Becoming Physical Therapy Specialty Certified | Basic Overview


As a physical therapist, you likely enjoy the respectable salary and job growth that come with your profession. Additionally, you probably enjoy helping people recover and promote healthy lives. However, you may also wonder how you can advance your career more rapidly than simply by gaining experience. Perhaps one of the quickest ways to promote your own career growth, consider becoming physical therapy specialty certified! Whether or not you’ve begun asking yourself what kind of PT you are, you can explore specialty options. With less than 25,000 physical therapists ever being specialty certified, this is a great route to consider if you are looking to distinguish yourself further as a physical therapist.

What You Should Know About Becoming Physical Therapy Specialty Certified

Becoming physical therapy specialty certified

Options for Certification

Currently, the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS), an arm of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), offers nine distinct specialty certifications. Those specialties are as follows:

1. Cardiovascular & Pulmonary

Despite the first certification exam in this specialty being administered over 30 years ago, the ABPTS had only certified 282 specialists in this field as of June 2017.

2. Clinical Electrophysiology

Also available for more than 30 years, the clinical electrophysiology specialty is even less common. Since 1986, less than 200 specialists have been certified in this discipline.

3. Geriatrics

Geriatric physical therapists are certainly more common than either of the first specialties. As of June 2017, the ABPTS had certified 2,418 geriatric physical therapy specialists.

4. Neurology

While less common than geriatrics, the ABPTS has certified 2,290 neurology physical therapy specialists. The first neurology certification exam was offered in 1987.

5. Oncology

Oncology is the most recently approved physical therapy specialty. In fact, this specialty is so recent that there has yet to be an exam administered. While the specialty was approved in 2016, the first exam will not occur until 2019.

6. Orthopedics

Far and away the most popular physical therapy specialty, the ABPTS has certified 12,893 orthopedics specialists. These specialists have been certified since the first exam was administered in 1989.

7. Pediatrics

Pediatric specialists make up 1,749 of the ABPTS certified physical therapists. These therapists have been able to take the certification exam ever since 1986.

8. Sports

While many people likely think of sports therapists when physical therapy comes up, only 2,088 sports specialists have been certified since 1987. Of course, this is still a substantial number of specialists, but far from the majority of those certified.

9. Women’s Health

Finally, women’s health specialists make up 381 of the ABPTS certified physical therapists.

Why Become Physical Therapy Specialty Certified?

While there are countless reasons to consider looking for ways to advance your career, there are a few reasons that specialty certifications are specifically beneficial. For example, employer’s tend to view specialty certified physicians much more favorably than those without a certification. Of course, this is not to suggest that you must be certified to be successful. However, both employers and patients may be more likely to want to work with you if you do have a certification. While this, in and of itself, could be a compelling reason to consider becoming physical therapy specialty certified, it also implies the potential for a greater salary. After all, employers are often willing to pay more to attract more qualified candidates. Similarly, patients may be willing to pay more to work with the experts in their field.

Whatever your reason for considering specialty certification, there is certainly a lot to consider. If you’re looking for a new job, it might be worth looking into jobs that specifically look for candidates who are ABPTS certified. This can give you a good idea of what type of doors these certifications can open for you. Do you have questions about specialty certifications? Let us know in the comments below!

Author: Allied Travel Careers

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