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Becoming a Physical Therapist in Arizona – AZ

Over 2600 physical therapists are employed by various clinics, hospitals, and private organizations in the state of Arizona.  Since July 2009, the number has shown a steady rise and looks to continue to increase.  The average hourly rate is $34.48 (Bureau of Labor Statistics), which is just under the United States national average hourly rate of $35.77 for physical therapists. Statewide, the southeastern region has a higher salary rate ($68,400) than the northern region ($64,320). 

How to Become a Physical Therapist in Arizona

Upon completion of all the educational requirements, students are then expected and required to take a national certification exam, which is a computer based standardized test regulated by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.  This exam is designed to measure competence for an entry-level candidate before allowing them to practice physical therapy in any state, including Arizona.   The exam fee is $350; additional fees apply from the company that provides the exam ($65) and will apply if a candidate does not pass the exam on the first attempt.  Candidates are allowed to take the test a maximum of three times if necessary.   Once the exam is completed successfully, it will not have to be retaken. 

The next step before practicing physical therapy in Arizona is state licensure.  The Arizona State Board of Physical Therapy (ASBPT) is the governing agency for licensure and sets forth the rules and regulations that allow someone to practice in the state.  Whether you are a new graduate seeking licensure for the first time or a physical therapist currently licensed in another state looking to apply for licensure in Arizona, you must complete the application provided on the ASBPT website and provide the necessary information.  This includes passport size photo, name, address, date of birth, social security number, date of graduation and degree completed, institution(s) at which you attended and/or completed your degrees, previous licenses (if applicable), fees ($190), official transcripts, and proof of passing the national exam.  Once your application is received, reviewed, and approved by the board you will be eligible to practice in Arizona as a physical therapist. 

Continuing Education for Physical Therapists in Arizona

Physical therapists in Arizona are required to complete continuing education hours in order to fulfill the requirements of licensure.  The purpose of this requirement is to keep them current on treatments in the field and to advance their level of knowledge and skill set.  Twenty contact hours are required in a two-year renewal period.  There are three categories that the hours can fall under: A, B, and C. Category A hours include attendance at approved courses as well as post-graduate work and advanced certification classes.  These hours are not allowed to exceed ten in a renewal period.  Hours in Category B are allowable up to five and include journal clubs, in-services and self study guided courses.   Practice management courses, presentation of a lecture to health care professionals and publication in a professional journal are options for achieving hours in Category C.  These are also limited to five hours.

Step by Step on Becoming a Physical Therapist in Arizona

  1. Graduation from an undergraduate institution with a bachelor’s degree in a science related field (biology, chemistry, kinesiology, biomechanics) or from a pre-physical therapy program
  2. Graduation from a graduate physical therapy program with a master’s or a doctorate degree (this includes completion of the necessary clinical rotation requirements)
  3. Completion of the application process for the National Physical Therapy Exam (includes all supporting documentation and necessary fees)
  4. Appointment date and time scheduled for above exam
  5. Achieve a passing score on the national exam within three attempts in a year
  6. Completion of the application process for state licensure in Arizona (includes all supporting documentation and necessary fees)
  7. Comply with state standards of care, ethics, and continuing education requirements as established by the Arizona State Board of Physical Therapy

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