Colorado Physical Therapist/ Physical Therapy Assistant Certification and Licensure
Physical therapy professionals are in demand in Colorado just as they are across the nation, where the field is expected to experience a 36 percent growth rate in the coming decade. Working as a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant can be a challenging as well as rewarding career to pursue that is both personally fulfilling and helpful to others. Last year physical therapists in Colorado earned an average annual salary of $74,150.
As you complete the steps to earn your PT or PTA license you will be working with the State Physical Therapy Board. This agency is affiliated with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) and its Division of Professions and Occupations branch. To become licensed you must complete the following process:
- Step 1: Graduate from a PT or PTA Program
- Step 2: Apply for a License
- Step 3: Pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE)
- Step 4: Renew Your Colorado License
Step 1: Graduate from a PT or PTA Program
To be eligible for certification as a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant in Colorado, you will need to earn a degree from an educational program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). There are currently two CAPTE-accredited PT programs in Colorado, as well as five PTA programs.
Your degree or certification program will start by taking you through the basics in physical therapy and move on to provide in-depth study of important aspects in the field. Once you near your graduation date you will have accumulated the necessary knowledge to become a qualified PT or PTA and you should be prepared to take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
Step 2: Apply for a License
Once you have completed your PT or PTA education program you will be ready to apply for a license. To become a physical therapist in Colorado you will need to fill out one of the following application packets:
- License by Examination – if you have not held an application before and you are planning to take the NPTE
- License by Endorsement – if you have already fulfilled the PT licensing requirements in another state and you are moving to Colorado
To become a physical therapy assistant in Colorado you will need to complete one of these application packets:
- License by Examination – if you have not been previously licensed and you will take the NPTE
- Licensing by Endorsement – if you are already a licensed PTA in another state
As part of your application you must complete an Online Health Professions Profile in addition to submitting proof that you have graduated, or will soon graduate, from an approved PT or PTA educational program.
If your application is judged to be complete and valid you will be approved to take the NPTE by the State Physical Therapy Board. You can submit your completed application to:
Division of Professions and Occupations
Office of Licensing – Physical Therapy
1560 Broadway, Suite 1350
Denver, CO 80202
Step 3: Pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE)
In order to practice as a PT or PTA in Colorado, you will need to pass the NPTE. This exam is offered through the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT), and registering for this is a two-step process. You will need to first create an online account with the FSBPT and then be approved by the State Physical Therapy Board to sit for the exam.
The NPTE is offered for both PTs and PTAs, and is comprised of 250 and 200 questions, respectively. The content of the exam includes:
- PT- and PTA-specific roles and responsibilities
- Professional conduct
- Evaluations, diagnoses, and prognoses
- Therapy options and types of interventions
- Major human body systems, such as:
- Nervous and neuromuscular systems
- Musculoskeletal system
- Lymph system
- Pulmonary and cardiovascular system
Step 4: Renew Your Colorado License
The Department of Regulatory Agencies’ Division of Professions and Occupations maintains a schedule of all state license renewal dates, including those for PTs and PTAs, whose licenses must be renewed every two years. If you are a physical therapist you will also need to meet the state’s continuing competency requirements, known as Continuing Professional Development (CPD). While PTAs do not need to participate in this, physical therapists will need to earn at least 30 CPD points over a two-year period. This can be accomplished in three ways:
- Participate in the CPD program
- Qualify for Deem Status
- Qualify for a military exemption
You can find more information about employment and CPD opportunities with the Colorado Chapter of the American
Physical Therapy Association.