Alaska Physical Therapist/ Physical Therapy Assistant Certification and Licensure

Last year Alaska’s physical therapists earned the second-highest average salary in the nation, coming in just short
of $100,000. Salaries and employment prospects for both physical therapists and physical therapy assistants are only
expected to improve in the future as the percentage of the state’s elderly population continues to increase over the
coming decades. These are only some of the reasons why the field of physical therapy has held a tremendous appeal as
of late.

The overall umbrella of jurisdiction you will be working under is the Alaska Department of Commerce’s Division of
Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing. Under this, the State Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy
Board directly determines the rules for PT/PTA licensure and makes the decision whether or not to issue you a PT or
PTA license. The Board is made up of seven members – three of whom are physical therapists or physical therapy
assistants – who are appointed by the Governor of Alaska and confirmed by the Legislature. To become a physical
therapist or physical therapist in Alaska you will need to complete the following steps:

  • Step 1: Complete an Approved PT/PTA Education Program
  • Step 2: Pass Alaska’s Required Testing
  • Step 3: Apply for Licensure
  • Step 4: Renew and Maintain Your License

Step 1: Complete an Approved PT/PTA Education Program

The first requirement you will encounter when researching how to become a physical therapy assistant or physical
therapist in Alaska is education. To be eligible for licensure you must complete a PT/PTA degree or certification
program that is either accredited by CAPTE (Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education), or complete a
program that is accredited by the Council on Medical Education and Hospitals of the American Medical Association.

Step 2: Pass Alaska’s Required Testing

Another of the important physical therapist requirements in Alaska is testing. To be eligible for a PT or PTA license
you must pass the following two exams:

  • National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE)
  • Alaska Jurisprudence Exam

National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE)

The NPTE is sponsored
by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) and evaluates your essential knowledge in the field of
physical therapy. The exam is offered in two different formats, one for prospective PTs and the other for prospective
PTAs. You can register online for either version, which will cost $370.

These exams cover a range of subjects that include:

  • Important human body systems, such as:
  • Lymphatic system
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Neuromuscular and nervous systems
  • Cardiovascular and pulmonary system
  • Professional responsibilities; safety and protection; research
  • Devices, equipment, and other therapeutic options

Alaska Jurisprudence Exam

At the end of your application packet for licensure discussed below in Step 3 is an Alaska Jurisprudence Exam. This
is a 20-question test that evaluates you on your understanding of the following Alaska laws:

To pass this test you will need to not only choose the correct answer from a multiple-choice list but also cite the
section of the law that justifies your answer.

Step 3: Apply for Licensure

A complete application for licensure will include the following, which should be sent to the Board of Physical
Therapy and Occupational Therapy; State Office Building; 333 Wiloughby Avenue, 9th floor; PO Box 110806; Juneau, AK

  • PT/PTA Licensure Packet
    with a notarized application
  • $70 application fee
  • Official transcripts from your PT/PTA school sent directly to the Board
  • Your score report from the NPTE sent directly to the Board
  • Licensure fee: $240 for a physical therapist, $175 for a physical therapy assistant

If you are already licensed as a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant in another state, you must also
submit a Verification of Licensure Form that is included in the application packet.

From the time you submit your application will need to wait 4-6 weeks until you receive your license.

Option for a Temporary Permit

Before you can take the NPTE you will need to be approved by the Alaska State Physical Therapy and Occupational
Therapy Board. To be approved you will need to submit your application for licensure with the Board, and you can do
this at the same time you register to take the NPTE. While you are waiting to take the NPTE and afterward to obtain
your testing results, you may be issued a temporary permit that will allow you to practice as a physical therapist or
physical therapy assistant under the supervision of an experienced physical therapist. The application for a temporary
permit is contained within the application packet detailed above, and you will need to submit this along with:

  • $65 temporary permit fee
  • Notarized Statement of Responsibility from your supervising physical therapist

Step 4: Renew and Maintain Your License

All PT and PTA licenses expire on June 30th of even-numbered years, unless your license was issued within 90 days of
this date at which point it would be valid for the next two-year period. You will receive a renewal notice in the mail
that will be sent at least 30 days before your license is due to expire.

In order to renew your PT or PTA license, you will need to obtain at least 24 contact hours of continuing education
every two years. Half of these hours must be completed in programs from a professional or academic institution
approved by the State Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Board.

The Alaska Physical Therapy Association (APTA) can provide you
with additional information regarding employment possibilities, networking opportunities, and continuing education.