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Foreign Educated Physical Therapists

State Licensure Requirements, TOEFL, Supervised Clinical Practice, National Physical Therapy Examination Information

Every state in the United States including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands requires a license to practice as a physical therapist. Physical therapist assistants may be either licensed or certified depending on the state. In addition to having education credentials reviewed for substantial equivalency, every state requires the PT or PTA to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE®). However, other licensure requirements may vary from state to state. In addition to substantially equivalent education and the NPTE, there may be more requirements for licensure. Individuals wishing to be licensed in the United States must become aware of licensure requirements for the state in which he/she would like to work.

State Licensure Requirements - http://www.fsbpt.org/ExamCandidates/ApplyingforStateLicence.aspx and JLRG charts

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

The TOEFL is a standardized test to measure the English language ability of non-native speakers. The TOEFL provides a consistent and objective assessment of individuals’ abilities of the four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking. An applicant who is not a native English language speaker is often required to demonstrate the ability to safely and effectively communicate in English prior to obtaining a license in the United States.

The TOEFL is the only English proficiency exam accepted by FSBPT and USCIS for physical therapists. The United State Code of Federal Regulations lists exemptions from the USCIS English language requirements. Any individual that was awarded a Bachelor’s degree or higher from the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada (except Quebec) is not required by USCIS to take the TOEFL. Also, you do not have to take the TOEFL if you are a graduate of a CAPTE accredited education program. However, a state licensing board may still require you to take the TOEFL for licensure purposes.

For immigration purposes, federal regulations require minimum passing scores for the TOEFL. The jurisdiction where an individual wants to be licensed may have requirements that differ from federal regulations and/or FSBPT. As of 2020, the FSBPT will require the following scores on the TOEFL to be eligible to sit for the NPTE:

  • Reading – 22
  • Listening – 21
  • Writing – 22
  • Speaking – 24

For individual state requirements, click here.

Visit https://www.toeflgoanywhere.org for more information and to register for the TOEFL.

Supervised Clinical Practice (SCP)

The purpose of supervised clinical practice (SCP) is to promote public protection by evaluating the ability to clinically practice competently within the United States’ healthcare system. An SCP gives the applicant the opportunity to practice in a US healthcare setting under supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

A jurisdiction may require an individual to complete an SCP prior to becoming licensed. The jurisdictions may require approval of the facility, the supervisor, or both. For individual state requirements, click here.

NPTE Information - http://www.fsbpt.org/ExamCandidates/NationalExam(NPTE).aspx