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:

  1. Apply for admission to an undergraduate institution offering a pre-physical therapy program or major in a science field
  2. Graduate from the undergraduate institution
  3. Determine which post-graduate degree you will pursue (master’s or DPT)
  4. Apply for admission into a graduate school (or track into one from your undergraduate school, if applicable)
  5. Graduate with a master’s or DPT degree
  6. Apply for and take the National Physical Therapy Examination
  7. Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination
  8. Apply for Florida state licensure
  9. Acceptance of application and receipt of a Florida Physical Therapy License
  10. Maintain the standards of practice and continuing education hours for a physical therapist in Florida

Physical Therapy Schools

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            Keiser University Campus , Fort Lauderdale
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 11:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
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            Concorde , Jacksonville
            • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1994.
            • Designated as a 2015 Top Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
            • Currently offers over 20 degree and diploma programs in Healthcare.
            • 16 campuses across the United States, with online options as well.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and the Accrediting Commission of the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
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            • Began in 1899 as Draughon’s Practical Business College.
            • Features campuses that are heavily engaged in their respective communities, providing professional service from students and faculty.
            • Offers financial aid, scholarships, and counseling for both active and post-duty military students.
            • Has 15 campuses across the United States, as well as 4 art institutes in North Carolina and Texas.
            • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
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            • Each year since 2004, The Princeton Review has included California University in its Best in the Northeast listing, recognizing Cal U as one of the best regional universities in the northeastern United States.
            • Ranked #35 in Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Offers private school amenities at a public school cost.
            • Grants students in its Global Online program the same diploma as graduates from Cal U’s traditional degree programs.
            • Has an student-to-teacher ratio of 20:1.
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            • Accredited
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            • Transferable Credits