Many students ask us about the specialization areas and certification offering ABPTS for the professional physical therapist after DPT degree. For the advancement of your career and go towards the next level of research, methodologies you get some specialize area certification. Although job growth in this area is very great but also very competitive. So, if you have some experience and these certifications, then you can easily beat the expert also.

In the light of undeniable facts, the total workforce of Physical Therapists in the USA is 245,000 presently. By the same token, the majority of these Physical Therapists work in Education Centers, Research Facilities, Hospitals et cetera without any specialization.

According to the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS), only 24,000 out of 245,000 Physical Therapists are certified specialists in their specific area. The estimated job growth for Physical Therapists is 30% referenced with an 8-year projection. With that in mind, it’s very clear how specialized Physical Therapists may thrive in the future.


Following are the Physical Therapy Certifications offered by ABPTS:

1. Cardiovascular & Pulmonary

What the role of a physical therapist treating patients of Pulmonary? Sometimes patient attack due to emotional stress, mental illness or other spirituality causes, so through physical therapy, therapist deal with successfully.Cardiovascular & Pulmonary

The certified Physical Therapists in this area are experts with the health issues relating to heart (Cardio) and lungs (Pulmonary).

The patients who have experienced pulmonary or cardio issues would be very familiar with the need of a Physical Therapist. The therapists provide cardiac rehabilitation. Moreover, physical therapists help these patients build more endurance to help them become as independent as humanly possible.

For exam Dates and Applications:

2. Clinical Electrophysiology

This particular certification deals with the diagnosis of nerve-related injuries.

Clinical Electrophysiology

It includes Electromyography and healing of wounds. Electromyography is a technique used to determine the condition of neuromuscular pathways, nerves, and muscles. Some soft tissue, back pain muscles, muscles around the neck and others injury may lead towards bad impact.

For exam Dates and Applications:

3. Oncology

Therapists specialized in this area work with tumor and cancer-related patients. These type of patient needs some kind of relaxing therapy, in some cases, when everyone knows about the END-TIME, so therapist usually speech therapist just trying to relax patient time and remove stress.


Cancer patients may recognize the vital need of these specialists. Physical Therapists help these patients gain independence by helping them evolve emotionally and physically.

For exam Dates and Applications:

4. Women’s Health

This is a women’s health specialist certification. The experts are concerned with issues relating to women’s physical evolution. Women internally issue, specifically treated through physical therapy during pregnancy or after pregnancy.

This specialization compliments the need of care that women’s body may require after birth. Although, that is not what this is limited to. This field helps to determine how women’s neuromuscular and neural pathways differ from men. The aim for these specialists to help women thrive after a child’s birth, injuries and traumas.

For exam Dates and Applications:

5. Geriatrics

The specialist in this area is inclined with the physical issues relating to the elderly. With advancements in medical health and more survivals, these specialists are very vital for old people.Geriatrics

Some elder people may have diseases as an inability to feel sensations or Parkinson’s disease. These specialists focus on the individuality of these elderly patients and help them with their physical exercises.

For exam Dates and Applications:

6. Neurology

The APTA approved this certification, particularly for it deals with patients related to stroke. Stroke injuries are neuromuscular in nature hence the separate specialization in neurology.

These Physical Therapists may also help patients who have recently had brain related or spinal cord injuries. Neurological Physical Therapists work in hospitals, privately in homes for a long or short period.

For exam Dates and Applications:

7. Orthopedics

The highest number of specialized Physical Therapists fall into this category. Reason being, the nature of the job of a Physical Therapist.Orthopedics

The unclear and usual idea of a Physical Therapist is to help a human thrive physically, hence the highest number of specializations i.e. 13,000+.

For exam Dates and Applications:

8. Pediatrics

The specialists deal with children suffering from genetic diseases such as Down syndrome. The experts in this area are equipped with special training and empathy relating to children health. Pediatric job is listed in the top 10 highest paying job in the US. Therefore, those therapists get this certificate may require lots of experience as well in low vision and autism therapy.pediatrics

These therapists also deal with children who have had premature births. They help their patients in eliminating future risks for these children.

For exam Dates and Applications:

9. Sports

Lastly, certified Physical Therapists in this expertise deal with patients having sports injuries. 50% therapist work in sports, due to lots of benefits besides a higher salary. With gaining lots of experience in different areas of peoples, they become master in their field.

These specialists may have jobs as doctors in the sports department of schools; international/national sports teams et cetera.

For exam Dates and Applications:


10. Establishing a Specialty

The ABPTS governed by APTA (American Physical Therapy Association) has interestingly provided a petition option.

Young and enthusiastic Physical Therapists who may wish to work in a unique area can use this facility. It allows the applicants to submit in a specialty idea to ABPTS. The APTA looks into it and you might end up establishing a new specialty if you clear the research phase.

Overall, the Physical Therapists who wish to continue their careers in this field should opt for one of the above options. The numbers of specialists are less while the opportunities in the field are continuously increasing.

Why do I want to get certified? Here’s why:

As you can see, the number of certified specialist Physical Therapists are very low. One of the reasons I reckon is because we are in a transition period.

With advancements in technology and medical health, more and more survivals are becoming possible. More stroke issues, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases are receiving treatment hence increasing the number of people who require therapy.

The APTA is consistently working for awareness and a better understanding of Physical Therapy in our normal everyday lives. In like manner, more people are discovering Physical Therapy while the doctors refer more of their patients to therapists.

If you have specialized certification in your resume it makes you stand out. Patients tend to look for doctors who have a specialty or specific training in the area they require treatment.

A stroke patient would prefer someone with neurological background, similarly, a person with a broken leg opts for an orthopedic therapist.

In this regard a specialized certification makes you stand out. Moreover, the Physical Therapists, as a result, get to stay in touch with their area of expertise. A specialization compels them to stay up to date with their field of work.

Future of Physical Therapy Certifications

Given the present figures, only 12% of the total NPTE registered Physical Therapists have specialization. This makes the future of specializations very bright. The majority of these specialized Physical Therapists are above 40 years old.

The new graduates, if interested, should aim for specialization from the dawn of their career. Most Physical Therapists with specialization right now have obtained their certifications at the twilight of their career. Although, I highly oppose this act for future professionals in this field.

Pre-Requisites for Certification/Specialty Exam

There are certain pre-requisites for each Physical Therapy Specialty exam, which are present on ABPTS website. However, according to my research, following two are most vital for mentioning:

  1. The applicants need to have 2000 hours of experience within 10 years from the dawn of their career. Moreover, 25% of the 2000 hours must be within 3 years.
  2. The applicants must have in their resume a valid residency program with other physicians.

For obvious reasons, this pre-requisites requirement is to make sure the applicants are eligible for taking a specialty exam. The 2000 hours of experience in 10 years and then further hours make sure the therapist is equipped with the required knowledge and expertise.

To announce the Physical Therapists as certified professionals in a specific area of work is a responsible task. Therefore, it requires criticality to manage.

Career after getting Physical Therapy Certifications

Following are the ABPTS certifications and the certification holder average annual salaries:

ABPTS Registered Physical Therapy Certifications Average Annual Wage in USD($) With Certification by 2018
Cardiovascular & Pulmonary $44,125
Clinical Electrophysiology $74,387
Oncology $85,650
Women’s Health $74,520
Geriatrics $82,000
Neurology $70,000
Orthopedic $72,000
Pediatrics $83,325
Sports $65,000

Salary Factors:

Following are the variables which may be responsible for the amount of salary but are not limited to:

  1. Working Experience
  2. Workplace
  3. Geographical Location
  4. Type of Specialization

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Physical Therapy Certifications:

  1. Do I need separate specialization certification for each state?

Answer: No. The certifications offered by ABPTS are valid in all 50 states. The certifications are a recognition of who you are as a Physical Therapist and that is different from licensure.

  1. What are the pre-requisites for a Physical Therapy Certifications?

Answer: The pre-requisites for a Physical Therapy Certifications are present on the ABPTS official website, under the specific certification. You can move on to the following link and continue from there:

  1. Where can I apply for a Physical Therapy Certification Exam?

Answer: You can head on to the following website link to apply for the Physical Therapy Certification Exam.


  1. Does a specialized Physical Therapist earn more than its counterpart?

Answer: The salary of a Physical Therapist may depend upon the graphical location and working facility as well but in most of the cases, a specialized therapist (by having more experience and certification) earns more than a normal physical therapist.

  1. Is it possible to take the certification test online?

Answer: As of now, this facility is not present. However, in future, if it ever exists, the announcement will first be on ABPTS official website.


  1. What are some Physical Therapy Specialization areas?

Answer: As explained above in the article, the following are some accredited Physical Therapy Specializations which ABPTS manages (APTA manages ABPTS):

Cardiovascular & Pulmonary, Clinical Electrophysiology, Oncology, Women’s Health, Geriatrics, Neurology, Orthopedic, Pediatrics, and Sports. ABPTS also allows you to submit a petition for your own specialty in your field of interest.

Note: For more information about any of certification, you can request team

Dr Kiran
Dr. Kiran Wills working as Licensed Physical Therapist PT, DPT in Brooklyn New York. Also providing consultancy to many private fitness centers and career counseling institute.
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