Author Topic: Spending $ to $: Professional Certifications (Physical therapist)  (Read 2286 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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I am looking for clarification on whether or not it is financially worthwhile to pursue a professional certification (Orthopedic Certified Specialist for any PTs on here) with an out of pocket cost of $1000-2200 depending on if my employer will subsidize it. Current salary is low six figures in HCOLA. Basically it requires studying for and passing a multiple choice exam in order to say I'm a Certified Orthopedic Specialist. It's recognized by our professional organization and is legitimate.

I currently work at a job with specific step increases based on longevity so it's doubtful this cert would earn me a raise at my current job, and I'm not sure if it might help me get something in the future. I saw one study from the professional org that said 50% of employers view it as worthwhile and would give a raise, but that means 50% would not.

Knowledge: would have to study and learn info
Time at job to study
Possible salary increase?
Confidence boost
Relocating next year, may help get job or if become SAHP could be useful on resume if I go back to work eventually

Cost: already spent six figures on education and vowed not to spend a dime more
Pregnant and will have a newborn at time of fixed date testing
Is it actually worthwhile? I spent lots of money on another cert that I don't think was...

Any insight/feedback appreciated.

Thank you.

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  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Location: Minnesota
Re: Spending $ to $: Professional Certifications (Physical therapist)
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2017, 09:35:14 AM »
It sounds like it would be a relatively low cost investment for your future & potential job search, so in that sense I'd definitely say it's worthwhile to pursue.   But I personally wouldn't want to take that on at the same time as a new baby.   You mentioned the exam date is fixed - could you do at a later date?  That would probably be the best option. 


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Spending $ to $: Professional Certifications (Physical therapist)
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2017, 08:12:54 AM »
will have a newborn at time of fixed date testing

This is a significant issue, if it is a difficult exam. Some newborns sleep pretty well, for newborns (ie badly, and you will be very tired). Some newborns have colic and basically don't sleep at all (tired does not describe what you will experience). Plus, if you're a first time parent, there's a learning curve.

What are the maintenance requirements on the certification? Additional exams every few years? Fees? CEUs required?


  • Stubble
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  • Location: Oregon
Re: Spending $ to $: Professional Certifications (Physical therapist)
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2017, 05:35:02 AM »
Hi - I am a hiring manager for outpatient PTs, and I have a specialty certification myself. At my organization, we do not have an increased salary for staff with specialty certifications, but we do offer an incentive bonus for those who have successfully completed one. With hiring for new positions, I definitely weigh new candidates higher who have a specialty certification (or if they indicate they are preparing for sitting for an exam).

My personal experience is that simply preparing for the specialty certification exam enhances your skill set significantly.  Differential diagnosis skills and effective treatment planning are the non-economic wins here. You are able to help your patients more effectively.

I recommend going for it. When the time comes, if you are feeling sleep deprived, perhaps you can defer your test date for a year and roll your application fee back?  Something to check into to see if that is allowed.

Good luck!