Becoming a Physical Therapist in Florida – FL
The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that over 10,000 individuals are employed as physical therapists in the state of Florida. This could well be due to the ever increasing population in the state, as many residents have relocated there after retirement. The average salary ranks above the 75th percentile nationally (Bureau of Labor Statistics) and statewide average is the largest in the Naples-Marco Island area at $96,000, where approximately 240 physical therapists are employed. Steady growth of jobs has been seen in 2009 (Indeed.com). To become a physical therapist in Florida, you will first need to enroll in a degree program. For more information click here.
Upon graduation from physical therapy school, regardless of your final degree (master’s or DPT), you will be required to take and pass a national examination. The National Physical Therapy Exam is designed to serve as a baseline measurement tool to ensure that candidates are meeting the basic, minimum requirements to begin practicing as a physical therapist in the United States. It is offered at testing centers across the country and is in a multiple-choice format. Candidates must pass with a minimum score and if they are unsuccessful on the first attempt, they are allowed up to three retakes in a year. Fees and the necessary information (such as name, address, date of birth, official transcript(s) from school(s) attended, graduation date, etc) need to be submitted with the application, which can all be found on the Federation of State Boards’ website www.fsbpt.org. The current fee is $350 for the exam and $50-65 is the range of fees for the testing center. All fees will need to be paid with subsequent taking of the exam, if not passed on the first attempt.
Additionally, physical therapists in the state of Florida are required to hold a state license before they can begin practicing. This process is governed by the Florida Department of Health ‘s Board of Physical Therapy Practice. The licensure process begins with an application form (very similar to the one for the national exam) and an application fee, which is currently $205. In addition to the standard demographic and personal information, applicants are required to submit a passport size photograph, proof of successful completion of the national examination, and complete a personal history/criminal background section on the application. Once all the information is received and approved by the Board, you are then granted a license and ready to practice physical therapy in Florida.
Continuing Education for Physical Therapists
Physical therapists are required to obtain continuing education hours in order to maintain licensure as well as keep up to date on advances in treatment and care of their patients. These hours can be achieved through a variety of ways, including attendance at seminars and lectures, presentations at seminars to a group of their peers, publications in peer reviewed journals, and completion of advanced certifications. Regardless of the method, all hours must be from an approved provider of the APTA in order for them to be recognized towards completion of this requirement.
The state of Florida requires 24 hours every two years. If this requirement is not met, then licensure renewal is not given. In addition to the above methods of receiving continuing education hours, Florida mandates that only twelve of the hours can be earned through home study or online course options, two must be from the topic of prevention of medical errors, HIV/AIDS education must be completed within the first year of licensure, and no more than five hours per renewal period can be from the category of risk management.
Step by Step on How to Become a Physical Therapist in Florida:
- Apply for admission to an undergraduate institution offering a pre-physical therapy program or major in a science field
- Graduate from the undergraduate institution
- Determine which post-graduate degree you will pursue (master’s or DPT)
- Apply for admission into a graduate school (or track into one from your undergraduate school, if applicable)
- Graduate with a master’s or DPT degree
- Apply for and take the National Physical Therapy Examination
- Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination
- Apply for Florida state licensure
- Acceptance of application and receipt of a Florida Physical Therapy License
- Maintain the standards of practice and continuing education hours for a physical therapist in Florida