Credentialing and Licensing: The First Steps for Foreign-Trained Therapy Professionals to Take in Order to Work in the U.S.

Posted On October 3, 2012

If you’re one of the thousands of therapy professionals hoping to work and live in the United States, you’ll be glad to know that there is no shortage of demand for physical and occupational therapists throughout America. However, while opportunities are waiting to be filled, landing a job as a foreign-trained therapist is a bit of a challenge. This is because therapy professionals living outside the U.S. have to navigate through a series of obstacles

The first thing you need to do before you start exploring the possibility of working in the U.S. is to do a lot of research. This is important as you need to understand the application process clearly so that you don’t miss a vital step that might impede you from your end goal. Search online and you’ll find a lot of information about the necessary steps you have to take in order to fulfill your dream. Be voracious in your reading.

Find a reliable and trustworthy staffing agency that can provide you with knowledge and information in a timely manner. A competent agency will be able to answer any questions and clear any issues you might have.

Once you’ve acquired enough information and feel comfortable proceeding, select a state licensing board for processing and begin the licensure and credentialing process.

Credentialing

You will have to undergo a credentials evaluation in order to qualify for the national licensing exams. Credentialing is the process in which your education is assessed by authorized credentialing agencies to make sure that you, as a foreign-trained therapist, meet certain standards. Once your credentials pass the scrutiny of the credentialing agency, you’ll be allowed to take the national licensing exams.

For physical therapists, these are the credentialing agencies authorized by the US licensing boards and the United States Citizen and Immigration Service to review your credentials:

  • Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT) Website: www.fccpt.org
  • Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) Website: www.cgfns.org
  • International Consultants of Delaware, Inc. (ICD) Website: www.icdeval.com
  • International Credentialing Associates, Inc. (ICA) Website: www.icaworld.com
  • International Education Research Foundation, Inc. (IERF) Website: www.ierf.org
  • University of Texas at Austin (Credential reviews for Texas only)

Occupational therapists, on the other hand, will be assessed by:

Licensing

Foreign-trained physical and occupational therapists need to have a good grasp of the licensure process. Every state is different and each has their own licensure requirements. Make sure that you have all the necessary paperwork for your desired state.

You will need patience and tenacity. The credentialing and licensing process along with passing the national exam can take several months.  After you can begin the immigration process, which we will tackle in a future article.

The dream of working in America is a difficult one to pursue. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome but don’t despair. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. All you need to reach it is dogged determination. Remember, if you succeed the rewards will have been worth it. Good luck.