A physical therapy assistant – sometimes referred to as a “PTA” – are highly skilled healthcare workers that are responsible for carrying out treatment programs for their patients directly under the direction of a licensed physical therapist.

These professionals work with patients that are of various ages who have health conditions and/or injuries that impact their ability to move appropriately and perform day-to-day activities. If this sounds interesting to you and you are passionate about the well-being of others, continue reading to learn how to become a physical therapist.

Physical Therapist Assistant

How Long Does It Take to Become a Physical Therapy Assistant?

In most instances, it takes two years to become a physical therapist assistant. This includes a total of five semesters. The studies may include – but are not limited to – the following:

  • Anatomy
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Biomechanics
  • Clinical Pathology
  • Communication
  • Ethics
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Physiology

Is There Any Special Educational Requirements to Become a Physical Therapy Assistant?

Yes, individuals that elect to become a physical therapy assistant typically need an Associate’s Degree that comes from the completion of an accredited program. They also need certification and/or a license. A High School diploma is required and on-the-job training may be required.

What is the Median Pay for Physical Therapy Assistants?

In May of 2020, the median pay was outlined as $59,770. It should be noted that the employment growth is expected to average at 32% from 2021 to 2030. This is faster than the general average for most occupations. There are currently expected to be at least 23,000 physical therapy assistant openings each year for the next ten years.

What is the Role of a Physical Therapy Assistant?

While working under the direct supervision of a physical therapist, an assistant in the field aids in the treatment of patients by performing exercise, massage therapy, gait training, balance training, and a whole other array of therapeutic-based interventions. In addition, the progress of the patients is recorded by PTAs and those results are then conveyed to the supervising physical therapist.

Is the Physical Therapy Assistant Job Considered to be Stressful?

It is true that being an assistant to a physical therapist has the potential to be emotionally demanding. The patients that you will work with on a day-to-day basis are in pain and experience varying degrees of discomfort. Additionally, many are facing a certain degree of uncertainty about their health and their future.

You may find that it comes with varying degrees of physical-based demands. You must have a high level of comfort in working closely with others and keeping detailed records on progress.

If you have a passion for helping others, you will find that any stress involved is minimal compared to the reward of seeing progress in your patients.

Is Becoming a Physical Therapy Assistant Worth it?

If you have a passion for helping others and want to break into the medical field, becoming a physical therapy assistant is well worth it. It is a quick and inexpensive way of entering into the field, compared to other medical careers.

Now – more than ever before – there are PTA programs being offered at community colleges, healthcare facilities, and technical schools. This means it is very easy to get the education you require to perform the tasks that you will need to perform.

Can You Make a Good Living as a PTA?

Yes, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average salary of a PTA is over $59,000 a year. That translates to being able to make a living as PTA. Keep in mind that the salary that you receive from working as PTA will be based on your location.

How Do I Become a PTA in the State of Colorado?

If you want to become a physical therapy assistant in the State of Colorado, you will need to attend and graduate from a PT or a PTA program. Once you complete the coursework, you may then apply for a license. Prior to licensure, you will need to pass a test called the National Physical Therapy Exam – which is also referred to as the “NPTE”.

What is the National Physical Therapy Exam?

The NPTE is a special type of test that is offered from the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy – also referred to as the “FSBPT”. It is the test for both physical therapists and physical therapy assistants.

The first section has 250 questions. The second section has 200 questions. The following outlines the various types of content within the exam:

  1. The roles and responsibilities of the position
  2. Professional conduct questions
  3. Questions regarding evaluations, how to make diagnoses, and also prognoses
  4. Therapeutic options
  5. Therapeutic interventions
  6. An overview of body systems

Are Physical Therapy Assistants Licensed in the State of Colorado?

If you want to be a physical therapy assistant in the State of Colorado, you are not required to obtain a PTA license; however, a license is available. It is advised that you obtain this licensure as many patients prefer to only receive assistance from medical professionals that hold a license. If you do elect to get a license, it is regulated by the Colorado State Board of Physical Therapy.

If I Want to Become a Licensed PTA in Colorado, what is Required?

To become a licensed PTA in Colorado, you will need to complete the following:

  • Successful completion of an accredited PTA program
  • Send transcript to the State PT Board
  • Complete the application for the PTA license
  • Pay an application fee of $57, which is non-refundable
  • Pass the National Physical Therapy Assistant Exam (NPTAE), which currently costs $370

Is the School for Physical Therapy Assistants Hard?

As with any coursework in the medical field, PTA programs are intense and require a significant amount of studying. While one may find it easy, another may find it difficult. It all depends on your individual skills and how well you perform when faced with pressure.

How Competitive is PTA School?

Physical therapy assistant school is very competitive, in terms of admissions. All prerequisite courses must have been completed with a “C” or better. In most instances, those that apply for the PTA school have high grades and meet all qualifications for admission.

Is it Hard to Find a PTA Job?

No, it is actually quite easy finding a physical therapy assistant job – especially if you want to work in the State of Colorado. This job has a high growth rate. As long as you meet all of the requirements, you will find it easy to locate work. If you have obtained your license, you will have an even better chance of finding a professional position.

Physical Therapist with Patient

What is the Work Schedule Like for Physical Therapy Assistants?

Most physical therapy assistants will work 5 days each week, during normal business hours.

There are those that may work fewer days a week. Many may work nights and weekends – especially if employed at private clinics and facilities that specialize in outpatient care.

It all depends on where you work, what type of environment you choose to work in, and the demand for physical therapy in those areas. Naturally, certain facilities – such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers – and larger cities are likely to offer the most hours.

What Age Do Physical Therapy Assistants Retire?

Most people start their physical therapy assistant career around the age of 25. In most cases, individuals will elect to retire around the age of 60-65. It all depends on their health, they physical capabilities, and their financial situation. Most that work in the physical therapy field are in good shape, which allows them to work for longer amounts of time.

Additionally, most that choose this field are passionate about it. Due to having a high level of satisfaction, most do not leave the job earlier than those that work in other career fields.

How Many Patients Will a PTA See a Day?

In an 8-hour shift, most physical therapy assistants will see anywhere from 8 to 16 patients.

It depends on the needs of each patient; however, as a general rule of thumb, most patients are provided with appointments that last anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes.

Patients who have more severe conditions and/or are older may be provided with additional time as to enhance their overall treatment effectiveness.

Looking to Network?

If you are interested in becoming a physical therapy assistant or wish to connect to others in the field – especially in the State of Colorado – we encourage you to join the Colorado Physical Therapy Network. You will learn of educational opportunities, job opportunities, and other resources that will help you advance in your learning and your position. Our network is the absolute best and the most comprehensive in the entire State of Colorado. If you would like to learn more or have an interest in joining, you may contact us today by calling the following number: 303-757-7004

To learn more about us, visit the following link to complete a form for more information: https://coloradophysicaltherapynetwork.com/contact/