30+ Best Certifications for Therapists: PT, OT, RT and SLPs

Best Certifications for Therapists | CareerStaff Unlimited

Do you have a career — or want one — in physical, occupational, speech, or respiratory therapy? If so, earning certifications is a great way to take your therapy job (and even your salary) to the next level. Certain professional certifications can also help you compete for specialized, high-demand jobs like home health or sports rehab. With that in mind, discover the best certifications for therapists to pursue, and how to choose the right ones for your career.

What Are the Benefits of Earning Therapy Certifications?

As opposed to a certification you earn after completing a formal educational program, professional certifications are proof that you’ve achieved certain skills. As such, they may be necessary for licensure in some areas. And some “certs” are required to land certain jobs — for instance, CPR/AED.

But beyond what’s necessary, many therapists also choose to pursue certain certifications because of the career benefits they offer. Although it doesn’t quite guarantee these things, professional certs can definitely boost your chances of:

  • Qualifying for higher pay because of additional skills or expertise you offer
  • Standing out to employers (whether by word of mouth or CV) by showing off your skillset
  • Earning trust from patients and co-workers
  • Building a great network with other professionals in your specialty
  • Having more opportunities to choose from — including research and other nontraditional jobs
  • Being able to create the career path you want, including earning more referrals in your chosen specialty

Best Certifications for Therapists: PT, OT, RT & SLP

But how can you tell which certification to pursue? If you’re not sure, you may get some ideas from co-workers, or from mentorship or fellowship programs, if available. In addition, a good rule of thumb is to pursue certifications that are accredited by an official board, like the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).

And to help you get started on the right foot, here’s a rundown of some of the best certifications for therapists in terms of employer demand and job opportunities. Eligibility requirements fluctuate; visit the official site link by clicking the name of the certification for all the details.

Best Certifications for Physical Therapists

The ABPTS is the country’s manager of official PT certification, and offers 10 board-certified specializations. Each has requirements like passing an exam or project/case report and completing either 2,000 hours of direct care or an approved residency:

Other PT Certifications

Many other certifications are also available to help support your preferred career path. Like ABPTS certs, these usually also include the need for licensure and passing an exam. Some examples include:

Basic but essential, Red Cross CPR/AED focuses on first response for emergencies and is sometimes required for more advanced certifications

Best Certifications for Occupational Therapists

Certifications can help unlock the best jobs for OTs. Besides the standard OT certification for National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) offers three professional certificates, each available upon the completion of a series of micro courses:

  • The Acute Care Professional Certificate documents “specialized knowledge” in acute care and discharge planning
  • The School-Based Practice Professional Certificate focuses on practicing in educational settings
  • The Home and Community Safety and Driving Professional Certificate focuses on assisting “community dwelling adults”

Other OT Certifications

Like PTs, OTs have a big list of potential certifications to choose from. Many are available for PTs and OTs, such as Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) and the Certification in Orthopaedic Manual Therapy (COMT), which develops general musculoskeletal (MSK) and hand-and-upper-extremity (UE) skills.

In addition, some of the best certifications for therapists in OT are from the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), which offers three certification programs that align with OT careers.

Best Certifications for Respiratory Therapists

Those who practice respiratory therapy must either be certified or registered with the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). Considered more advanced than certified registered therapists (CRTs), registered respiratory therapists (RRTs) must take more education (and an extra exam). But RRTs also tends to enjoy higher pay and more career opportunities.

In addition, CRTs are limited to a single official specialization, while RRTs may choose from four:

Other RT Certifications

On top of the standard specialties from the NBRC, both CRTs and RRTs will likely find more opportunities available to them with basic certifications like CPR/AED and Basic Life Support (BLS), which focus on providing a fast and effective response to life-threatening situations.

And RRTs who want to take their careers to the next level may soon have the option of becoming an advanced practice respiratory therapist.

Best Certifications for Speech Therapists

Practicing speech therapy requires earning the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC/SLP) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Speech therapists can also earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A) to specialize in hearing-related disorders.

You can also boost your job prospects by becoming a Board Certified Specialist (BCS), which require a specific amount of applicable experience and continuing education:

Other Certifications for SLPs and Speech Therapists

In addition to CCC and BCS certifications, speech therapists have many other options to specialize their talents. Some of the most popular speech therapy certifications include:

Related: Looking for a new SLP job? Start preparing with the most common SLP interview questions!

Explore the Best Jobs for Therapists

Ready to level up your therapy career? This short list of the best certifications for therapists is just the tip of the iceberg. Talk to your recruiter for more info on the best certifications for therapists on your career path. And if you’re looking for new therapy job opportunities — or a great recruiter — you’re at the right site!

Explore local, travel, and PRN therapy jobs across the United States now. Or, fill out a quick online application below to connect with a dedicated recruiter to get started.

Please note: All certifications listed here are presented purely for informational purposes. No endorsement with any board or organization exists or is implied by CareerStaff Unlimited.