If you are a licensed physical therapist, you have many career opportunities available to you. Many elect to work for a practice, clinic, or other type of healthcare facility that is already established; however, if you are interested in having a high level of autonomy, have a natural entrepreneurial spirit and have a desire to earn a higher income from your profession, you may want to consider opening your own physical therapy practice. One of the best states to engage in this activity – due to demand and the exceptionally high salary – is the State of Colorado. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn exactly what it takes to begin a clinic in CO.

Open Physical Therapy Business
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How to Get a Physical Therapy License in Colorado

In order to become a licensed physical therapist in the State of Colorado, you will only need to complete the following tasks:

  1. You will need to attend and graduate from a physical therapy program that is accredited by the organization known as the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. This is often referred to as “CAPTE”.
  2. Next, you will need to complete an application for a license. You may choose from two. These include License by Examination and the License by Endorsement. If you are planning on taking the National Physical Therapy Examination and have never applied, you should apply with the License by Examination. If you have obtained all requirements to practice physical therapy from another state and you are simply relocating to the State of Colorado, you should apply for the License by Endorsement.
  3. Once your application is approved, you may then take the National Physical Therapy Examination. This is offered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy or “FSBPT”. You must complete a two-step registration process and pass the examination to continue.
  4. Once you pass the test and receive your license to practice physical therapy in the State of Colorado, you will need to renew it every two years. You will need to earn at least 30 points towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD). This is done by participating in a CPD program, qualifying for what is known as the “Deem Status”, or you may qualify for an exemption if you are in the military.

What Kind of Practice Do You Want?

When it comes to opening up your physical therapy business in the State of Colorado, you have two choices when it comes to practice options.

The first option is solo leadership and the second is a partnership.

Do you want to run the practice on your own or do you want to have some assistance with the endeavor? While it may be tempting to go full on solo, be sure to consider the benefits that may come from having a partner. These include extra financial backing, additional experience, and connections.

There are also risks associated with partnerships. You should always seek out professional, legal assistance or counsel before committing to any type of business agreement or arrangement. If you go solo, just remember – it will ALL be on you. This includes debts, policies, procedures, and the administrative-based burden that stems from running a business.

If you are hesitant towards working solo or having a partner, you should consider joining a group practice. By choosing this, you can jump right in and will likely become involved with a clinic that is already experiencing high levels of success.

What Kind of Compensation Will You Accept?

When opening a physical therapy practice in the State of Colorado, it is imperative that you take into consideration the compensation that you receive.

Do you prefer cash? Are you willing to accept insurance?

Most PT practices have contracts with insurance companies. This will require that you provide services at a reimbursement rate agreed upon between your clinic and the insurance company. Patients will provide a copay. However, many practices are now going “out of network” and transitioning into a cash clinic.

If you want the freedom and flexibility of treating patients the way that they should be treated based on their personal health history and needs, cash-based payments are best. If you decide to work with insurance companies, you will have to go with their rules and guidelines, which often results in a “one size fits all” when it comes to patient treatments.

The only issue is, if you go to cash-only, you may not be able to provide individuals on Medicare or Medicaid services because many simply do not have the money to pay for cash-based services.

You will really have to carefully weigh this aspect of your business to decide which is right for you.

As you make your consideration, take into account the demographics of the community where your physical therapy practice will be located. Look around and see how other types of healthcare-based businesses are doing and what kind of model they are using. This could help you decide how successful you will be if you select the same model. If you live in a low-income area, for example, you should choose to accept insurance. If you live in a high-income area, you will likely do well by accepting cash for the services that your practice offers.

What is Insurance Credentialing?

If your practice is either partially or completely insurance-based, it will need to go through a process referred to as “insurance credentialing”. This is a process where your practice is accepted into the network of an insurance provider. The following outlines steps your practice should take to help speed up this process:

  1. First, obtain a tax ID number.
  2. Make certain that you obtain high-quality, comprehensive malpractice insurance.
  3. Get a National Provider Identifier. This is often referred to as a “NPI”.
  4. Make certain that your license is established that allows you to provide physical therapy services within the State of Colorado.
  5. Get a location set up for your physical therapy practice.
receptionist welcoming patient
photo source: pexels

How Do I Pick a Location for My Practice?

Before starting a practice, you will need to determine the best location. It is important to consider the services that you will offer and the demographics of the potential customers in the area that you are interested in placing your practice.

If there are other physical therapy clinics in the area, you should decide on a different area unless you offer much different services than the first.

You should consider how much you have to put down on the property and how much monthly payments you are able to – comfortably – make on the property.

You should meet with a leasing agent or a real estate agent. You should also enlist the assistance of a real estate attorney. Not only will this help in finding commercial properties that are available, but you will be provided with help on negotiating any contract, lease, or other relevant matters.

If you are unable to purchase a property, you may rent. In this case, you should obtain a tenant broker. These individuals will help protect your interests when it comes to the property.

How Much Space is Needed for a PT Practice in Colorado?

When shopping around for a location, consider how much space you will need to offer the services that you will offer. In many instances, you can go with a smaller building to start with, with the goal of moving into a larger one as your practice grows. Additionally, smaller spaces are usually easier to pay for.

It is best to only select the amount of space that you absolutely need instead of going really large in the beginning and putting out money on the space that you are not yet able to use.

If you are in search of an affordable solution, you should consider subleasing space that is located at the businesses of other types of health professionals or even health-related clubs and the such. This will save a lot of money, while providing you with what you need to get started.

Do You Have a Specialty?

If you are going to open your own physical therapy practice in the State of Colorado, it is imperative that you choose a specialty. You must stand out from the other therapists in and around your area. This will help in setting you apart from the competitors within the area. What do you enjoy? What is the market for that which you enjoy? Do you have a particular type of patient that you enjoy working with on a regular basis? What experience do you have in that which you enjoy? Is it possible to build a practice based on that which you enjoy?


We encourage you to join us here at Colorado Physical Therapy Network. This opportunity will allow you to network with other specialists and have access to the resources to ensure that your new physical therapy practice in the State of Colorado is successful. For more information, contact us today.

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