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Let’s Get Physical: How Many CEUs Are Required for Physical Therapists?

There are about 259,000 jobs for physical therapists in the United States. Over the next 8 years, the demand is projected to increase by 18%.

These jobs are in demand as the population ages. This is great news if you’re already a licensed physical therapist or you’re working towards becoming one.

It’s also really important to keep your license current. You spent years and a lot of money on your education. You need to keep your license current by attaining enough CEUs.

How many CEUs do you need? How do you get them? Where do you go for information?

Don’t worry about that last question. All of the information you need about CEUs for physical therapists is right here. Read on to find out more.

How Many CEUs Do Physical Therapists Have to Have?

What makes the answer to this question so confusing is that there are 50 different answers. There isn’t a national standard that makes up CEU requirements for physical therapists.

It’s up to each state to determine the CEU requirements. These requirements are usually set forth by each state’s Board of Physical Therapists.

Board members are usually appointed by the Governor of each state. The board members are usually practitioners or closely aligned healthcare practitioners.

They meet regularly to review complaints against licensed members, verify licensing requirements are met, and give information to physical therapists and physical therapy assistants.

Occasionally, board members will revise the licensing requirements, including CEUs.

What you’ll find is that most states require between 20-30 contact hours of continuing education. If you’re lucky enough to be in Maine or Massachusetts, you don’t have continuing education hours to complete.

South Dakota and Nevada only 15 contact hours. Illinois, Washington, Washington, D.C., Utah, and Oklahoma require 40 contact hours.

How Do You Count CEUs?

OK, as if 50 different answers isn’t enough, the terminology is even more confusing. When you look at the requirements for physical therapy CEUs, you’ll see them listed as CEUs or contact hours.

A contact hour is usually an hour of continuing education. A CEU equates to 10 contact hours. So, if your state requires 4 CEUs, they’re looking for 40 contact hours.

Some states will list their CEUs as CEU hours. If you see that your state says 15 CEU hours, they don’t mean 150 classroom hours. It’s likely to mean 15 classroom hours.

CEU Deadlines

Most states give you a two-year window to get your CEUs. If it were only as simple as two-years from the date you obtained your license.

Delaware and D.C. have deadlines of January 31 in odd-numbered years. Other states like Colorado have even-numbered years. California’s deadline falls at the end of your birth month.

You might think that these states are trying to get cute as to when CEUs are due. It can only add to your confusion. The best thing you can do is to mark the date on your calendar.

You also don’t want to wait until the last minute to complete your CEU requirements. Set a couple of deadlines for yourself as to when you want to complete the CEUs and when you want to renew your license.

What Happens If Your Licenses Lapses?

One important thing to note is that if you don’t meet the requirements, your license will lapse. That doesn’t seem like a bad thing until you realize that you can’t practice physical therapy because you’re no longer licensed.

Most states give you a grace period of a year to pay a renewal fee and complete your CEU requirements. If your license expiration extends beyond the grace period, you need to do more work.

You have to retake the exam, go back to school, pay the renewal fee, and complete the CEU requirements.

The requirements vary from state to state, so you need to be fully aware of what happens if you let your license go.

Let’s say that you plan to take a much-needed break from physical therapy. You are much better off keeping your license current.

How to Find CEU Classes

What do you need to do to find CEU classes? Take a closer look at the CEU requirements again for your state. There should be some kind of stipulation as to where you can get your CEUs from.

You can’t get your CEUs from just anywhere. You need to go to an accredited institution. Before you sign up for a class, make sure you can apply the CEUs to your state. Check with the state board and with the educational institution.

The next thing that you need to do is figure out what you’d most like to learn. Is there one area in physical therapy where you feel particularly weak? Perhaps you’re seeing an uptick in stroke recovery work and you want to help those patients more.

Write down 2-3 topics that would interest you the most and search for those courses.

As you go down the list, you’ll learn that there are opportunities in-person and virtually. You can take online courses, webinars, and in-person trainings.

Finally, you’ll need to weigh the costs of these trainings. Some CEU courses are less than $200. You can find CEUs for less, but you also need to make sure that the class is approved for credit in your state.

Take the Confusion From Physical Therapist CEUs 

How many CEUs do you need to maintain your physical therapy license? It depends on your state. Some states don’t require them, while others require 40 hours in the classroom.

You need to take control and check with your state’s requirements. Make sure you understand how many CEUs you need, the deadlines, and which courses are approved.

Need more career tips? Check out the Job Search section of this site for tips to find a job and nail the interview.

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