Career Map: Physiotherapist
This document was updated in January 2008 in collaboration with the Labour Market Integration Unit, Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. Requirements may have changed by the time you apply. Please contact the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators and the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario before completing your application.
Copyright in this career map is held jointly by the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and by the Ontario College of Physiotherapists, © 2008. This career map may be used or reproduced by any third party for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes, provided that no fee, payment or royalty of any kind shall be charged by the third party for any further use or reproduction of the career map by any person. Any proposed commercial or for-profit use or reproduction of this career map requires a written license from the Ontario College of Physiotherapists.
To practise physiotherapy in Ontario you must obtain a Certificate of Registration from the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario (the College). The College sets all registration requirements as outlined under the Physiotherapy Act and the Regulated Health Professions Act. You cannot practise as a physiotherapist unless you are registered with the College.
Physiotherapists work with their clients to plan and carry out individually designed physical treatment programs for the purpose of restoring functioning and preventing disability from disease, trauma or injury. Physiotherapists are also involved in consulting, educating individuals and groups, and in research. In Ontario, physiotherapists work as primary health care providers. Clients may make appointments with physiotherapists without being referred by a medical doctor. Physiotherapists work in a variety of settings including health clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation centres, nursing homes and community-based practice. Many are self-employed.
Registration Requirements in Ontario
To practise physiotherapy in Ontario you must be a registered member of the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario (the College). There are two main categories of registration: Provisional Practice and Independent Practice.
A Provisional Practice Certificate allows you to work as a physiotherapy resident while you are waiting to take the clinical component of the Physiotherapy Competency Examination. During this time period you must be monitored by a registered physiotherapist.
An Independent Practice Certificate allows you to practise independently as a physiotherapist in Ontario.
Documentation requirements for all categories of registration:
- A completed application form
- Evidence of Canadian citizenship, permanent resident status or an authorization under the Canadian Immigration Act to work in Ontario
- Signed and dated passport size photograph
- A notarized copy of your physiotherapy degree
- A letter from all physiotherapy regulatory bodies with which you have been licensed stating that you are a physiotherapist in good standing
Registration Application Process – 6 Steps
- Step 1 – Review of Credentials and Proof of Language Proficiency
- Step 2 – Physiotherapy Competency Exam Part One: Written Component
- Step 3 – Register for Physiotherapy Competency Exam Part Two: Clinical Component
- Step 4 – Provisional Practice
- Step 5 – Physiotherapy Competency Exam Part Two: Clinical Component
- Step 6 – Independent Practice
These steps are described in more detail below.
Step 1 – Review of Credentials
The Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (The Alliance) must review your credentials to determine whether your education and experience is substantially equivalent to (that is, evaluated to be equal to) that of Canadian educated physiotherapists. Please contact The Alliance to obtain an application form and a list of necessary documents for the review of your credentials. Their address is listed at the end of this document.
If The Alliance finds that your credentials are substantially equivalent to a Canadian educated physiotherapist you will be eligible to register for Part 1: Written Component of the Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE).
The Alliance uses the following three criteria to determine if your education and experience is substantially equivalent:
- Degree in physiotherapy from an accredited Canadian university or education that The Alliance determines as substantially equivalent.
- Eligibility to work as a physiotherapist in the country where educated. This must be verified with a certificate of registration, licensure or similar documentation.
- Proof of language proficiency in English or French.
You must show that you can understand, speak and write either English or French. If the language of your physiotherapy education was English or French you are exempt from language assessment. If you did not complete your physiotherapy education in English or French, you must write one of the following tests to prove your language fluency in English or French. You may be able to write these tests in your country before you come to Canada, but your test scores are valid for only two years. The test scores must be sent directly by the testing institution to The Alliance.
The Alliance will accept any one the following tests as proof of language proficiency:
- A total score of at least 585 on the paper-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with at least 50 on each of the three components, plus a score of at least 45 on the Test of Spoken Language (TSE); or
- A total score of at least 80 on the internet-based TOEFL with scores of at least 20 on the listening component, 19 on the writing component, 20 on the reading component and 19 on the speaking component; or
- A total score on the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) of at least 85, plus an oral interview rating of at least 3; or
- An average score on the CanTEST of at least 4, with no component lower than 4, plus an oral interview of at least 4.5; or
- A score of at least 7 on the International Language Testing System (IELTS); or
- A total score of 800 on the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC); or
- Applicants, who want to demonstrate language proficiency in French, can write the French version of the CanTEST or another test that is recognized by The Alliance. Please contact The Alliance if you are fluent in French.
For more information on these language tests contact the appropriate organizations. Each address is provided at the end of this document.
Prior Learning Assessment and Remediation
If The Alliance determines that your education is not substantially equivalent to the education of a Canadian-educated physiotherapist but is sufficiently close, you may be eligible for the Prior Learning Assessment and Remediation (PLAR) program.
Prior learning assessment gives you credit for education and experience that you obtained outside of academic physiotherapy education that is relevant to physiotherapy. Remediation is a program that offers courses to upgrade your physiotherapy education.
For further information on the PLAR program, please contact The Alliance.
Step 2 - Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE), Part One:
Written Component (Qualifying Exam)
The PCE consists of two parts. Part One is a written qualifying exam. You must successfully complete the qualifying exam before advancing to Part Two. Part Two is a clinical exam known as the Clinical Component (CC).
Part One: Written Component is offered several times a year. When you register to complete the written exam, The Alliance will send you an Orientation Resource package with information about the exam.
The exam is a written multiple-choice examination that tests your knowledge of physiotherapy. It includes questions on basic sciences, physical therapy theory, research, assessment, planning and treatment. The exam takes four hours to complete.
The exam is held at numerous sites across the country.
If you do not pass Part One: Written Component, you may repeat it two times within two years of the failed examination. Candidates who fail the written component three or four times are not eligible to re-write the exam unless they take further training, which must be approved by the Director of Examinations of The Alliance.
Step 3 – Register for the Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE), Part Two: Clinical Component
You must successfully complete Part One: Written Component before you can register for Part Two: Clinical Component. Although candidates must successfully complete the Written Component before advancing to the Clinical Component, candidates are encouraged to pre-register for the Clinical Component prior to the deadline dates indicated in the Candidate Handbook. Exam site assignments are based on the date the completed application is received. Positions are allocated on a first applied, first assigned basis. Candidates will not be automatically registered for the Clinical Component, nor will the deadline date for the Clinical Component be extended following the release of the results.
To register for Part Two: Clinical Component you must complete the appropriate application form and send it, with the required fee, to The Alliance.
The Clinical Component is offered twice a year. The location of the exam depends on how many candidates need to write it, and where they live. It is usually offered in Halifax, Ottawa (bilingual site) Toronto, Hamilton, Edmonton and Vancouver. Not all sites are available at each administration of the exam.
Step 4 – Provisional Practice
Once you have registered to take Part Two: Clinical Component, you may apply to the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario (the College) for a Provisional Practice Certificate. Please contact the College for an application form.
In addition to the documents required for all categories of registration, you must provide the following when you apply for a Provisional Practice Certificate:
- A completed application form
- A form sent by The Alliance confirming registration in the next available Clinical Component
- A signed monitoring agreement from a holder of an Independent Practice Certificate agreeing to provide the necessary monitoring throughout the duration of the provisional practice period
- The required application & registration fee
The Provisional Practice Certificate will allow you to work as a physiotherapy resident while being monitored by a registered physiotherapist. The certificate expires twelve weeks after the date of the clinical component of the PCE that the physiotherapy resident completes.
Step 5 – Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE), Part Two:
Part Two of the PCE is a clinical exam. It is a practical demonstration of your physiotherapy skills in a clinical setting and includes an assessment of your interaction with patients. It is designed to test your clinical skills of assessment, history taking, clinical problem solving, treatment and treatment planning and communication skills. The Clinical Component takes 4,5 hours.
If you fail the Clinical Component, you may repeat it two times within two years of the failed examination. Candidates who fail the Clinical Component three or four times are not eligible to retake the exam unless they take further training, which must be approved by the Director of Examinations of The Alliance.
Step 6 – Independent Practice
After you pass the Clinical Component, you may apply to the College for a Certificate of Independent Practice.
In order to work independently as a physiotherapist in Ontario, you must be registered with the College and have a Certificate of Independent Practice. Contact the College for an application form.
When you apply for a Certificate of Independent Practice you must submit a copy of the certificate provided by The Alliance that confirms successful completion of the Clinical Component. This is in addition to the documents required by all registration classes at the beginning of the registration process (see first page).
In order to continue practising as a physiotherapist in Ontario, you must renew your registration with the College on or before March 31 every year and pay the fee for the Certificate of Independent Practice. The renewal fee is the same as the initial registration fee.
Labour Market Information
The overall employment outlook for physiotherapists is good and should remain stable into the future. As the population ages, physiotherapists will be in demand. Most opportunities will be through health care facilities such as hospitals, community agencies and clinics that are run privately.
Although most workers in this occupation are employees of an organization and work full-time, a significant number of Physiotherapists work part time and many are self-employed.
For more information on labour market conditions for physiotherapists see Ontario Job Futures on the Working in Canada tool. In Ontario, this information is available at public libraries or HRDC Employment Resource Centres in your community.
Fees(in Canadian dollars)
Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators
|Fee for Credential Review||$725|
|Fee for Physiotherapy Competency Exam||$1,775|
College of Physiotherapists of Ontario
|Fee for Provisional Practice Certificate||$70|
|Fee for Independent Practice Certificate||$600|
|CanTEST||$195 - $230|
|IELTS||$245 - $275|
|TOEFL||US$140 - US$160|
For more information on review of your credentials and the Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE), please contact:
For more information on how to register as a physiotherapist in Ontario, please contact:
College of Physiotherapists of Ontario
375 University Avenue, Suite 901
Telephone: (416) 591-3828
Toll Free: 1 (800) 583-5885
Fax: (416) 591-3834
The professional association for physiotherapists in Ontario is:
The professional association for Physiotherapists in Canada is:
Canadian Physiotherapy Association
2345 Yonge Street, Suite 410
Telephone: (416) 932-1888
Toll Free: 1-800-387-8679
Fax: (416) 932-9708
For information on where and how to get help with settlement in Ontario contact:
For more information on where and how to get help with settlement in Ontario contact: www.settlement.org
For information about accessing health related professions in Ontario contact:
Access Centre for Internationally
163 Queen Street East, 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M5A 1S1
Tel. 416-862-2200 or 1-800-596-4046
For more information on English language proficiency tests, contact:
P.O. Box 6151
Princeton, New Jersey
Telephone: (609) 771-7100
Toll Free: 1 (877) 863-3546
Fax: (609) 771-7500
TTY: (609) 734-9362
CanTEST (French and English)
IELTS International address:
Copyright in this career map is held by the Ontario College of Physiotherapists, © 2008.
Click here to view the certification process