What is a PTA?

What is a physical therapist assistant?

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs help people of all ages who have medical problems, or other health-related conditions that limit their ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. Care provided by a PTA may include teaching patients/clients exercise for mobility, strength and coordination, training for activities such as walking with crutches, canes, or walkers, massage, and the use of physical agents and electrotherapy such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation.

What do physical therapist assistants earn?

The national median income for a physical therapist assistant is $37,000 depending on position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic location, and practice setting. In Fairfield county, PTAs earn from $45,000 to $52,000 according to salary.com.

Where do physical therapist assistants work?

Today, PTAs provide health care services to patients of all ages and health conditions in a variety of settings, including: outpatient clinics or offices; hospitals; inpatient rehabilitation facilities; skilled nursing, extended care or subacute facilities; patient’s homes; education or research centers; schools; hospices; industrial, workplace or other occupational environments; and, fitness centers and sports training facilities.

What are the educational requirements for becoming a PTA?

Physical therapist assistants must complete a two-year education program, typically offered through a community or junior college. Candidates receive an associate’s degree upon graduation. The course of study usually includes one year of general education and one year of technical courses on physical therapy procedures and clinical experience.

What are the licensure requirements for becoming a PTA?

All 50 states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed, registered, or certified. The state of Connecticut requires PTAs to be licensed after passing a national exam. Check with the state you plan to work in to find out specific requirements.

What is the employment outlook for physical therapy?

According to the bureau of labor and statistics, PTAs are one of the top ten fastest growing occupations. Employment of physical therapist assistants is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2014.

What kind of classes will I take?

The PTA degree program at Norwalk Community College consists of general and technical education requirements. General education requirements include, but are not limited to, courses in anatomy and physiology, public speaking and english. In technical education courses you will learn about kinesiology, pathophysiology and therapeutic exercise for rehabilitation.

What are the academic requirements for admission to the program?

High school diploma, GED or equivalent, successful completion of math and english placement exams (and/or prerequisites identified by the placement exams), college level anatomy and physiology I with a grade of c+ or better (a grade of c will be accepted if the course was taken prior to the fall 2013 semester, when this rule changed.) Please speak with the PTA program faculty or look at our requirements for admission for more detail.

What type of degree will I receive?

Upon completion of the program, graduates receive an associate of science. With your degree, you are eligible to sit for the national licensure exam. More than 40 states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed, registered, or certified. The state of Connecticut requires PTAs to be licensed after passing the national exam. Check with the state you plan to work in to find out specific requirements.

Is this a part time or full time program?

Both. Although it is preferable to complete the program in a two-year span, it is sometimes difficult to fit a full time class schedule into an already busy life. You may choose to complete all general education requirements on a part-time basis in the first two years and then progress part-time through the technical education (PTA) classes the next two years.

What is the difference between a PTA and a physical therapist (PT)?

To become a PT, you must earn a bachelors degree in a health science field, then a doctorate in physical therapy from an accredited institution, which typically takes 7 to 8 years.  PTs perform patient/client examinations and evaluations, which leads to a diagnosis, prognosis and plan of care.  The PTA follows the plan of care working under the direction and supervision of a PT.  Certain clinical skills are considered “PT only.” Courses from an associate level PTA degree do not typically transfer to a graduate level PT program, however, general education courses, such as math and english, will count toward the bachelor’s degree required for admission to a PT program.

Where can I find more information?

Download the admissions requirements.