• How the Recertification Process Works

    ABPTS offers the written examination and an alternative assessment option for recertification. This alternative assessment option is a Professional Development Portfolio or completion of an APTA Credential Residency Program. To complete a portfolio, candidates must document their professional development activities related to specialty practice. A framework of standard professional development categories were created to ensure consistency in assessing professional development activities. Each specialty council developed requirements for their specialty using the competency areas in the Description of Specialty Practice (DSP). To recertify, candidates must meet minimum eligibility requirements, including current physical therapy license and a minimum number of patient care hours since initial certification.

    When to Begin

    Certification is valid for 10 years. The expiration date is printed on the certificate. Certified specialists may apply for recertification as early as 3 years prior to their certification expiration date.

    Deadline and Consequences

    If a certified specialist does not complete the recertification process by the time his or her certificate expires, ABPTS will no longer recognize the individual as a certified specialist and will remove the individual's name from the Directory of Certified Specialists and will advise the individual that it would be unethical and a misrepresentation to publicly display the certification in any way or to use the certifying initials after his or her name.

    The recertification application deadline for specialists recertifying by taking the exam is December 31, 2020 and the deadline for specialists recertifying through the completion of an accredited residency program or Professional Development Portfolio is January 31, 2021.

    Please note: This represents a three-month extension of the application submission, eligibility, and payment deadlines due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As applications are reviewed in order of submission, potential applicants are encouraged to apply prior to the deadline to expedite the application review process. An option for an initial partial payment of the application fee will also be available. The application extension and/or partial payment option is automatically extended to all recertification applicants. Prior approval is not required. 

    Requirements for Recertification

    The minimum eligibility requirements established by the ABPTS for recertification are as follows:

    • Current licensure to practice physical therapy in the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands;
    • The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties has developed specific patient care experience requirements. Please refer to the Recertification Requirements and Forms booklet in your specialty area for information on specific patient care requirements. In general, candidates are required to document evidence of continued direct patient care activities in the specialty area, the equivalent of 200 hours per year since the date of most recent certification. Two hundred of the total hours must have occurred within the last three (3) years;
    • Direct patient care in the specialty area must include activities in each of the elements of patient/client management applicable to the specialty area and indicated in the Description of Specialty Practice (DSP). These elements, as defined in the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, are examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention.

    Applying for Recertification

    Candidates submit an application and review fee for recertification to document that they meet minimum eligibility requirements. Candidates either 1) state they intend to register for the next written examination or 2) submit their Professional Development Portfolio or 3) applicants may submit evidence of successful completion of an APTA-accredited post professional clinical residency, within the past 10 years, in lieu of the PDP or exam. Candidates who choose the Professional Development Portfolio assessment must submit their portfolio with their application. The Specialist Certification Program distributes the recertification application and Professional Development Portfolios for peer review. Candidates must meet all requirements by the deadline. The Specialty Council will only consider experience completed by the deadline date toward recertification requirements.

    The recertification application must be submitted online, along with the candidates Professional Development Portfolio. Contact the Specialist Certification Program for any questions or concerns regarding completing the online application.


    The recertification assessment fee of $650 for APTA members or $910 for nonmembers must be submitted with your application for recertification.

  • Last Updated: 10/26/2020
    Contact: spec-recert@apta.org