How to Become a Physical Therapist in Idaho

In Idaho the field of physical therapy is expected to grow at a rate that is much faster than average. Working as a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant in Idaho is a fulfilling career choice that helps people improve their health and well-being. Many also choose to become a PT or PTA because of the stability and benefits this field of employment offers. Last year the average physical therapist in Idaho earned an annual salary of $77,160.

The Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licensing’s Physical Therapy Licensure Board is responsible for upholding the rules of practice for physical therapists and physical therapy assistants. To be eligible for a PT or PTA license you will need to complete the following basic steps:

  • Step 1: Earn a Degree in Physical Therapy
  • Step 2: Pass Idaho’s Required Exams
  • Step 3: Submit an Application to the Idaho Physical Therapy Licensure Board
  • Step 4: Renew Your License

Step 1: Earn a Degree in Physical Therapy

When preparing to become a PT or PTA in Idaho, your first major achievement will be graduating from an approved physical therapy education program. This must be approved by one of the following agencies:

  • Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)
  • Council on Medical Education and Hospitals
  • A physical therapy program that is recognized by:
    • US Department of Education
    • Council on Postsecondary Education

Your PT or PTA degree program will provide detailed instruction on subjects like:

  • Professional ethics and responsibilities
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Biology and biomechanics
  • Functional anatomy
  • Rehabilitative psychology
  • Motor control and development
  • Clinical practicum

Step 2: Pass Idaho’s Required Exams

There are two exams you will need to take to gain PT or PTA certification in Idaho:

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

Idaho Jurisprudence Exam
This exam is included in your application to become a PT or PTA that you will submit to the Idaho Physical Therapy Licensure Board. It is an open-book test covering state laws and rules relating to the field of physical therapy. You will need to submit this as part of your initial application for licensure. The exam is 20 questions, and to answer these you should consult:

National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE)
The NPTE is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) and is the national standard for evaluating the knowledge of prospective PTs and PTAs. To pass this exam you will need to earn a score of at least 600.

The NPTE is offered in two formats:

In addition to covering the specific roles of PTs and PTAs, the NPTE will also evaluate your knowledge in:

  • Human body organ systems
  • Physical therapy treatment methods and techniques
  • Options for treatment of different maladies
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Professional responsibilities

Note that registering to take the NPTE is a two-step process. First you need to register with the FSBPT. Next you will need to submit an application for licensure with the Idaho Physical Therapy Licensure Board. The Board will ensure that you are eligible to become a PT or PTA and then notify the FSBPT that you are cleared to take the NPTE.

Step 3: Submit an Application to the Idaho Physical Therapy Licensure Board

A complete application package to the Physical Therapy Licensure Board will include:

  • One of the following:
    • Complete and notarized application to become a physical therapist in Idaho
    • Complete and notarized applicationto become a physical therapist assistant in Idaho
  • Your completed Idaho Jurisprudence Exam
  • Two professional experience references
  • One of the following:
  • Application and licensure fee of $50

If you are a licensed PT or PTA in another state and moving to Idaho, will need to arrange to have proof of your license and NPTE score sent to the Licensure Board, and you will not be required to take the NPTE again if you received a passing score. Idaho does not offer a temporary permit for PTs or PTAs.

Step 4: Renew Your License

Your PT or PTA license must be renewed each year, and you will receive a renewal notice six weeks before your license is scheduled to expire. You can renew your license by responding to the renewal notice or by renewing online.

To be eligible for renewal, you must complete 16 contact hours of continuing education. This must either be pre-approved by the Licensure Board, or if you are interested in something that is not already approved you may request that the Licensure Board consider the activity for approval. If you earn more than 16 contact hours of credit you can carry these over into the next renewal cycle.

You can find additional information about continuing education and employment opportunities with organizations such as the Idaho Physical Therapy Association (IPTA).