Becoming a Physical Therapist in California – CA

With about 37,000,000 residents, California is likely to have more of everything, including physical therapists (PTs). The Bureau of Labor Statistics counted around 14,000 in the state in 2008. That’s a good chunk of the 167,000 physical therapists in the nation. Despite the high number of physical therapists in the state, the salary you can command as a qualified PT is impressive (see below).

As a licensed PT, you can evaluate a patient, but you cannot provide any PT treatment until you receive a diagnosis from the patient’s physician, dentist, chiropractor, podiatrist, or other licensed health care professional. California requires you to wear an identifying tag with your name. In California, you can supervise physical therapist assistants (who are also licensed, but only need attend school for two years) or physical therapy aides (who are not licensed and can only provide care to a patient if you are within earshot).

How to Become a Physical Therapist in California

To apply for a license from the California Department of Consumer Affairs if you are a recent graduate from an accredited PT program and hold a certificate of completion form in a sealed envelope, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as the California Law Examination (CLE). The CLE is a multiple-choice exam that takes about an hour.

If you are a licensed PT in another state, you can apply for license by endorsement and transfer your NPTE scores to California. You must still pass the CLE.  The fee to process your application is $125, and the first time you are licensed you must pay $100.  If you are not a California resident, you must submit a finger print card. The processing fee for this is $51.

You must also submit a recent photograph of yourself. If you are disabled, you must submit a disability accommodation request form so that the state and the exam proctor can provide you with a reasonable accommodation to take the test.

Continuing Education for Physical Therapists in California

Recent changes in the law for physical therapists just went into effect, so if your license renewal is before October 31, 2010, you do not need to take any continuing education courses.  After that, however, the requirement is 30 hours every two-year license renewal period (pro-rated for your next license expiration date.

Two of the hours must be in ethics, laws and regulations. Four hours have to be in life support for health professionals. You may earn hours by publishing a journal article, case study or chapter of a book, presenting a college or continuing education course for the first time, serving on the Physical Therapy Board of California or attending a board meeting, or attending a conference on physical therapy.

Physical Therapy Schools

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