What Continuing Education Courses Do I Need for Physical Therapy?

Physical therapists and physical therapy assistants are required to complete continuing education classes as part of the renewal process for their state licenses, certifications or registrations. Read on to learn more about these required courses. Schools offering Physical Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview and Licensing Information

As a physical therapist (PT), you will create treatment plans and provide therapy to individuals who need assistance in regaining movement and honing other physical abilities. PT assistants help physical therapists in their work providing treatments to patients.

Physical therapists are required to complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree and gain licensure. Physical therapy assistants must generally complete an associate's degree before they can find a job in the field, and they are also required to obtain licensure in most areas.

Physical therapist licensing requirements usually include completing a DPT program and passing the National Physical Therapy Examination. As a physical therapy assistant, you'll likely need to complete a formal training program and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination for PT assistants. Some states may have additional requirements for both PTs and PT assistants. PTs are typically licensed for 1-2 year periods.

Important Facts About Physical Therapy Careers

Median Annual Salary (2018) $87,930 (for physical therapists); $58,040 (for PT assistants)
Similar Fields Occupational and recreational therapy, chiropractic, nursing, dental and medical assisting, speech therapy
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 28% growth overall (for physical therapists); 30% growth overall (for PT assistants and aides)
Work Environment Professionals in this field must often work with patients in ways that require frequent standing, moving or lifting. Odd hours (to accommodate a patient's schedule) may also be necessary.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Continuing Education

To maintain your license as either a PT or PT assistant, you need to complete continuing education credits, sometimes called continuing competence units. The amount and type of required continuing education varies by state. While some states specify the courses that must be taken during the renewal period, others just specify the number of credits or units required. Typical required courses include state laws regarding physical therapy practice, ethics and pain management. You might also be required to take a certain amount of clinical coursework.

Types of Courses

State regulations determine what type of continuing education credits are accepted, and from which institutions these credits can be earned. Typically, states will approve continuing education earned through colleges, universities, professional organizations and state agencies. Common forms of continuing education include courses, seminars, special projects and workshops.

Many physical therapy schools provide continuing education courses for both PTs and PT assistants. You can also find these courses as 1-2 day workshops at physical therapy conferences sponsored by organizations such as the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Additionally, some continuing education courses are available online.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Duke University

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Durham
  • University of Florida

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Gainesville
  • Boston University

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Boston
  • Howard University

    Campus Locations:

    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
  • Marquette University

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee