Physical Therapy Assistant FAQ

What it takes to become a physical therapy assistant.

Pre-health professions

What does a Physical Therapy Assistant do?

The PTA works under the supervision of a licensed Physical Therapist, helping implement treatment plans, conducting patient intake evaluations and helping ensure the accurate performance of exercises and the safety of a patient.

What is the difference between a PT Assistant and a PT aide?

PT Assistants must have an associate’s degree from an accredited program. All states require PTAs to be licensed or certified.

Physical therapist aides need at least a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training. Their work typically includes preparation and cleaning of therapy areas, clerical functions such as filing, scheduling appointments and answering phones, and bringing patients into the treatment room.

How do you become a PT Assistant?

A two-year Associate’s Degree through an CAPTE-accredited program is required. These can be found at some community colleges and a few universities. In Oregon, there are only two programs: Lane Community College and Mt. Hood Community College. After completion, candidates take a national licensure examination.

What are the pre-requisite courses for entering a PTA program?

Requirements will vary slightly between programs, but if you have a Bachelor’s degree, you should have met most pre-reqs. WR 121 (or higher), Human Anatomy & Physiology (2 terms min.), General Psychology and Medical Terminology are expected. These courses must be completed at time of application, along with a minimum of 20 - 25 hours of work or observation experience.

How long is the program?

Typically, two years, full time, with a summer term often included.

How competitive are PTA programs?

Using Lane and Mt. Hood as examples, MHCC accepts 27 students into the program, which starts each fall. Licensure rates of graduates are 85-100% pass on their first attempt. LCC accepts 24 students, and also collaborates with Rogue CC to offer classes online, with labs taken at Table Rock campus in White City. You must be a resident of Josephine or Jackson counties. LCC does not publish their pass rates.

Where do PTAs find jobs?

Any setting a PT works – including outpatient clinics, acute and long-term care hospitals and rehabilitative
facilities and through home health agencies.

What is the average salary of a PTA?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for physical therapist assistants was $58,790 in May 2019. PTAs in skilled nursing facilities drew the highest income.

What is the projected job outlook for a PTA?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment of physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 27 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations., much faster than the average for all occupations. Driving this growth is the increasing population of aging adults.

Where can you get more information?