Licensure for Foreign-educated PTs and PTAs

Licensure for Foreign-educated Non-Us Citizens

APTA does not handle licensure. Each jurisdiction has its own licensure requirements and administers its own licensure process. Not all jurisdictions license PTAs and not all accept foreign-educated individuals as PTAs. The Jurisdiction Licensure Reference Guide, compiled by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSPBT), offers information about licensure requirements within jurisdictions as well as comparative data. For complete information about licensure in any particular jurisdiction, you must contact the jurisdiction's licensing authority. A listing of licensing authorities may be found on the FSBPT Web site.

Foreign-educated candidates for licensure, whether US citizens or not, are typically required to have their educational credentials reviewed as part of the licensure process. This review must be conducted by a credentialing agency approved by the jurisdiction in which the applicant intends to practice as a PT or work as a PTA. Occasionally, licensing authorities may handle the credentials evaluation process internally. It is through the credentials evaluation process that a licensing authority determines whether an applicant's education is equivalent to the education provided by an entry-level US PT or PTA program.

Translation of your educational information into English may be required as part of the licensure application process. Before spending money on any translation services, be sure to check with each jurisdiction and agency requiring translation to ensure you are clear on the type/method of translation required.

Be aware that credentials evaluators may not accept applications for review from graduates of some physical therapy education programs because the programs are not based within a post-secondary institution. Higher secondary education and vocational technical education is not considered to be post-secondary education. If you find yourself in this situation, you should contact the credentialing agency directly for more information on the subject.

APTA only approves credentialing agencies for Medicare-related purposes. It is important you contact the licensing authority in each state where you are applying for licensure before having your credentials reviewed in order to ensure you select an agency approved by each licensing authority.

Medicare and Credentials Evaluations

APTA Approved Credentials Evaluation Organizations (.pdf): Per the Medicare definitions for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants, APTA has put together a document that lists the approved credentialing organizations.

If a credentials review indicates the need for you to take additional courses or engage in other professional development activities, you should contact the licensing authority directly for more information regarding next steps. Another resource is the Planned Learning Assistance Network (PLAN) offered by the FCCPT. PLAN is designed to assist applicants with interpreting the results of their credentials review and identify alternatives to meet the deficiencies. If you ahve used an agency other than FCCPT, PLAN staff can still assist in identifying resources, but will not be able to pre-approve any coursework. To find out more about PLAN, you should contact FCCPT at help@fccpt.org.

Once an applicant's credentials are approved and he/she has provided all of the required application documents, the jurisdiction will determine if the applicant is to take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE), the FSBPT's licensure exam. The licensure exam is not offered outside the US. 

There are resources available to assist with preparation for the licensure exam.

Upon successful completion of the exam and fulfillment of all other applicable licensing authority requirements, a license will be awarded allowing the applicant to practice as a PT or work as a PTA in that jurisdiction only. In order to practice as a PT or work as a PTA in another jurisdiction, you may be required to repeat the credentials review process and/or take another licensure exam. Be sure to contact the licensing authority for information and to ensure proper licensure before starting to practice as a PT or work as a PTA in any jurisdiction where you are not currently licensed.

APTA membership is not a requirement for PT or PTA licensure in the US.

Accreditation/Validation of Physical Therapy Degrees

APTA does not offer any accreditation, validation, or credentials evaluation, or review services. This is a function handled by credentialing agencies. APTA only approves credentialing agencies for Medicare-related purposes.

Foreign-educated candidates for licensure, whether US citizens or not, are typically required to have their educational credentials reviewed as part of the licensure process. If you are seeking accreditation/validation for your physical therapy degree as part of a licensure application process, it is important you contact the licensing authority in each state where you are applying for licensure before having your credentials reviewed in order to ensure you select an agency approved by each licensing authority.

If a credentials review indicates the need for you to take additional courses or engage in other professional development activities, you should contact the licensing authority directly for more information regarding next steps. Another resource is the Planned Learning Assistance Network (PLAN) offered by the FCCPT. PLAN is designed to assist applicants with interpreting the results of their credentials review and identify alternatives to meet the deficiencies. If you have used an agency other than FCCPT, PLAN staff can still assist in identifying resources, but will not be able to pre-approve any coursework. To find out more about PLAN, you should contact FCCPT at help@fccpt.org.

Licensure for Foreign-educated US Citizens

APTA does not handle licensure. Each jurisdiction has its own licensure requirements and administers its own licensure process. Not all jurisdictions license physical therapist assistants (PTAs) and not all accept foreign-educated individuals as PTAs. The Jurisdiction Licensure Reference Guide, compiled by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT), offers information about licensure requirements within jurisdictions as well as comparative data. For complete information about licensure in any particular jurisdiction, you must contact the jurisdiction's licensing authority. A listing of licensing authorities may be found on the FSBPT Web site.

Foreign-educated candidates for licensure, whether US citizens or not, are typically required to have their educational credentials reviewed as part of the licensure process. This review must be conducted by a credentialing agency approved by the jurisdiction in which the applicant intends to practice as a physical therapist (PT) or work as a PTA. Occasionally, licensing authorities may handle the credentials evaluation process internally. It is through the credentials evaluation process that a licensing authority determines whether an applicant's education is equivalent to the education provided by an entry-level US PT or PTA program.

Translation of your educational information into English may be required as part of the licensure application process. Before spending money on any translation services, be sure to check with each jurisdiction and agency requiring translation to ensure you are clear on the type/method of translation required.

Be aware that credentials evaluators may not accept applications for review from graduates of some physical therapy education programs because the programs are not based within a post-secondary institution. Higher secondary education and vocational technical education is not considered to be post-secondary education. If you find yourself in this situation, you should contact the credentialing agency directly for more information on this subject.

APTA only approves credentialing agencies for Medicare-related purposes. It is important that you contact the licensing authority in each state in which you are applying for licensure before having your credentials reviewed to ensure you select an agency approved by each licensing authority.

If a credentials review indicates the need for you to take additional courses or engage in other professional development activities, you should contact the licensing authority directly for more information regarding next steps. Another resource is the Planned Learning Assistance Network (PLAN) offered by the FCCPT. PLAN is designed to assist applicants with interpreting the results of their credentials review and identify alternatives to meet the deficiencies. If you have used an agency other than FCCPT, PLAN staff can still assist in identifying resources, but will not be able to pre-approve any coursework. To find more about PLAN, you should contact FCCPT at help@fccpt.org.

Once an applicant's credentials are approved and he/she has provided all of the required application documents, the jurisdiction will determine if the applicant is to take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE), the FSBPT's licensure exam. The licensure exam is not offered outside the US. 

There are resources available to assist with preparation for the licensure exam.

Upon successful completion of the exam and fulfillment of all other applicable licensing authority requirements, a license will be awarded allowing the applicant to practice as a PT or work as a PTA in that jurisdiction only. In order to practice as a PT or work as a PTA in another jurisdiction, you may be required to repeat the credentials review process and/or take another licensure exam. Be sure to contact the licensing authority for information and to ensure proper licensure before starting to practice or work in any jurisdiction where you are not currently licensed.

APTA membership is not a requirement for PT or PTA licensure in the US.

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