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Becoming a Physical Therapist in Wisconsin – WI

Job prospects for physical therapists in Wisconsin are excellent with available positions expected to increase by 25% or more in the next five to ten years.  Physical therapy is a thriving profession, with more than 1800 physical therapists practicing state-wide.
To become a physical therapist in Wisconsin, an individual must graduate from an accredited graduate school of physical therapy and obtain a license from Physical Therapists Affiliated Credentialing Board of the State of Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing (DRL).  Application forms and important information about licensing requirements can be found at the DRL website at http://drl.wi.gov/prof/phth/cred.htm. 


How to Become a Physical Therapist in Wisconsin

To become a physical therapist in Wisconsin, the application form must be notarized and sent directly to the DRL along with a $75 initial credential fee.  In addition, the applicant must have an appropriate official from his physical therapy school complete a Physical Therapy Certification of Professional Education form and send it directly to the DRL.  A registration form to take the National Physical Therapist Examination (NPTE) must be filed with the Federation of State Bureaus of Physical Therapy (FSBPT), along with the applicable $350 fee.  The NPTE registration form must be submitted to FSBPT at the same time that the license application is forwarded to DRL. 

Approximately ten days after the applicant’s application form has been received by the DRL, the applicant will receive a username and password for the purposes of taking on open-book, untimed online application on Wisconsin states laws and administrative regulations.  A state law exam fee of $57.00 and a contract exam fee of $15.00 must be submitted with the initial application form.  Applicants must achieve a score of at least 85% in order to pass.  Candidates who fail must apply for a retake and repay the applicable fees.

On some occasions, the DRL will request that an applicant undergo an oral examination, which amounts to an in-person interview with Board members.  The DRL generally requests an oral examination when concerns arise about a candidate’s fitness to practice physical therapy.  Factors that may trigger an oral examination include a medical condition that could impair an individual’s ability to practice physical therapy, a criminal background, a history of illegal drug use, or a disciplinary record, either as a physical therapy student, an employee in a physical therapy setting, or a licensed physical therapist in another jurisdiction.  If an applicant is selected for an oral examination for whatever reason, he or she will be required to pay an additional fee of $266. 

Applicants who have satisfied the other licensing requirements and registered to take the NPTE may apply for a temporary license to practice under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist while waiting to take the NPTE and get their exam results.  A temporary license expires after three months and can be renewed for an additional three-month period.  Under circumstances constituting hardship, a temporary license can be renewed for a second three-month renewal period.  However, the total duration of practice under a temporary license may not exceed nine months, and only one temporary license will be issued to a candidate prior to passage of the NPTE exam.


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