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American Board of Physical Therapy SpecialtiesThe American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) offers several specialist certification programs for licensed physical therapists. These programs provide formal recognition that physical therapists have the required advanced clinical knowledge, experience, and skills to become a designated specialist in one of the eight areas of practice that the ABPTS certifies. 
The different physical therapy specialties that are certified through the ABPTS include:
  • Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Certified Specialist (CCS)
  • Clinical Electrophysiologic Certified Specialist(ECS)
  • Geriatric Certified Specialist(GCS)
  • Neurologic Certified Specialist(NCS)
  • Orthopedic Certified Specialist(OCS)
  • Pediatric Certified Specialist(PCS)
  • Sports Certified Specialist(SCS)
  • Women’s Health Certified Specialist (WCS)
Physical therapists who hold a current certification from ABPTS as a specialist can be referred to as a “board-certified physical therapy clinical specialist” or a “board-certified clinical specialist”. The appropriate designation uses the initials “CS” (Certified Specialist) followed by the initials of the specialty area. For example, a Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Certified Specialist would be designated by “CCS”.


Eligibility Requirements
Minimum eligibility requirements for all physical therapist specialist certification examinations:

  • Must hold current license to practice physical therapy in the United States
  • Application review fee: $500 (APTA Member) / $845 (Non-APTA Member)
  • Examination fee: $800 (APTA Member) / $1,525 (Non-APTA Member)
  • Application Deadlines:
    • July 1 – Cardiovascular & Pulmonary, Clinical Electrophysiology, and Women’s Health
    • July 31 – Geriatric, Neurologic, Orthopaedic, Pediatric, and Sports
  • See additional minimum eligibility requirements by specialty areas


Physical Therapy Specialist Stats
The number of physical therapists that are currently certified specialists in the United States (as of June 2012).

  • Cardiovascular & Pulmonary (176)
  • Clinical Electrophysiology (156)
  • Geriatric (1,422)
  • Neurology (1,102)
  • Orthopedics (7,655)
  • Pediatrics (1,178)
  • Sports  (1,094)
  • Women’s Health (154)