Fastest Physical Therapy State License Timelines

As a travel physical therapist, you may work close to home or far away. You could potentially be working over the course of your career in several different states. I actually recommend this, as different states can provide awesome adventures, opportunities to expand your career, and may provide you better pay packages to conquer your student loans!

In this post, you will learn:

  • The states that have the fastest license application timelines. This will enable you find more travel PT positions faster and easier!

  • The steps required to obtain a state license in order to be more successful and travel to more locations as a physical therapist!

The Steps To Obtain New State Licenses For Travel Physical Therapists:

Once you have you graduated from an accredited program and received your first physical therapy license, the method to get your next license is extremely easy!!!

Most importantly, you DO NOT need to take the NPTE test again!!! Nope, just do a little paperwork, maybe finger prints or background check and “Voila!”

Here are the usual steps (although some may not be required for certain states): All these steps will be stated in each specific state’s application. 

1. Transfer your NPTE scores. You can transfer your scores by going to the FSBT website. There may be a fee and this process may take roughly a week to transfer scores. *Don’t worry about the fee! If you use this state’s license in your travel assignments then you will get reimbursed for the license application as well as all the other fees like transferring your scores or transcripts!

2. Verify your current licenses. There may be a specific form in the respective state license application that will go over their process and what is entailed to verify your license. Simply follow their directions and pay the fee if applicable. Verifying your license usually means that you need to send the state a copy of your current license.

3. Transcripts: Some states may require a transfer of your transcripts. Note that your transcripts must be originals, sent in an unopened envelope to your respective state and not copies. If transcripts are required, their should be detailed steps and a specific form in the application. There may also be a fee but this is usually only around $10.

4. Some states may have law exams required. See their application for details. Don’t worry, these law exams are usually really easy. The California law exam was about 50 questions, it was a little tricky but you could memorize the rules in 1-2 days. New Jersey’s exam for example was open book, online, and took about 1 hour.

5. Some states may require specific continuing education units to be completed. See their application for details.


States With 2 Weeks Or Less Of License Processing Timelines:

I found the states that have processing timelines 2 weeks or less! Now, these timelines can vary and during peak season of May-July when lots of physical therapists are graduating, this may be longer!



How Many Licenses Can A Physical Therapist Hold??

There’s no limit to how many of these licenses you can get! However, the application and bi-annual fee’s do add up so choose wisely! I recommend that you only get a certain state’s license if you are 100% confident you will work in that state! That way you’ll reimbursed for the application!


What License Should You Get? How Should A Travel PT Choose Which State License To Get?

There are a lot of different states, each with a unique value to a physical therapist. All this freedom and flexibility can provide a challenge to know where to travel to next! If you are looking for more awesome tips, vetted recruiters, and mentorship as a new or potential traveler, simply click here to schedule your FREE mentor call with me



Here’s 3 things to think about to help guide your choice of next state license and assignment!

1. Do you have family, friends, relatives in the area that you could spend time with, have fun, and potentially stay with?

Traveling can be lonely! If you can choose assignments near the people you know and love, then your assignment will likely be more enjoyable. If you are a new graduate, you will also feel more comfortable being near people who can support you through your learning curve.

In addition, finding affordable, furnished, safe housing is key to a travelers success! If you can stay with family and friends, you likely be comfortable and safe. Hopefully they’ll cut you a deal on rent too! This could potentially save you thousands over the year!

2. Do you have an landmark or adventure you always wanted to do in that area? 

Some people have always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon or see the Pacific Ocean. Traveling is great for adventure as well as professional development and finances.  Your choice of next state license could be based off of what adventure you want to do next!

3.  What is the pay rate in that area?

Some states and locations within respective states may pay better than others! As a traveler, if paying off your student debt is your goal, you may want to look for states that have low cost of living and a high pay rate!


Travel Companies Will Pay For Your State License!

As I have mentioned throughout this article, many travel companies reimburse for each state license you obtain! The only rule is that the license must be fairly recent and that you must use this license for one of your travel assignments!

For example, if you get a Ohio license but you never do a travel position in Ohio- unfortunately then you will not reimbursed! But say you get your California license and then several months later you work a travel assignment in California- then you would definitely get reimbursed! Now say you got your California license and then 1 year later you want to travel, you likely aren’t going to get reimbursed for this license. But…say you do an assignment around when this license is up for renewal, then you will likely get reimbursed for your license renewal fees!

In addition, many companies pay you back for the license fee but also any other fees such as the cost to transfer your transcript, background check and postage. That could be a savings of $200 or more per state!!

****I have to add a caveat here! So all reimbursements come out of your pay. Meaning, If you get paid $200 for your license, then maybe you for you whole package are getting $0.50 less an hour (not a strict example, just making this situation up for clarification).  Before 2018, if you did not want to take the reimbursement from your company for your license then you could buy the license yourself and write this off from taxes. This would be similar for scrubs and other work gear and for relocating to each assignment. However, with new tax laws (I’m not a tax expert so check the IRS website for further clarity) you cannot take these deductions – instead the standard deduction has been raised.

So should you choose to pay it on your own or have the company pay it? In my opinion, if you can no longer deduct this then why not accept this as reimbursement which is TAX FREE.  If you paid for your license as of 2018 you cant take any deductions plus you have to pay for license plus get taxed on the higher way you will earn. So I think you come out a little on top if you choose the take the license reimbursement AS LONG AS you drop in earnings for the contract is equivalent. Meaning, don’t take the $200 reimbursement if your wage drops $1.00/hr as that would be 40hours x 1 hr x 13 weeks: $520. So if you took the reimbursement a wage drop of $1.00 you have actually lost $320.  So you want to make sure your earnings difference is the same as the reimbursement you receive! Hope that makes sense! If you have any questions I recommend asking your recruiter to walk you through the different pay packages.

How can you keep track of all of your state licenses? 

Keeping track of your state licenses and even the CEU’s required for each state is easy!!! When you apply for each of your licenses, you are required to provide an address. When your license is about to expire, every state is required to mail you a reminder that your license is about to come due. So you can literally just go about your business until you get that letter. You can also set a reminder on your calendar – but 2 years is pretty far in advance to schedule in your calendar!

Renewal is often very easy and takes about 5 minutes. You simply log in to the state’s portal, answer basic personal questions (name, address etc), and then pay the renewal fee.

For your CEU’s, what I recommend is a online provider such as MedBridge (by the way, for 40% you can simply use the code DEBTFREEpt). By using an online provider, they have a nice dashboard that keeps track automatically of every course you take within their business. So if you get audited, or if you want to know how many more credits you need to fulfill your license requirements, you can simply look on the dashboard of these online CEU providers.

Looking for an absolutely free checklist that has every state’s CEU requirements and if there are any live or in person requirements? You can get this for FREE by going to my Facebook group Travel Therapy 101


If you are looking for more awesome tips, vetted recruiters, and mentorship as a new or potential traveler, simply click here to schedule your FREE mentor call with me


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