as long as they maintain licensure in their home state and their home state is also a fellow participant.
Our interactive PT license requirement map will also tell you which states are currently participating in the PTLC. Just click on your desired state to find out if it is a compact participant.
The adoption of the PTLC has made a huge difference for physical therapists practicing in multiple states, just 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 (e.g. 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."
With ever-increasing state participation in the PTLC, it’s never been easier to become a travel physical therapist! Download our free guide to discover how you can become a travel PT.