Bls.gov shows a 30% for physical therapy assistants (PTA). This is a great growth percentage!! We will cover salary details and job information later in the article.
Lets get started on describing the growing healthcare field as a whole and showing you the steps and details for becoming a PTA!
What is the process to become a Physical Therapist Assistant?
Find Physical Therapy Assisting Programs Near You
STEP 1 – Have Your High School Diploma
The first step to being eligible to become a physical therapy assistant you need to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent.
STEP 2 – Enroll in to a Physical Therapy Assisting Program
All PTAs need to have an associates degree from an accredited program. Below is a list of all the accredited PTA programs. PTA Programs are usually about 2 years in length. Your coursework will include English, anatomy, physiology, algebra and even psychology. Assistants will in most cases also get hands-on training with supervised clinical work. (CPR), basic life support (BLS), and other first-aid skills are also taught with certifications being available for each.
The two accrediting bodies in the physical therapy field are (CAPTE) the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education and (APTA) American Physical Therapy Association.
Accredited Physical Therapy Assistant Schools
The link below is to the database of accredited PTA schools from the Commission on Accreditation on Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
Step 3 – Pass the National Physical Therapy Assistant Exam
All states require certification for their physical therapy assistants. The exam is called the NPTE given at a national level by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. To be successful for the NPTE exam it is recommended you follow a few guidelines. We detail them below for you.
1 – Preparation for the Exam – (see here for tips).
2 – Take Care of all Your Pre-examination Requirements – Arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time and have two forms of acceptable identification with you. These forms of ID are a currently valid, government-issued photo ID and another piece of identification which is pre-printed with your name and containing your signature on it.This can be a credit card for example.
3 – Tips for the Day of the Exam – Candidates are allowed 5 hours for the PT examination and 4 hours for the PTA examination. The exams has have 250 questions for PTs and 200 questions for PTAs. The time limit is for test taking time and you are allowed two 15 minute breaks during your test that will not take away from your overall time limit. Candidates are not permitted to bring anything into the testing room other than their identification and locker key. Food/beverages are not permitted in the testing room and lockers are provided to candidates to store their personal items while they are testing. Wear comfortable clothes (Use layers in case of temp changes) and be ready mentally for a grueling long examination of your education.
The Physical Therapy Licensure Compact
The FSBPT has a licensure compact between states that allows those who are certified in the states in the compact to work across state lines without having to re-certify in those states. For more details about the compact see this informative breakdown from the FSBPT here. The states currently in the compact enacting full licensure are Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Utah and legislation has been introduced in Pennsylvania. Many other states are in the process of and have legislation for the compact to be made law in their states.
Step 4 – Get your Physical Therapy Certification for your State
After successfully passing the certification exam you may have to pass a background check in most states. Once you have done that you will have all you need for PTA certification!
What does a Physical Therapist Assistant do?
PTs or Physical Therapists assist the sick and injured to improve movements and manage overall ans specific pain. The are integral to treatment, rehabilitation and prevention of injuries and chronic conditions.
(PTAs) Physical therapist assistants work directly for and under the supervision of physical therapists. They do a vast array of duties. Be it assisting the patient in an exercise or movement, setting up an area or facility or clerical work they are the “Jack of all Trades” in the physical therapy environment. This is key to growing from a PTA to possibly becoming a PT.
Below we get in to much more detail about the specific duties of the jobs.
Core Duties of a Physical Therapy Assistant
Below are the most common tasks for physical therapy assistants.
Observe patients before, during, and after therapy, noting status to PT.
Help patients with exercises
Treat patients (massage, stretches)
Use equipment to help patients
Educate patients and their families about what to do after patient treatment
Clean treatment areas/set up any necessary therapy equipment
Assists patients moving to or from therapy area if it is needed
Wash all linens
About Physical Therapist Assistant Salary
Physical therapy assisting is growing at a wonderful rate of 30%! This is a great rate of growth for the field as a whole. Bls.gov has many statistics that back this up below.
What is the average salary for a Physical Therapist Assistant?
According to bls.gov the average salary is $46,920 per year and hourly pay is $22.56 per hour.
PTA salary by state
|Hourly mean wage
|Annual mean wage