If you're a physical therapist looking to take your career to the next level, specialized certifications can be a game-changer. They give you the knowledge and skills to provide top-notch care in specific areas of practice.
With a wide range of physical therapy specialties to choose from, you can focus on the areas that interest you most and become a true expert in your field. This is your opportunity to excel and make a real impact as a certified physical therapist.
Benefits to earning physical therapy certifications
Earning certifications as a physical therapist offers several benefits. It demonstrates your commitment to a specific area of care, showing patients, agencies, and facilities that you 're an expert in that particular field. Certifications also validate your proficiency in a specialized area, ensuring that you are equipped to provide optimal care for your patients.
Earning certifications also provides valuable networking opportunities, allowing you to connect with fellow clinicians, caregivers, and researchers in your field. Plus, certifications can lead to higher pay and increased career advancement, as advanced education and specialization often translate into higher pay and more opportunities for growth within the profession.
11 best physical therapist certifications
When it comes to certifications for physical therapists, there are several options to consider. These cover various specializations within the field of physical therapy (and some for physical therapy assistants), allowing PTs to offer specific physical therapist services in a particular area. However, all eleven certifications are board-certified from The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).
Cardiovascular and pulmonary specialist certification
The Cardiovascular and Pulmonary certification is a specialized credential for physical therapists. This certification signifies that you have advanced knowledge and experience in the clinical practice of cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy. Physical therapists with this certification are equipped to provide care for patients with acute or chronic cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions, including heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, or other emergency cardiovascular care.
Learn more about this certification here.
Geriatric Clinical Specialist Certification
The GSC certification gives a physical therapist the knowledge and skills needed to provide specialized care for older adults. It focuses on addressing age-related conditions, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and balance issues, to improve mobility, independence, and overall quality of life for elderly patients.
Learn more about gaining the professional education to help older adults continue to live active lives here.
Neurologic Specialist Certification
With the successful completion of this certification, physical therapists can treat patients with neurological conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease. They learn advanced techniques to enhance movement, coordination, and function, helping patients regain their independence and optimize their daily activities.
Board-certified clinical specialists with this specialty certification can make a massive difference with direct patient care. Learn more here.
Clinical Electrophysiologic Clinical Specialist
With this certification, physical therapists gain a deeper understanding of electrophysiology, a branch of physiology that focuses on the electrical properties of biological cells and tissues. Physical therapists also learn how to use electrophysical modalities, like ultrasound and electrical stimulation, to diagnose and treat various musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions. They also learn how to conduct specialized tests such as electromyography and nerve conduction studies, which are crucial in evaluating nerve and muscle function.
Learn more about this certification here.
Oncologic Clinical Specialist Certification
This certification focuses on treating patients who are undergoing cancer treatment or recovering from it. Physical therapists with this certification possess the knowledge to manage cancer-related symptoms, including pain, fatigue, and lymphedema. They design personalized exercise programs to improve strength, endurance, and overall well-being, enabling patients to better cope with the physical challenges of a cancer treatment plan.
Learn more here.
Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist Certification
The Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) certification in physical therapy is all about helping people with musculoskeletal disorders or conditions regain their physical abilities and prevent further disability. Orthopedic clinical specialists are experts in using advanced techniques like orthopedic manual therapy to improve patients' movement and function. They focus on treating both existing and potential problems in the neuromusculoskeletal system, using methods that correct, adapt, and protect against future issues.
Their goal is to help patients achieve optimal function and live their lives to the fullest. Learn more here.
Pediatric Clinical Specialist Certification
This certification equips a physical therapist with specialized skills to work with infants, children, and adolescents. They learn methods to address developmental delays, congenital conditions, and injuries, promoting physical development, improving motor skills, and enhancing overall function in pediatric patients.
Learn more here.
Sports Clinical Specialist Certification
Physical therapists with this certification specialize in working with athletes and active individuals. They gain expertise in sports-related injuries, performance enhancement, and injury prevention. Using specialized sports medicine techniques and exercise programs, they help athletes recover from injuries, improve athletic performance, and reduce the risk of future injuries. They may work with a team of other professionals, such as an athletic trainer.
Learn more about becoming a board-certified sports clinical specialist here.
Women’s Health Clinical Specialist Certification
This certification focuses on addressing musculoskeletal issues specific to women. A physical therapist with this certification provides specialized care for conditions such as pelvic pain, pregnancy-related musculoskeletal problems, and urinary incontinence. They employ techniques to enhance pelvic floor muscle function and promote overall women's health.
Learn more about this board certification here.
Certificate of Achievement in Pelvic Health or Obstetric Physical Therapy
The Certificate of Achievement in Pelvic Health or Obstetric Physical Therapy is a specialized educational program for physical therapists who want to expand their expertise in women's health. In this program, therapists learn about the anatomical, physiological, and psychosocial changes a woman undergoes during pregnancy, postpartum, and throughout her lifespan. Key areas of study often include pelvic floor dysfunction, pre and postnatal care, labor support, and treatment strategies for conditions such as urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, and musculoskeletal issues related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Learn more here.
Wound Management Clinical Specialist Certification
This physical therapy certification focuses on providing specialized care for patients with chronic wounds, such as diabetic ulcers or pressure sores. A physical therapist with this certification possesses the knowledge and skills to assess wounds, implement appropriate interventions for wound care, and collaborate with a multidisciplinary team to promote wound healing and prevent complications.
Learn more here.
FAQ about physical therapists
Does education make a difference in salary for physical therapist?
When it comes to the salary of a physical therapist, education does make a significant difference. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists with higher levels of education tend to earn more money.
Individuals who pursue advanced degrees or certifications in physical therapy often have the opportunity to specialize in specific areas, which can lead to increased earning potential. They may also have more opportunities for career advancement and leadership roles within the field of physical therapy. Investing in further education and obtaining a physical therapy certification can positively impact a physical therapist's salary and future career prospects.
How much does a physical therapist make?
When it comes to the salary of a physical therapist, it can vary based on factors such as education, experience, and specialization. According to sources such as USC DPT Programs and US News Best Jobs, the median annual salary for physical therapists in 2021 was around $95,620.
However, additional education, such as advanced degrees or certifications in physical therapy, can lead to higher earning potential in this field.
Why is physical therapy education important?
Physical therapy education plays a crucial role in the field, emphasizing the importance of obtaining proper knowledge and certification. It provides physical therapists with a comprehensive understanding of the human body, its functions, and how to address various conditions.
By pursuing physical therapy education and obtaining certifications, physical therapists gain the skills necessary to provide effective treatment, improve patient outcomes, and ensure safe and ethical practice. This education equips them with clinical reasoning and the expertise needed to assess, diagnose, and develop personalized treatment plans, ultimately improving the quality of care provided to patients.
What's the best physical therapy certification?
When it comes to finding the best physical therapist certification, it really depends on what you're looking to achieve in your career. You'll want to consider your own goals, what areas of specialization interest you, and what suits your personal preferences.
Luckily, there are quite a few reputable certifications out there that can really boost your career and expand your expertise in the field of physical therapy. So take some time to do your research and find the certification that's the perfect fit for you!
Earn certifications | Start traveling
Earning a physical therapist certification and continuing education can have a significant impact on job security and how much money you can make. Many employers value certified therapists, offering higher salaries and better job opportunities. Specialized certifications demonstrate your commitment to staying up-to-date with the latest advancements in your field, making you a desirable candidate for higher-paying positions.
If you're looking to boost your income even further, transitioning to become a travel physical therapist can be a great option. As a travel PT, you have the opportunity to work in different locations, often receiving higher pay rates and additional benefits such as housing allowances and travel reimbursements.
By combining continuing education courses with the flexibility of travel therapy, you can maximize your earning potential and embark on an exciting and financially rewarding career journey.