How to Become a Physical Therapist in Tennessee, TN
Tennessee is located in the southeast and is known for its historical contribution to music. The opportunity for Physical Therapists and Physical Therapy Assistants is very promising in Tennessee. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, out of every 1,000 employees there are 1.06 practicing therapists in Tennessee. This rate is much lower than the United States standard which is 1.50 practicing therapists out of 1,000 employees. The median salary for a Physical Therapist is $79,900 whereas an assistant is $53,400. There are 4,220 Physical Therapists and 2,130 Physical Therapy Assistants assisting 6.5 million residents in Tennessee.
The Tennessee Department of Health oversees the process of licensing practitioners in the physical therapy profession. The two levels of licensure offered are the Physical Therapist and Physical Therapy Assistant. The Tennessee state requirements to become a Physical Therapist or Physical Therapy Assistant are as follows:
Physical Therapy Assistant:
- Pass a drug test prior to clinical affiliations.
- Complete a minimum of 16 observing hours at health facilities.
- Graduate with a Physical Therapist Assistant Program Associate Degree from a school accredited by the Commission of Accreditation of Therapy Education (CAPTE).
- Take the National Physical Therapy Assistant exam. This exam is overseen by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).
- Receive Physical Therapist Assistant Licensure issued by the Tennessee Department of Health.
- Graduate with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from a university accredited by the Commission of Accreditation of Therapy Education (CAPTE).
- Pass the National Physical Therapy exam. This exam is overseen by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).
- Receive a Physical Therapist Licensure issued by the Tennessee Department of Health.
Additional information on how to become a practitioner in the physical therapy profession is as follows:
Step 1: Graduate from an Accredited School
Physical Therapist Assistant:
Receive an Associate’s Degree as a Physical Therapy Assistant from a college accredited by the Commission of Accreditation of Therapy Education (CAPTE). There are 9 schools in Tennessee that provide the required curriculum:
- Chattanooga State Community College
- Concorde Career College – Memphis
- Daymar Institute
- Jackson State Community College
- Roane State Community College
- South College
- Southwest Tennessee Community College
- Volunteer State Community College
- Walters State Community College
To qualify for a Physical Therapist license, you must receive a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited university that is accredited from CAPTE. There are 5 universities that offer the appropriate requirements:
- Belmont University
- East Tennessee State University
- Tennessee State University
- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
- The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Step 2: Complete the National Certification Examination
To receive a license, the Physical Therapist or Physical Therapy Assistant must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. Registration with the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) is required.
Step 3: Apply for a Tennessee License
The application process is the same for both Physical Therapists and Physical Therapy Assistants:
- Complete and submit an application to the Tennessee Department of Health.
- Submit your National Physical Therapy Examination test results.
- Request official transcripts from the accredited school attended.
- If the applicant has held a license from another state, a statement from the Board of Physical Therapy must be submitted.
Step 4: Continuing Education for Maintaining Licensure
To keep licensure active, Physical Therapy Assistants must complete 20 hours of continuing education; Physical Therapists must have 30 hours of continuing education. This must be done every two years. Applicants can find more information by visiting the Tennessee Department of Health.