Top 8 Physical Therapy Certifications by Specialty

PT Specialties

Get Your Physical Therapy Certification and Earn more in Advanced Specialty Jobs

In the competitive field of physical therapy, you need an edge. If you’re looking for a higher physical therapist salary, preferential treatment in hiring and, most importantly, a huge upgrade in the level of service you provide your patients, you can fulfill all these and more career ambitions by getting certified in a physical therapy specialty ASAP!

We hope all PTs seeking physical therapist certification will jot down the relevant dates and info available in this post; we’ve taken it from a physical therapy source you should bookmark—the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)—timely information regarding your future physical therapist certification is displayed on their website.

But don’t wait—visit APTA’s Professional Development page today, where you’ll have the opportunity to earn Continuing Education credits in virtually all areas of physical therapy specialty; also in the spotlight, is a call to register NOW for the 2010 Annual PT Conference in Boston, June 16-June 19—it’s a great way to network, and investigate the newest products and services.

In addition to your review of the 8 physical therapy specialties outlined here, take heart in other forms of supportive PT literature, offering physical therapy career tips for success.  Remember that professions like orthopedic physical therapy, sports physical therapy and all allied healthcare jobs on this list come with top therapy job benefits.

Without further ado, here is the Top 8 list:

1.    CCS (Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Certified Specialist)

  • Your patients:
    • Have recently undergone heart or lung surgery
    • Have been diagnosed with disorders of the heart or lungs
    • Medical conditions seen by CCS:
    • Hypertension
    • Chronic heart failure
    • Pulmonary fibrosis
    • Bronchitis
  • Your professional goal:
    • Increase stamina of heart and lungs; improve their function
    • Promote functional independence of patients

2. ECS (Clinical Electrophysiologic Certified Specialist)

  • Your patients are:
    • Active individuals; their lifestyles or work conditions led to disorder
    • Those who experienced a high degree of trauma
  • Medical conditions seen by ECS:
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Injured War veterans
    • Car accident victims
  • Your professional goal:
    • Treat your patients through the use of a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit
    • Improve recovery outcomes by conducting electromyogram and nerve conduction velocity testing (EMG /NCV).

3.    GCS (Geriatric Certified Specialist)

  • Your patients are:
    • Elderly people suffering from a wide range of conditions
    • Elderly patients recovering from surgeries, i.e. hip or joint replacement
  • Medical Conditions seen by GCS:
    • Arthritis
    • Osteoporosis
    • Cancer
    • Incontinence
  • Your professional goal:
    • Reduce discomfort
    • Hasten recovery
    • Improve mobility

4.    NCS (Neurologic Certified Specialist)

  • Your patients are:
    • Recovering from a traumatic brain injury
    • Receiving rehabilitation therapy after diagnosis of neurological illness
  • Medical conditions seen by NCS:
    • Cerebral palsy
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Parkinson's disease
    • Spinal cord injuries
    • Stroke victims
  • Your professional goal:
    • guiding patients in learning to function independently
    • helping patients deal with issues related to neurological disorders, i.e., paralysis or problems with balance and coordination

5.    OCS (Orthopaedic Certified Specialist)

  • Your patients are:
    • individuals suffering from chronic conditions
    • patients seeking rehabilitation post-surgery
  • Medical conditions seen by OCS:
    • All injuries, diseases and challenges related to the musculoskeletal system
  • Your professional goal:
    • To administer an array of treatment options and uniquely tailored therapy plans

6.    PCS (Pediatric Certified Specialist)

  • Your patients are:
    • Infants
    • adolescents
  • Medical conditions seen by PCS:
    • challenges related to many types of disorders.
    • Disorders that categorize a child as “special needs”
  • Your professional goal:
    • help the patient build strength, increase fitness levels or develop gross and fine motor skills
    • improve the patient’s coordination and stability.
    • Detect physical issues early to ensure the best course of treatment.

7.    SCS (Sports Certified Specialist)

  • Your patients are:
    • Athletes
  • Medical conditions seen by SCS:
    • evaluation and treatment of patients' active and chronic pain
  • Your professional goal:
    • preventing injuries
    • preparing athletes for maximum physical exertion
    • equipment recommendations and tips on enhancing performance.

8.    WCS (Women's Health Certified Specialist)

  • Your patients are:
    • Women of childbearing age
    • Menopausal and perimenopausal Women
  • Medical Conditions seen by WCS:
    • Pregnancy and post partum issues
    • Lymphedema
    • osteoporosis
    • pelvic pain
    • urinary incontinence
  • Your professional goal:
    • Helping and educating women of all ages with discomfort caused by both short term and chronic conditions.

Look for 2011 applications for Board Certification as a Clinical Specialist—in the 8 different areas of physical therapy specialties we’ve outlined above—at the end of April, when they become available on the APTA site!