How to Become a Physical Therapist in Michigan

The practice of Physical Therapy in Michigan was revolutionized in 2014 with the passage of legislation allowing consumers to directly access these services without a doctor’s prescription. SB 690 takes effect on January 1, 2015.

This change affects a large number of PT professionals. Michigan had the fourth highest concentration of Physical Therapy Assistant jobs in the country in 2013 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They reported that 3,350 such professionals practiced in Michigan that year earning an average annual salary of $44,420. Nearly 29% of Michigan’s Physical Therapy Assistants were employed in the Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills area.

Nonmetropolitan areas in Michigan can also be good locations to work as a Physical Therapy Assistant. The nonmetropolitan area in the Balance of Lower Peninsula had the third highest employment level of any such area in the country. This area also had the highest employment level of nonmetropolitan areas in the U.S. for Physical Therapists.

In 2013, 7,830 Physical Therapists practiced in Michigan and earned an annual average salary of $80,820. Two Michigan cities were among the top cities in the country for the concentration of Physical Therapist jobs. Jackson was second, while the Saginaw area was third.

The Michigan Board of Physical Therapy oversees the licensing and regulation of Physical Therapy professionals in the state. It is part of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Here are the steps you need to complete to become a Physical Therapist or Physical Therapy Assistant in Michigan:

Physical Therapy Assistant:

  • Earn a Physical Therapy Assistant Associate’s degree from an accredited program.
  • Applyfor your Michigan Physical Therapy Assistant license and take the Jurisprudence Exam.
  • Submit your Fingerprints for a Criminal Background Check
  • Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
  • Renew your Michigan Physical Therapy Assistant License.

Physical Therapist:

  • Earn a Physical Therapy Doctoral degree from an accredited program.
  • Apply for your Michigan Physical Therapist license and take the Jurisprudence Exam.
  • Submit your Fingerprints for a Criminal Background Check
  • Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
  • Renew your Michigan Physical Therapist license.

Step 1: Complete Your Physical Therapy Degree

In order to become a licensed Physical Therapy professional in Michigan, you need to obtain a degree from a Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE) approved school.

Physical Therapy Assistant

You must obtain an Associate’s degree to be able to apply to become a Physical Therapy Assistant in Michigan. You can get an Associate of Applied Science of Associate in Applied Science degree in Physical Therapy Assistance from these Michigan CAPTE approved schools:

  • Baker College of Allen Park
  • Baker College of Flint
  • Baker College of Muskegon
  • Delta College
  • Finlandia University
  • Henry Ford College
  • Kellogg Community College
  • Macomb Community College
  • Mid Michigan Community College
  • Mott Community College
  • Washtenaw Community College

Physical Therapist

Michigan requires that you get a Doctoral Degree in Physical Therapy to get a Michigan license. You can get this type of degree from the following Michigan CAPTE approved schools:

  • Andrews University
  • Central Michigan University
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Oakland University
  • University of Michigan—Flint
  • Wayne State University

Step 2: Apply for Your Michigan Physical Therapy License and Take the Jurisprudence Exam

Once you have your CAPTE approved degree, you can apply for your Physical Therapy Assistant or your Physical Therapist license. The applications come with extensive instructions that you must follow closely.

You will need to arrange for your school to forward a final, official transcript of your coursework to the Board of Physical Therapy. If you are in your final quarter, term, or semester, you can have your school send an official letter stating this is the case and giving your expected graduation date.

A Jurisprudence Exam is included in the application packet. You must answer 19 of the 25 questions to pass it. You will need to be familiar with the following materials:


You must mail your application—faxes will not be accepted. You should wait for several weeks before inquiring about the status of your application, since it can take up to two weeks to reach the office of the Michigan Board of Physical Therapy. The applications are processed as quickly as possible in the order in which they are received.

You should receive an Application Confirmation Letter within approximately three weeks of mailing your application. You can then use the customer number provided to check the status of your application.

Step 3: Submit Your Fingerprints for a Criminal Background Check

The application packet also includes a Livescan Fingerprint Request Form that you will use to get your fingerprints processed for a criminal background check. You should contact an approved agency within 7-10 days of submitting your application.

You can find detailed instructions on how to have your fingerprints taken in the packet. You must use a specific number for Physical Therapy professionals when you have your fingerprints taken. This number is listed under “Requesting Agency Information” in your application packet. It is ID# 90906M.

If you do have a conviction on your record, the Michigan Board of Physical Therapy will consider factors such as your age at the time, how much time has elapsed, and the type of conviction before deciding whether or not to allow you to obtain certification to practice in Michigan.

Step 4: Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE)

Your next step in obtaining Michigan licensure to practice Physical Therapy is to apply to take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). You can do this online. After the Michigan Board of Physical Therapy has found that you are eligible to take the exam, they will send you an Authorization to Test.

If you do not pass the first time, you can take the test three times within a year. Your education should help you pass the exam on the first try. For the period from 2010 through 2012, 91.49% to 98% of Michigan’s Physical Therapy Assistant graduates passed the exam. All of the Physical Therapy graduates from three schools passed, while the passage rates at the other schools ranged from 95.6% to 99.15%.

Step 5: Renew Your Michigan Physical Therapy License

Your license will be good until the next expiration date for your profession. This can range from 4 months to one year. All subsequent licenses will be valid for two years. The Michigan Board of Physical Therapy will notify you about 45-60 days before your license expires and give you instructions on renewing it online.

You do not have to take continuing education classes to renew your license. Michigan’s Physical Therapy laws do require that you remain competent in your profession. One way to do this is take part in activities of the Michigan Physical Therapy Association.