How to Become a Physical Therapist in Mississippi

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1,620 Physical Therapists practiced in Mississippi in 2013. They earned an average of $83,700 a year. Seven hundred and sixty Physical Therapy Assistants practiced in Mississippi during 2013. Their average annual salary was $47,630.

The Mississippi State Board of Physical Therapy (MSBPT) regulates the practice of Physical Therapy in the state and makes the final licensing decisions for professionals in this field. They issued a finding of imminent peril to the public welfare in April 2014 that described the need to inspect and monitor Physical Therapy professionals to ensure that only properly licensed PT specialists are serving the public.

Here are the steps you need to complete to become a fully licensed Physical Therapist or Physical Therapy Assistant in Mississippi:

Physical Therapy Assistant:

  • Earn a Physical Therapy Assistant Associate’s degree from an accredited program.
  • Submit your Fingerprint Card Request Form.
  • Apply for your Mississippi Physical Therapy Assistant license.
  • Take your Jurisprudence Exam.
  • Request to schedule your National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
  • Consider applying for a temporary license.
  • Meet Mississippi’s Continuing Education Requirements.

Physical Therapist:

  • Earn a Physical Therapy Doctoral degree from an accredited program.
  • Submit your Fingerprint Card Request Form.
  • Apply for your Mississippi Physical Therapist license.
  • Take your Jurisprudence Exam.
  • Request to schedule your National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
  • Consider applying for a temporary license.
  • Meet Mississippi’s Continuing Education Requirements.

Step 1: Complete Your Physical Therapy Degree

You need to obtain a Physical Therapy degree before you can apply for licensure in Mississippi. The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE) approves the schools that provide high quality degrees in this field.

Physical Therapy Assistant

You can obtain a CAPTE approved Associate of Applied Science degree from these Mississippi colleges:

  • Hinds Community College
  • Itawamba Community College
  • Meridian Community College
  • Pearl River Community College—Hattiesburg Branch

Physical Therapist

There is one CAPTA approved school in Mississippi that provides a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. It is the University of Mississippi at the Medical Center.

Step 2: Submit Your Fingerprint Card Request Form

Once you have completed your degree, you can start the process to obtain your Physical Therapy license. You need to undergo a criminal background check before you can obtain Mississippi’s certification to practice Physical Therapy. You must pay a $50 fee to the MSBPT, and they will provide you with a fingerprint card that you will use to submit your fingerprints for your background check.

Step 3: Apply for Your Mississippi Physical Therapy License

You must be of good moral character to be able to apply for your license. You can either print out a paper application or apply online at the MSBPT’s licensure website. The board requires that you provide an original passport-style photograph on the application. You should make sure that your signature matches the legal one on your driver’s license and Social Security card.

You will have to get your application form notarized once you have filled it out and make sure to include $125 in payment. In addition, you must pay the $150 license fee for Physical Therapists or the $125 fee for Physical Therapy Assistants.

Step 4: Take Your Jurisprudence Exam

An additional part of your application is taking the Jurisprudence Exam that measures your knowledge of Mississippi’s laws and regulations on the practice of Physical Therapy. You can download the test from the licensure website. You can take the exam open book, and you must score 70% to pass it.

The MSBPT will not start reviewing your application until they have received all of the information. Once they have your information, they typically complete their review within 1-2 days.

Step 5: Request to Schedule Your National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE)

You will have to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for either Physical Therapists or Physical Therapy Assistants. You need the approval of the MSBPT before you can register to take the exam. Once they have approved you, they will notify the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). You will receive notification from the FSBPT about one week later, and then you should schedule your exam.

You will need to score 600 on a scale of 200 to 800 to pass your NPTE. You do not have to worry about reporting your score. The FSBPT will do it for you. If you do not pass the first time, you can take the exam twice more. If you do not pass it the third time, the MSBPT will approve a plan of additional education that you need to complete. You are only allowed five tries to pass the NPTE. If you have taken the exam five times in any jurisdiction without passing it, you will not be allowed to take it again in Mississippi.

Your education should have prepared you well to pass the exam, since all of the Physical Therapist graduates of the CAPTE approved program in Mississippi passed their exams during the period from 2010 to 2012. The passing rate for Physical Therapy Assistants ranged from 90% to 100% during this time period.

Step 6: Consider Applying for a Temporary License

You have the option of applying for a 90 day license to practice under the supervision of a Physical Therapist if you have not yet taken the NPTE or are waiting for the results. If you do not take the exam, your temporary license will automatically expire, and you will not be able to get a permanent one.

Step 7: Meet Mississippi’s Continuing Education Requirements

Once you have your license to be a Physical Therapist or Physical Therapy Assistant, you will need to obtain 24 contact hours (CH) or 2.4 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) during the licensing period that runs from July 1 to June 30.

At least one quarter of your continuing education must directly relate to PT clinical practice. The amount that you can take online is limited to 12 CH or 1.2 CEUs. The MSBPT requires that two of your hours involve ethics and or professional responsibility.

You will need to document your continuing education training hours when you renew your license. You can renew online as long as you meet these requirements:

  • Not be on CEU probation
  • Last renewal cannot be more than two years
  • Complete required CEU training hours
  • A license status of active or closed
  • A photo on your profile

You should keep documentation of all of your continuing education programs, since the MSBPT randomly audits PT professionals who are renewing their licenses. If you renew online, you will be notified immediately if you have been randomly chosen for an audit.

Once you are a licensed PT professional, you will want to keep abreast of developments in your field. One way to do this is by joining the Mississippi Physical Therapy Association. It also offers postings of PT jobs in Mississippi.