Frequently Asked Questions on the Continuing Competency Requirements for Licensure in California

To review the full text of the continuing competency regulations, click here.

Unless otherwise stated, all references are to section of part 13.2 of Title 16 of the California Regulations.

1. Am I required to have continuing competency to renew my license?

2. When can I begin satisfying the continuing competency requirements?

3. How many continuing competency hours are required?

4. If I take more than 30 hours of Continuing Competency this year, can I "roll over" the hours for my next renewal requirement?

5. What does Life Support for a Health Care Professionals mean?

6. Does the Basic Life Support for Health Care Professionals course need to be approved by a Recognized Approval Agency?

7. Can I take the Life Support for Health Care Professionals course online?

8. Does the life support for health care professionals training need to be four (4) hours?

9. What are the authorized pathways to obtain continuing competency hours?

10. How do I notify the PTBC that I have met the continuing competency requirements?

11. How long do I retain my continuing competency documents?

12. What are the criteria to become a Recognized Continuing Competency Approving Agency?

13. How do I become an Approved Provider to offer continuing competency courses?

14. How do I find out if the course I am taking is approved?

15. Can I contact the Board to verify whether the course I am interested in taking is an approved continuing competency course for license renewal?

16. If I take a college course from an accredited institution, for a quarter or a semester, will I get one (1) hour per class unit or one (1) hour per 50 minutes of class instruction or lab time?

17. Are the required two (2) hours in ethics, laws and regulations and the four (4) hours in life support for health care professionals in addition to the required 30 hours of continuing competency?

18. Can a Medicare or Coding course be considered for the required two (2) hours of ethics, laws and regulations?

19. May a college course be counted as a traditional pathway course, e.g. Medical Spanish?

20. Will attending a Board meeting or serving on a Board task force count towards the 2 hour ethics, laws and regulations competency hours as required in section 1399.93(a) CCR?

21. If I take ethics, laws and regulations courses in excess of the two (2) hours required in section 1399.93(a) CCR, may the excess hours be applied toward completing hours via the traditional pathway in section 1399.94(a) CCR?

22. How will I know if the course I take will be accepted by the PTBC?

23. Will the continuing competency courses that are not approved by an approval agency recognized by the Board but approved by another licensing Board or professional association satisfy my continuing competency requirement?

24. Will only specialty certification issued by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties' (ABPTS) satisfy section J of the alternate pathway table in section 1399.94(b) CCR, alternate pathway (J)?

25. If I attend a conference where an approved provider is also offering continuing competency courses, do I receive credit for attending the conference AND for the course taken at the conference?

26. Can I request to be placed on inactive status?

27. How can I restore an inactive license to active status?

28. Can I request an exemption from the continuing competency requirement for my current renewal period?


1. Am I required to have continuing competency to renew my license?

YES. As of November 6, 2009, all licensees must accumulate the required number of hours of continuing competency in each license renewal cycle pursuant to section 1399.91 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR).

2. When can I begin satisfying the continuing competency requirements?

NOW. Continuing competency hours must be earned during your renewal period. Your renewal period begins the day after your license expires and ends on your expiration date.

3. How many continuing competency hours are required?

30 Contact hours, except as defined in the chart below:

Renewal Status Renewal Payment Submitted Hours Required
First Time License Renewals Prior to Expiration Date 15 Hours*
First Time License Renewals After Expiration Date 30 Hours*
Valid/Delinquent/Inactive License Renewals 30 Hours*
CANCELED YOU WILL HAVE TO REAPPLY

*For each renewal cycle a licensees continuing competency hours must include: two (2) hours in ethics, laws, and regulations and four (4) hours in life support for health care professionals pursuant to CCR 1399.93.

Pursuant to CCR 1399.90, "Hour" is the unit of measurement for continuing competency and, for courses, means at least 50 minutes of instruction. Pursuant to CCR 1399.91 One "CEU" equals 10 hours of continuing competency for the PTBC's purposes.

4. If I take more than 30 hours of Continuing Competency this year, can I "roll over" the hours for my next renewal requirement?

NO. Continuing Competency hours must be completed within the renewal period they are being applied to pursuant to CCR 1399.91 (a).

5. What does Life Support for a Health Care Professionals mean?

Life support is the level of medical care which is used for patients with life threatening illness or injuries until the patient can be given full medical care. This level is often compared to Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Pursuant to CCR 1399.93(b), such training should be comparable to, or more advanced than, the American Heart Association's Basic Life Support Health Care Provider course.

6. Does the Basic Life Support for Health Care Professionals course need to be approved by a Recognized Approval Agency?

NO. Pursuant to CCR 1399.93 (b), as long as the course is comparable to, or more advanced than, the American Heart Association's Basic Life Support Health Care Provider course.

7. Can I take the Life Support for Health Care Professionals course online?

You may take the academic portion of the course online, as long as the course is comparable to, or more advanced than, the American Heart Association's Basic Life Support Health Care Provider course. To be comparable, you must include a hand on skills demonstration with a certified instructor. This is often referred to as a blended course. Course participants are issued a wallet certification card to be used as proof of completion.

8. Does the life support for health care professionals training need to be four (4) hours?

You must accumulate at least four (4) hours of life support for health care professionals training. You should confirm the number of hours with the provider of the course before you attend. As long as the curriculum of the course you have taken is comparable to or exceeds the standards of the American Heart Association's "Basic Life Support for Health Care Professionals", you will be considered compliant. To be comparable, you must include a hand on skills demonstration with a certified instructor. Course participants are issued a wallet certification card to be used as proof of completion.

9. What are the authorized pathways to obtain continuing competency hours?

Pursuant to CCR 1399.94:

  1. (A)Traditional pathways are those offered by an approved provider. There is no limit to the number of hours which may be accumulated through traditional pathways. The traditional pathways are:
    • continuing education courses, including home and self-study courses, approved through an agency recognized by the board under the provisions of CCR 1399.95; and
    • college coursework from an accredited institution. (Please refer to CCR 1399.92 for content requirements.)
  2. (B) Alternate pathways are those offered by an entity other than an approved provider. Only those alternate pathways described in this section may be used to accumulate continuing competency hours. The number of alternate pathway hours that may be applied for a renewal cycle may not exceed any cap noted below. Hours may be granted only in accordance with the conversion formula for each alternate pathway noted below.

ALTERNATE PATHWAYS

Description Cap Conversion
A) Publishing a peer-reviewed journal article, case study or book chapter. 16 hours 5 hours per article, study or chapter
B) Developing or presenting an approved college or continuing education course for the first time. 16 hours 4 hours for each course
C) Participating as a subject matter expert in the examination process for the Board, FSBPT or ABPTS. 16 hours 6 hours per experience
D) Serving on a Board-appointed task force. 16 hours 6 hours per experience
E) Performing in a role as a clinical instructor where the student's clinical experience is full time and lasts at least 4 weeks. Effective January 1, 2013, the clinical instructor must be credentialed by APTA or hold a substantially similar credential. 12 hours 1 hour per week
F) Attending a conference relating to the practice of physical therapy where proof of attendance is provided by the conference sponsor. 8 hours 2 hours per conference
G) Attending a conference offered by FSBPT, APTA, or a component thereof. 8 hours 4 hours per conference
H) Attending a Board Meeting. 8 hours 2 hours per meeting
I) Completing an FSBPT Practice Review Tool. 6 hours 6 hours per experience
J) Successfully passing one of the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties' certified specialist examinations, including re-certification examinations. 6 hours 6 hours per examination
K) Completing training as an expert consultant for the Board. 6 hours 6 hours per training
L) Successfully passing the Board's California Law Examination. 2 hours 2 hours per training

FSBPT: Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy; ABPTS: American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists

** Starting 01/01/2013 the clinical instructor must be credentialed by the APTA or a similar certifying body

10. How do I notify the PTBC that I have met the continuing competency requirements?

It’s easy; you will check a box on your renewal form and provide your signature indicating you have met the requirements.

11. How long do I retain my continuing competency documents?

The licensee is required to keep records with regard to continuing competency for which credit is claimed for five (5) years after the completion of the course/activity. These records shall reflect the title of the course/activity, the date it was taken or completed and the record of participation. Copies of these records should be forwarded to the Board ONLY upon request. The PTBC will conduct random audits and may request copies of your records as part of that process.

12. What are the criteria to become a Recognized Continuing Competency Approving Agency?

Pursuant to CCR 1399.95, the PTBC will only approve agencies that will approve providers offering continuing competency courses.

The following is the criteria an agency must adhere to in order to qualify as an Approval Agency recognized by the Board to approve providers offering continuing competency courses

  1. An approval agency must have the capacity to evaluate each course offered by a provider in accordance with CCR 1399.96 and shall conduct audits of at least 10% of its approved providers' courses to ensure compliance with this article
  2. An approval agency must have a procedure for periodic review of courses to ensure content quality and currency
  3. An approval agency must have a procedure in place to respond to complaints
  4. Approval agencies shall provide services to all persons or entities without unlawful discrimination
  5. An approval agency that also offers continuing education courses directly to a licensee shall have a means to avoid a conflict of interest between its functions as a provider and its functions as an approval agency
  6. Upon written confirmation from the Board that the approval agency has been recognized, the approval agency may advertise that it has been recognized by the Board

The Board may require the approval agency to submit records for up to seven (7) years demonstrating its compliance with this article

13. How do I become an Approved Provider to offer continuing competency courses?

The standards for qualifying as an approved provider are outlined pursuant to CCR 1399.96.

All providers must be approved by a Board recognized approval agency pursuant to CCR 1399.95. Do not contact the PTBC to apply for approval as a provider. The PTBC will post the approval agencies on the PTBC's web site as agencies are approved. You will need to contact the agencies directly to apply to become an approved provider

14. How do I find out if the course I am taking is approved?

Pursuant to CCR 1399.95 and 1399.96, the course must be offered by a provider that has been approved by a Recognized Continuing Competency Approving Agency. This course would then be appropriate as continuing competency activity. Contact the appropriate Approval Agency to verify approval of the course.

15. Can I contact the Board to verify whether the course I am interested in taking is an approved continuing competency course for license renewal?

NO. The Board cannot verify whether the course meets the content standards set forth in pursuant to CCR 1399.92. Approval agencies recognized by the Board make this determination.

16. If I take a college course from an accredited institution, for a quarter or a semester, will I get one (1) hour per class unit or one (1) hour per 50 minutes of class instruction or lab time?

YES. If the course is related to either the professional practice of physical therapy or patient/client management set forth in pursuant to CCR 1399.9, you will receive one hour of credit for every 50 minutes to 1 hour of instruction or lab time pursuant to CCR 1399.90(g). Example:  A course meets 2 hours a week for 10 weeks = 20 hours of continuing competency.

17. Are the required two (2) hours in ethics, laws and regulations and the four (4) hours in life support for health care professionals in addition to the required 30 hours of continuing competency?

NO. Pursuant to CCR 1399.93 these requirements are part of the total 30 hours.

18. Can a Medicare or Coding course be considered for the required two (2) hours of ethics, laws and regulations?

No. Medicare and coding courses are not considered acceptable courses to be used towards the required two (2) hours of ethics, laws and regulations. However, these courses may be considered a traditional or alternate pathway of obtaining continuing competency hours per CCR 1399.94.

19. May a college course be counted as a traditional pathway course, e.g. Medical Spanish?

YES. However, this depends on whether the course meets the content standards as stated in pursuant to CCR 1399.92. Specific to the example given: Medical Spanish would relate to professional development and therefore would be counted.

20. Will attending a Board meeting or serving on a Board task force count towards the 2 hour ethics, laws and regulations competency hours as required in pursuant to CCR 1399.93(a)?

NO. However credit may be given as an alternate pathway pursuant to CCR 1399.94(b), alternate pathway D or H.

21. If I take ethics, laws and regulations courses in excess of the two (2) hours required in CCR 1399.93(a), may the excess hours be applied toward completing hours via the traditional pathway in CCR 1399.94(a)?

YES.

22. How will I know if the course I take will be accepted by the PTBC?

It is the responsibility of the licensee to confirm with the provider of the course that it has been accredited by a PTBC Recognized Approval Agency for Physical Therapy Continuing Competency credit in California.

Click here for a list of Recognized Continuing Competency Approving Agencies.

23. Will the continuing competency courses that are not approved by an approval agency recognized by the Board but approved by another licensing Board or professional association satisfy my continuing competency requirement?

NO. All courses must be taken through an approved provider who meets the standards set forth pursuant to CCR 1399.96 and has been approved by a Board recognized approval agency pursuant to

CCR 1399.95.

24. Will only specialty certification issued by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties' (ABPTS) satisfy section J of the alternate pathway table CCR 1399.94(b), alternate pathway (J)?

YES. Currently the regulation only authorizes credit for specialty certifications issued from ABPTS.

25. If I attend a conference where an approved provider is also offering continuing competency courses, do I receive credit for attending the conference AND for the course taken at the conference?

Yes, you would receive credit for pathway F or G of the alternate pathway table pursuant to

CCR 1399.94(b) and hours through the traditional pathway.

26. Can I request to be placed on inactive status?

Yes, pursuant to CCR 1399.98, a licensee may be granted inactive status if, at the time of request for inactive status, the license is current and not suspended, revoked, or otherwise punitively restricted by the board. Such request can be made on your renewal form at the time of applying for the renewal of your license.

Please note, Inactive Status only exempts the licensee from the continuing competency requirement. All other conditions of renewal still apply. i.e.; renewal form, criminal conviction disclosure and renewal fee. The inactive status of any licensee does not deprive the board of its authority to institute or continue any disciplinary or enforcement actions against a licensee. The licensee shall not engage in any activity for which a license is required.

27. How can I restore an inactive license to active status?

Pursuant to CCR 1399.98, you shall:

  1. Complete the required number of continuing competency hours to that required for a single renewal period of an active license within the last two years prior to applying to restore the license to active status
  2. Complete the Inactive to Active License Application
  3. Pay any applicable renewal fees

28. Can I request an exemption from the continuing competency requirement for my current renewal period?

Yes, pursuant to CCR 1399.99, you may request an exemption from the continuing competency requirement at the time of applying for the renewal of your license. The request for exemption must be requested in writing by completing the Continuing Competency Exemption Application and provide the following information:

  1. Evidence that during the renewal period prior to the expiration of the license, the licensee was residing in another country for one (1) year or longer, reasonably preventing completion of the continuing competency requirements; or
  2. Evidence that the licensee was absent from California because of military service for a period of one (1) year or longer during the renewal period, preventing completion of the continuing competency requirements; or
  3. Evidence that the licensee should be exempt from the continuing competency requirements for reasons of health or other good cause which include:
    • Total physical and/or mental disability for one (1) year or more during the renewal period and the inability to work during this period has been verified by a licensed physician or surgeon or licensed clinical psychologist; or
    • Total physical and/or mental disability for one (1) year or longer of an immediate family member for whom the licensee had total responsibility, as verified by a licensed physician or surgeon or licensed clinical psychologist.
    An exemption under this section shall not be granted for two consecutive renewal periods. In the event a licensee cannot complete continuing competency requirements following an exemption, the licensee may only renew the license in an inactive status.