Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) are often the unsung heroes of physical therapy teams, providing patients with high-quality care through in-depth treatment plans. As assistants, PTAs work under the direction of licensed physical therapists and can be an ideal career choice for those looking to join a rewarding and rapidly-growing healthcare profession. Nationwide, there is an increasing demand for PTAs and the profession was rated the ninth-best healthcare support job of 2022! Not only is it an in-demand and well-paying position, but it also creates ample opportunity for career growth and advancement. The pathway to becoming a PTA is also shorter and more direct than other healthcare professions, creating an expedited path to get you into the field and experience real-world situations.
You can prepare for a successful educational experience in this career by knowing what to expect. If you’re ready to make a difference at the forefront of patient-facing care, it’s time to put a productive plan in motion.
Pinpoint Your Program
Now that you’re pumped to pursue a career as a PTA, the first step is to identify the right program, which can usually take between 13 and 20 months. These courses are intended to give you the fundamental knowledge you'll need to pursue entry-level positions in the industry. You'll take classes focusing on kinesiology, patient care, orthopedics, anatomy, and other topics as part of your education.
Know Your Requirements
Due to the large patient-facing component of a PTA’s responsibilities, the educational requirements are made up of a combination of hands-on experience and in-class assignments. This may seem challenging but will ultimately strengthen your multi-tasking and collaboration skills, traits of successful PTAs. Having in-person experience will only enhance the quality of care you provide future patients and is a necessary aspect of the program. Once you’ve graduated from your Associate program, it’s time to focus on passing the National Licensing Examination for Physical Therapist Assistants, administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).
Acquire Your License
Passing the National Licensing Examination is a requirement for physical therapist assistants to earn their license. All states except Colorado and Hawaii require PTAs to be licensed in addition to holding an associate degree.
Navigating these experiences will not only provide you with the accreditations and requirements you need to succeed, but they also give you the valuable experience and confidence that the most successful PTAs possess. Once you’ve earned the necessary tools and skills, it’s time to explore the plethora of rewarding pathways available to an ambitious PTA like yourself.
Find Your Specialty
Another attractive benefit of earning your PTA degree is the number of career doors it can open for you. You could work in different environments fulfilling a variety of roles and defining a specialty can maximize the quality of care you’ll provide while increasing your overall job satisfaction. There are multiple specialties for PTAs, including:
Physical therapist assistants also work in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, clinics, private practices, home health agencies, and nursing homes. Approximately 72% of PTAs work in hospitals or privately-owned physical therapy practices. Others work in home health care, schools, and rehabilitation facilities, while 28% of PTAs work part-time, making it a flexible option for different lifestyles and work schedules.
No matter the environment you work in, you can be confident that your role as a PTA is making a significant difference in the lives of others.
Herzing University offers convenient and comprehensive PTA programs in Florida and Wisconsin to get you one step closer to the job of your dreams. This 20-month program involves a valuable combination of lab experience and in-class education for students who are ready to step up and make an impact. If you’re inspired to make a positive impact in your patients’ lives as a healthcare hero, now is the perfect time to create a strategy for enrolling in a program that not only aligns with your goals but also provides you with the tools you need to succeed.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.