How to Become a Physical Therapist in New York

The state of New York has been experiencing growth in the physical therapy fields. Physical therapist jobs have seen around 16% growth in the last few years, while physical therapy jobs have grown around 9%. The average yearly income for a physical therapist is $79,670, while the average is hovering around $51,520 for physical therapy assistants.

Physical therapists and physical therapy assistants are governed by the New York State Board of Physical Therapy. This board is made up of eight physical therapists and one public member, appointed by the governor. The board is responsible for regulating, disciplining, and licensing physical therapists and physical therapy assistants throughout the state. In order to become a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant, you must follow these steps:

Step 1 – Earn Your Degree

Physical Therapist:

There are 21 colleges and universities in the state of New York that offer degrees in physical therapy:

  • Clarkson University
  • College of Staten Island – The Graduate Center
  • Columbia University
  • D’Younville College
  • Daemen College
  • Dominican College of Blauvelt
  • Hunter College – The Graduate Center
  • Ithaca College
  • Long Island University – Brooklyn Campus
  • Mercy College
  • Nazareth College of Rochester
  • New York Institute of Technology
  • New York Medical College
  • New York University
  • State University of New York Downstate Medical Center
  • State University of New York Upstate Medical University
  • Stony Brook University
  • The Sage Colleges
  • Touro College
  • University of Buffalo, State University of New York
  • Utica College

In order to qualify for licensure in New York, you must earn at least a master’s degree

Physical Therapy Assistant:

There are 12 colleges throughout the state of New York that offer degrees as a physical therapy assistant

  • Genesee Community College
  • Herkimer County Community College
  • Kingsborough Community College – The City University of New York
  • LaGuardia Community College
  • Nassau Community College
  • Niagara County Community College
  • Onondaga Community College
  • Orange County Community College
  • State University of New York College of Technology
  • Suffolk County Community College
  • SUNY Broome Community College
  • Villa Maria College of Buffalo

You must earn at least an associates degree in order to practice as a physical therapy assistant

Step 2 – Finish Your Clinical Experience

In order to complete your physical therapy degree, you must complete the clinical experience requirements set by your college or university. Clinical experience is designed to introduce you to the world of physical therapy and give you hands on experience in a monitored, controlled environment. The length of your clinical experience will depend on the college or university you attend and the degree that you are earning. In general, the length of clinicals for physical therapy assistants is shorter and less involved than that of physical therapists. The specific requirements and layout of your clinical experience can be found on your college or university website.

Step 3 – Pass Your Examination

Before you can apply for licensure, you must pass the National Physical therapy Examination (NPTE). You must take this test, regardless of your application of licensure as a physical therapist or a physical therapy assistant. This exam is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) and is only offered on specific dates. The minimum passing grade for this examination is a 600/800 for both physical therapists and physical therapy assistants. You must pay a $370 testing fee, regardless of the test that you take.

Step 4 – Apply for Licensure

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must submit an application for licensure
  • Submit the application fee
    • Physical therapist – $294
    • Physical therapist assistant – $103
  • You must have the college or university that conferred your degree submit a completed certification of
    professional education form
  • All materials should be sent to: NYS Education Department, Office of the Professions, Division of Professional
  • Services, Physical Therapy Unit, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234-1000.

Step 5 – Maintain Licensure

Licenses for physical therapists and physical therapy assistants are valid for three years in the state of New York. In order to be eligible for licensure, you must complete at least 36 hours of continuing education during that three-year period. The renewal process is online, and requires that you have your license number and your PIN number. You will be eligible to renew your license during the last five months of your license validity.