Becoming a Physical Therapist in Louisiana – LA
Of the 107,000 physical therapists and PTAs that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics counted in 2006, 2,150 PTs and 840 PTAs worked in Louisiana. In our aging nation, demand for physical therapists and PTAs remains solid.
A report by CNNMoney concerning PT careers said that the pay and growth potential rank 7th best among the rated occupations. While a lot of schooling is required, and you must have a solid math and science background, if you have a desire to help people get healthy, this might be the career for you.
How to Become a Physical Therapist in Louisiana
Physical therapy and physical therapy assistant programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). APTE cites 234 accredited PTA programs in the U.S. as well as 68 physical therapy master’s degree programs (for an MPT, MSPT or MS) as well as 142 doctorate programs (for a DPT). After earning your high school diploma, you can go straight for a PTA at a community or technical college, or attend the university of your choice. Make sure to take lots of science and math classes and work hard to keep up a good grade point average. Look into PT programs immediately because not all of them require you to complete your bachelor’s degree before starting towards your master’s. However, you will ultimately need written recommendations from professionals who can attest to your work habits and moral character. So try to impress your professors with your diligence and ethics.
As graduation approaches from your PT or PTA program, if you choose to practice in Louisiana, you will need to be licensed by the state. One exception is if you are working directly for the federal government.
To qualify for a license, state law requires you to:
- Be 21 years old (or 19 for PTAs)
- Be a U.S. citizen or have a certificate declaring your intention to become a citizen,
- Have good moral character,
- Pay all required licensing fees,
- Graduate from a PT (or PTA) school which has been approved by the Louisiana State Board of Physical Therapy Examiners (LSBPTE),
- Pass the PT exam.
Note that if you have already earned a license in another state, reciprocity rules may allow you to apply for a Louisiana license without having to re-take the exam.
The first exam you must take is the National Physical Therapy Examination, which is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). For your convenience (especially if you attend school outside Louisiana) you can take the computer-based test anywhere in the country. The exam to become a PT is 200 scored questions and takes five hours. The exam to become a PTA consists of 150 scored questions and takes four hours. You will also find other questions on the tests, but they have been included to gauge their usability on future tests.
The second exam regards the rules and regulations of the state’s licensing laws. Louisiana lets you take your jurisprudence exam online from the convenience of your own computer. You need to get at least 15 of the 20 questions correct, and you receive your score immediately (and can retake if, if necessary).
Renewal of your PT or PTA license must occur every year, and continuing education requirements (listed below) exist. Should you fail to renew your license in time, there is a reinstatement application and fee required.