How to Become a Physical Therapist in Montana

Physical Therapists and Physical Therapy Assistants in Montana are governed by the Montana Board of Physical Therapy Examiners. The board is made up of five members, four of whom are physical therapists, and one who is a public member. These board members are appointed by the Governor and cannot serve more than two consecutive three-year terms.

Montana, while not hugely populated, has had nearly a 14% uptick in physical therapy jobs based on the most recent statistics. The average salaries for physical therapists and physical therapy assistants are $67,140 and $31,475 respectively. In order to become a PA or PTA in Montana, you must follow these steps:

Step 1 – Complete Your Degree in Physical Therapy

Physical Therapists:

  • There is no bachelor’s or master’s degrees offered in physical therapy in Montana. The only degree offered is an entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy degree
  • The University of Montana is the only university on Montana that offers a physical therapy program. The basic outline of the program is as follows:
    • 33 month long program
    • You must complete your undergraduate degree before enrolling in the professional physical therapy program
      • Your bachelor’s degree does not need to be in the medical field, but these courses must be completed: human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, physics, statistics, and social science
  • Before you can enroll in the program, you must take the GRE with the following minimum scores:
    • Verbal Reasoning – 146
    • Quantitative Reasoning – 146
    • Analytical Writing – 3.5
  • You must complete 80 hours of clinical work under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist before application

Physical Therapy Assistant:

  • The only college that offers a physical therapy assistants program is the Montana State University-Great Falls College of Technology
    • The program is a two year associates degree program
  • Before applying to the PTA program, you must fulfill these requirements:
    • Complete both high school chemistry and physics with a C- average or better
    • Complete a keyboarding class with a C- or better
    • Be admitted to Montana State University-Great Falls College of Technology
    • Complete at least 40 hours of observation under a licensed physical therapist
    • Have at least a 2.5 GPA
  • The PTA program has a 20 student enrollment limit
  • You must earn at least a 76% on all of the courses in the PTA program

Step 2 – Finish Clinical Experience

Physical Therapists:

The physical therapy clinical program takes three years to finish, consisting of a minimum of one part-time clinical and four full time clinicals. You will have opportunity during the fall semester of your second and third years to participate in additional clinical experience. During these clinicals, you will complete a minimum of 1,424 hours of experience. You will participate in clinicals in a minimum of three unique environments.

Physical Therapy Assistant:

You will complete your clinical experience during the second year of earning your associate’s degree.

Step 3 – Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE)

The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) is responsible for administering the NPTE. You must take this exam if you wish to become a licensed PT or PTA. The minimum passing grade for both the PA and PTA tests is a 600/800. Testing days and registration deadlines can be found on the FSBPT’s website. The fee for the PA and the PTA tests is $370.

Physical Therapists

  • Test consist of 250 multiple choice questions
    • 200 are graded and 50 are pretest questions for other exams
  • 100% of the graduates from the University of Montana passed the NPTE based on the most recent yearly data

Physical Therapy Assistant

  • Test contains 200 questions
    • 150 are graded and 50 are pretest questions
  • 100% of the graduates from Montana State University-Great Falls College of Technology passed the NPTE based on the most recent yearly data

Step 4 – Apply for Licensure in Montana

Both PA’s and PTA’s must apply for licensure through the Montana Board of Physical Therapy Examiners. You must pass the open-book Jurisprudence Examination with at least a 90% before you can be licensed. This test will be submitted with your application for licensure. If you are applying to be a PA or a PTA, the following steps must be completed:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Submit an application to the Board office
  • Pay all fees
    • Application fee – $100
    • Temporary License fee – $100
  • Include a passport sized photo with an application
  • Submit all official transcripts to the Board

Step 5 – Maintain Licensure
Once you have been licensed as a PA or PTA by Montana, you must renew your license every year between February 1st and April 1st. The fee for renewal of both PA and PTA licenses is $60.

Continue education is required for both PA’s and PTA’s. You must complete 20 hours of continuing education every two years. If you received your license in an odd numbered year, you must report in odd numbered years and if you received your license in an even numbered year, you must report in even numbered years. You do not need to complete these continuing education requirements during your first period of licensure.

Congratulations! By following these steps, you are qualified to be a physical therapist aor a physical therapist assistant in the state of Montana.