How to Get Started on Your American Dream

Hello everyone! I know most of the new PT grads are planning to get jobs in the US. It can be very overwhelming and confusing, so I’m offering tips on how to get started.

(Note: the procedure on this post is for applications from the Philippines)

If you have an agency or employer who will pay for your licensure, they may have a local agency here who will assist you with the process. Here is a general idea of what you’re going ro go through before getting to the US…

1. Decide on the state where you want to apply.
Each state will have a specific list of requirements for you to be qualified to take their licensure exam. To save you a lot of time and money, I suggest you go to for the licensing authorities per state. Check their websites or contact them so that you have a specific idea on their requirements, or if your education credits will be enough to be qualified for licensure.   

2. Check the necessary documents for credentialling / visa screening.

A must for all states is that you have yourself undergo a credentialling process through a credentialling agency determined by the state. These can either be the FCCPT, ICD, IERF, etc., and will depend on the state. If your credentialling does not include a visa screen (a requirement if you’re planning to enter the US through a working or immigrant visa; or eventually change your status), you will need to have this done separately. Read the instructions carefully and make a list of all the required documents. Make sure you double check these before sending to avoid delays in processing your papers. This usually takes about 2-6 months to complete so better have this done before anything else.   

3. Apply for and take the english proficiency tests if necessary (TOEFL IBT).

This is also a requirement for visa screening. Again, given the large number of applicants, it will take some time for you to take the exam so better have this done ahead.

4. Review for the NPTE.

Once you’ve gotten the credentialling and english exam applications started, you may opt to start reviewing for the NPTE. A comprehensive review may take about 6 months, but you can actually prepare for the NPTE in about 2 months as long as you keep a schedule of about 6-8 hours a day and stick to it.
Topics sensitive to the NPTE are Musculoskeletal (Basic Anatomy/Kinesiology) and conditions, Neuroanatomy/Neurophysiology and conditions, Pediatrics, Cardio-Pulmo, Orthotics-Prosthetics, Assessment Procedures, Tests and Measures, Therapeutic Exercise, Administration (including the US Healthcare System), Ethics (Guide to PT Practice).

5. Get your Alien Identification Number (AIN)

Foreign graduates without a US Social Security Number will need to apply for this as their temporary, unique ID number for use by the FSBPT during the licensure process. This does not expire. You may get the application form from the FSBPT website.

6. Apply to your state of choice to sit for the NPTE.

Basic requirements are: Credentialling, English exams or proof of English as language of instruction, completed application forms and payment. Some states require pre-requisite online courses such as HIV/AIDS knowledge and medical error prevention, fingerprinting, a local laws and rules / jusrisprudence exam, etc. Again, confer with your state of choice to make sure you have everything ready.

7. Apply to the FSBPT for your Authorization to Test (ATT), and to PROMETRIC for your exam

Once the state determines you to be eligible to take the exam, they will instruct you to register with the FSBPT for you to take the NPTE. This will require payment and application online. Remember that once you have the ATT, it will be valid for only 60 DAYS, so be sure to plan your test schedule within the validity period. If you do not, you may need to re-register with another set of payments. Once your ATT is approved, you may apply online at for your exam.

8. Apply for your embassy interview

Once you have your ATT, apply for your US embassy interview to take the exam in Hawaii or any US state.
They will usually look for your ATT, Prometric schedule or a contract from an employer, and proof that you are currently practicing PT. Remember to prepare all necessary papers that you think the consular officers may look for. For a complete guide, go to For embassy interview scheduling online, go to

9. Make travel arrangements for your exam

If your visa is approved, you may now make travel arrangements for your exam. If in Hawaii, most agencies now offer packages for exam takers which include airport-hotel-exam site transfers. Travel in a group to save money. Take note of peak dates for travellers (holidays or summer vacation) and book in advance if the airlines and hotels expect heavy traffic.

10. Passing the exam (Yay!) and getting to the US

Most PT’s taking the NPTE will already have an employer who paid for their exam and will assist them in the visa process. Or you may finish the licensure first before looking for an employer. Be sure to check their cred’s and remember that YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY ANY AGENCY FEE. All costs you incurred should be fully reimbursed. Read contracts carefully, have them read by a lawyer to make sure you don’t get confused by all that legal gobbledygook. Check if their salary offer is equivalent to your experience, and yout salary should be at par with those similar to your position in that state. Remember that you worked hard for this so make sure you’re not going to get ripped off. It pays to be nosy. :)

Just be patient, it’s a long process but getting there is easy, as long as you know where to ask for the correct information. Trust me, I’ve been there. :)

Please feel free to post questions under the forum section, and I will answer them as best I can. Good luck to all!!

Suggested reading:
Minimum Required Skills of Physical Therapist Graduates at Entry-level

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One thought on “How to Get Started on Your American Dream”

  1. hi!guys its cristy would you mind helping me to decide to look for an employer, right now i was confused if i’m going to sign up with this agenc its a foreign agenc located in alabama have you heard the Atlas Rehabilitation,LLC do you know someone who is under their program would you mind get their feedback if any and kindly forward them to me i’ve seen their program and based on my own perception they are all good but still i was hesitant to sign up. moreover, i just want to ask if there is any website that i can check if this agenc is legal and have a good standing in recruiting pt’s. please help me! coz i dont want to ruin my american dream because of this wrong decision.

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