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Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) can seek a rewarding career by helping others to recuperate from their injuries or to learn to better manage their ongoing pain. They work under the direction of a physical therapist (PT) who typically has doctorate-level education. They may be able to specialize in specific fields that range from aquatic therapy to sports medicine.

Physical Therapist Assistants picture    Physical Therapist Assistants image

Physical Therapist Assistant Schools

Becoming a PTA typically takes an investment of two years of associate degree education and passing an exam to become certified or licensed in a state. The following five schools offer associate degrees in physical therapy assistance, and are accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association.

  • Amarillo College: This college in Texas trains students in the key skills necessary to enter the field of physical therapy assistance.
  • Broward College: This college in Florida provides the framework for students to learn how to work with patients who have lost function due to illness, surgery, or other conditions.
  • Clark State Community College: This community college located in Springfield, Ohio combines didactic and clinical learning experiences for future physical therapy assistants.
  • Mercyhurst University: Located in North East, Pennsylvania, this university's physical therapy assistant training program prepares students to become important members of a health care team.
  • San Diego Mesa College: This college offers an associate degree which trains physical therapy assistants to work safely and ethically with a wide variety of patients.

Physical Therapist Assistant Education Requirements

An associate degree is usually needed to become a physical therapist assistant. Students enrolled in a degree program gain hands-on clinical skills and may learn about:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Communication
  • Human Physiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Sports injuries

Associate degree programs in physical therapy assisting typically last about two years, and they must be accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association's Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

Physical Therapist Assistant Certification and Licensing

In addition to completing classroom education, it is necessary for physical therapy assistants to get clinical training and experience. The American Physical Therapy Association reports that physical therapy assistant students spend an average of sixteen weeks in full-time clinical education, which is typically a total of about 25 percent of a physical therapy assistant program.

Certification may be needed in some states where licensing is not required. In fact, all states, except for Hawaii require either certification or licensing, according to the BLS. Passing a national exam is a requirement and graduation from an accredited program is imperative. There also are advanced credentials that PTAs may wish to pursue after certification or licensing, such as the PTA Recognition of Advanced Proficiency offered by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

In many states, licensing may be the more common terminology than certification. To become licensed, students need to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination, which is offered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). The FSBPT offers a list of licensing agencies for each state and also provides details about state-specific requirements, such as whether a criminal background check or fingerprinting is required.

Physical Therapist Assistant Resources

Sources:

  1. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapist-assistants-and-aides.htm
  2. Amarillo College, https://www.actx.edu/phys_therapist/
  3. Broward College, http://www.broward.edu/academics/programs/pta/Pages/default.aspx
  4. Clark State Community College, https://www.clarkstate.edu/academics/majors-programs/physical-therapist-assistant
  5. Mercyhurst University, http://northeast.mercyhurst.edu/academics/physical-therapist-assistant
  6. San Diego Mesa College, http://www.sdmesa.edu/academics/schools-departments/physical-therapist-assistant/

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Physical Therapist Assistants

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Physical Therapist Assistants jobs , as of 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 420 $48,640
Birmingham 420 $48,640
Mobile 260 $51,890
Gadsden 140 $57,200
Montgomery 110 $53,920
Dothan 110 $54,990
Huntsville 110 $56,070
Florence 80 $59,280
Muscle Shoals 80 $59,280
Foley 70 $54,760
Daphne 70 $54,760
Fairhope 70 $54,760
Tuscaloosa 60 $46,730
Decatur 60 $51,710
Jacksonville 50 $48,200
Anniston 50 $48,200
Oxford 50 $48,200
Opelika 30 $49,700
Auburn 30 $49,700
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 50 $73,280
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mesa 1090 $40,120
Scottsdale 1090 $40,120
Phoenix 1090 $40,120
Tucson 170 $48,450
Flagstaff 30 $30,340
Lake Havasu City 30 $46,780
Kingman 30 $46,780
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 300 $55,960
North Little Rock 300 $55,960
Little Rock 300 $55,960
Jonesboro 140 $44,150
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 1940 $66,530
Long Beach 1940 $66,530
Los Angeles 1940 $66,530
San Diego 610 $65,940
Carlsbad 610 $65,940
San Francisco 480 $69,650
Hayward 480 $69,650
Oakland 480 $69,650
Ontario 420 $63,750
San Bernardino 420 $63,750
Riverside 420 $63,750
Arden 260 $67,960
Sacramento 260 $67,960
Arcade 260 $67,960
Roseville 260 $67,960
San Jose 180 $70,290
Sunnyvale 180 $70,290
Santa Clara 180 $70,290
Ventura 130 $67,380
Oxnard 130 $67,380
Thousand Oaks 130 $67,380
Stockton 70 $50,830
Lodi 70 $50,830
Santa Barbara 60 $62,900
Santa Maria 60 $62,900
Salinas 60 $65,430
Fresno 50 $68,580
Santa Rosa 40 $55,280
Santa Cruz 40 $62,260
Watsonville 40 $62,260
Modesto 40 $69,560
Bakersfield 30 $63,450
Merced 30 $68,610
Arroyo Grande N/A $28,780
Paso Robles N/A $28,780
San Luis Obispo N/A $28,780
Porterville N/A $72,400
Visalia N/A $72,400
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 490 $54,040
Denver 490 $54,040
Aurora 490 $54,040
Pueblo 160 $44,430
Colorado Springs 130 $49,100
Boulder 50 $45,340
Fort Collins 30 $47,470
Greeley 30 $54,740
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
East Hartford 250 $54,660
West Hartford 250 $54,660
Hartford 250 $54,660
New Haven 90 $59,120
Norwalk 60 $60,530
Stamford 60 $60,530
Bridgeport 60 $60,530
Danbury 30 $51,080
     
Metro Area (Delaware) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dover N/A $56,740
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Miami 1100 $61,520
West Palm Beach 1100 $61,520
Fort Lauderdale 1100 $61,520
Kissimmee 610 $58,030
Sanford 610 $58,030
Orlando 610 $58,030
Clearwater 430 $57,910
Tampa 430 $57,910
St. Petersburg 430 $57,910
Jacksonville 370 $62,390
Bradenton 170 $59,710
Sarasota 170 $59,710
North Port 170 $59,710
Titusville 170 $65,010
Melbourne 170 $65,010
Palm Bay 170 $65,010
Cape Coral 170 $67,570
Fort Myers 170 $67,570
Port St. Lucie 160 $65,090
Deltona 120 $61,520
Ormond Beach 120 $61,520
Daytona Beach 120 $61,520
Homosassa Springs 120 $64,970
Tallahassee 120 $65,040
Brent 90 $58,890
Ferry Pass 90 $58,890
Pensacola 90 $58,890
Gainesville 80 $53,630
Destin 80 $61,390
Crestview 80 $61,390
Fort Walton Beach 80 $61,390
Ocala 80 $64,840
Panama City 70 $52,370
Winter Haven 70 $58,190
Lakeland 70 $58,190
Vero Beach 60 $60,330
Sebastian 60 $60,330
Naples 40 $52,520
Immokalee 40 $52,520
Marco Island 40 $52,520
Punta Gorda 40 $65,200
The Villages 30 $67,640
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 750 $53,000
Atlanta 750 $53,000
Sandy Springs 750 $53,000
Savannah 70 $55,670
Athens 50 $58,240
Clarke County 50 $58,240
Macon 50 $61,040
Gainesville 40 $54,610
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 290 $37,450
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 70 $38,660
Idaho Falls 50 $47,760
Pocatello 40 $58,320
Coeur d'Alene N/A $64,430
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Peoria 210 $52,340
Rockford 60 $47,720
Bloomington 60 $49,360
Kankakee 40 $52,430
Urbana 40 $57,250
Champaign 40 $57,250
Carbondale 30 $44,970
Marion 30 $44,970
Springfield 30 $53,300
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Carmel 720 $58,260
Anderson 720 $58,260
Indianapolis 720 $58,260
Fort Wayne 200 $48,150
Kokomo 60 $59,130
Elkhart 40 $53,920
Goshen 40 $53,920
Terre Haute 40 $57,890
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Des Moines 160 $48,150
West Des Moines 160 $48,150
Cedar Rapids 100 $42,170
Waterloo 60 $48,340
Cedar Falls 60 $48,340
Dubuque 30 $42,970
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Topeka 220 $57,540
Wichita 90 $55,910
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lexington 240 $53,400
Fayette 240 $53,400
Owensboro 80 $48,750
Bowling Green 60 $58,970
Fort Knox 50 $55,550
Elizabethtown 50 $55,550
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 250 $47,550
New Orleans 250 $47,550
Baton Rouge 200 $56,220
Lafayette 140 $33,060
Bossier City 120 $41,780
Shreveport 120 $41,780
Lake Charles 100 $31,520
Alexandria 50 $44,570
Monroe 30 $37,640
Hammond 30 $44,750
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland 80 $52,120
Portland 80 $52,120
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 770 $58,350
Columbia 770 $58,350
Baltimore 770 $58,350
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Barnstable Town 130 $62,430
New Bedford 90 $60,230
Leominster 60 $56,730
Gardner 60 $56,730
Pittsfield N/A $59,290
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dearborn 1740 $45,510
Detroit 1740 $45,510
Warren 1740 $45,510
Wyoming 710 $45,240
Grand Rapids 710 $45,240
Flint 160 $47,770
Saginaw 140 $45,040
Ann Arbor 140 $48,110
Bay City 80 $43,800
Lansing 80 $49,260
East Lansing 80 $49,260
Kalamazoo 80 $51,170
Portage 80 $51,170
Muskegon 70 $39,240
Battle Creek 60 $47,300
Benton Harbor 30 $47,590
Niles 30 $47,590
Jackson N/A $55,630
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
St. Cloud 70 $44,250
Rochester 30 $54,940
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 250 $39,740
Gulfport 160 $45,120
Pascagoula 160 $45,120
Biloxi 160 $45,120
Hattiesburg 50 $45,020
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 220 $50,780
Joplin N/A $48,660
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Great Falls 30 $45,100
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 90 $49,110
Grand Island 60 $50,240
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 370 $59,720
Henderson 370 $59,720
Las Vegas 370 $59,720
Reno N/A $36,370
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 100 $58,140
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 50 $58,510
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 100 $55,130
Farmington 40 $48,050
Las Cruces N/A $56,390
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cheektowaga 300 $45,370
Buffalo 300 $45,370
Niagara Falls 300 $45,370
Rochester 280 $47,830
Syracuse 220 $38,820
Albany 140 $43,310
Schenectady 140 $43,310
Troy 140 $43,310
Rome 130 $38,390
Utica 130 $38,390
Glens Falls 70 $41,180
Kingston 40 $48,780
Binghamton 30 $50,250
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 230 $58,640
Asheville 210 $60,370
High Point 160 $58,440
Greensboro 160 $58,440
Lenoir 130 $57,750
Morganton 130 $57,750
Hickory 130 $57,750
Rocky Mount 130 $65,870
Fayetteville 120 $53,910
Winston 90 $53,700
Salem 90 $53,700
Wilmington 90 $62,110
Chapel Hill 70 $57,410
Durham 70 $57,410
New Bern 50 $65,880
Greenville 40 $56,290
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Elyria 860 $60,160
Cleveland 860 $60,160
Columbus 690 $53,930
Toledo 460 $54,080
Dayton 350 $59,970
Massillon 340 $61,940
Canton 340 $61,940
Akron 180 $56,090
Springfield 70 $55,190
Mansfield 60 $57,390
Lima 40 $46,480
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 460 $55,850
Tulsa 310 $57,380
Lawton 30 $65,540
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Eugene 80 $58,080
Medford 70 $56,360
Salem 30 $57,800
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 920 $45,750
Harrisburg 300 $51,610
Carlisle 300 $51,610
Wilkes 240 $47,630
Scranton 240 $47,630
Barre 240 $47,630
Hazleton 240 $47,630
Lancaster 220 $48,760
Erie 150 $41,930
Hanover 120 $47,160
York 120 $47,160
Reading 80 $47,050
Altoona 70 $41,900
Johnstown 70 $42,000
Berwick 60 $49,430
Bloomsburg 60 $49,430
Williamsport 50 $43,620
Gettysburg 50 $56,540
Lebanon 40 $39,160
Chambersburg 40 $53,250
Waynesboro 40 $53,250
East Stroudsburg 30 $43,190
State College 30 $46,520
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Carolina 430 $23,410
Caguas 430 $23,410
San Juan 430 $23,410
Ponce 50 $18,730
Mayag�ez 40 $18,000
Isabela 30 $18,000
Aguadilla 30 $18,000
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbia 300 $69,540
Anderson 210 $53,330
Mauldin 210 $53,330
Greenville 210 $53,330
North Charleston 140 $50,700
Charleston 140 $50,700
Spartanburg 130 $48,660
Florence 70 $63,030
Bluffton 40 $49,300
Hilton Head Island 40 $49,300
Beaufort 40 $49,300
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 90 $35,640
Rapid City 40 $35,550
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 600 $56,660
Davidson 600 $56,660
Murfreesboro 600 $56,660
Nashville 600 $56,660
Knoxville 360 $49,720
Jackson 100 $53,970
Cleveland 70 $64,920
Johnson City 60 $54,610
Morristown 60 $55,950
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dallas 1850 $80,380
Arlington 1850 $80,380
Fort Worth 1850 $80,380
Sugar Land 910 $65,520
Houston 910 $65,520
The Woodlands 910 $65,520
New Braunfels 770 $70,980
San Antonio 770 $70,980
Round Rock 370 $66,900
Austin 370 $66,900
El Paso 320 $59,200
Mission 200 $69,000
McAllen 200 $69,000
Edinburg 200 $69,000
Tyler 170 $74,410
Corpus Christi 140 $81,140
Wichita Falls 90 $63,460
Killeen 80 $65,960
Temple 80 $65,960
Laredo 80 $69,350
Lubbock 80 $73,580
Amarillo 70 $56,510
Longview 70 $65,930
Victoria 60 $65,450
Waco 60 $71,510
Port Arthur 50 $68,190
Beaumont 50 $68,190
College Station 50 $74,390
Bryan 50 $74,390
Harlingen 40 $89,470
Brownsville 40 $89,470
Odessa 30 $58,200
Sherman 30 $61,240
Denison 30 $61,240
Midland N/A $54,280
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 190 $45,410
Clearfield 130 $55,140
Ogden 130 $55,140
Provo 80 $41,450
Orem 80 $41,450
St. George 40 $52,710
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 400 $38,580
Roanoke 120 $56,740
Blacksburg 60 $56,430
Radford 60 $56,430
Christiansburg 60 $56,430
Harrisonburg 60 $57,730
Lynchburg 60 $62,020
Charlottesville 30 $48,770
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tacoma 740 $59,430
Seattle 740 $59,430
Bellevue 740 $59,430
Spokane 120 $49,020
Spokane Valley 120 $49,020
Bellingham 60 $62,720
Tumwater 50 $58,250
Olympia 50 $58,250
Yakima 40 $42,390
Kennewick 40 $56,350
Richland 40 $56,350
Mount Vernon 30 $45,990
Anacortes 30 $45,990
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Morgantown 100 $25,110
Beckley 100 $53,420
Charleston 70 $47,260
Parkersburg 50 $53,220
Vienna 50 $53,220
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Allis 300 $51,340
Waukesha 300 $51,340
Milwaukee 300 $51,340
Madison 120 $45,800
Racine 50 $42,740
Green Bay 50 $47,310
Eau Claire 50 $47,740
Fond du Lac 40 $57,660
Beloit 30 $53,120
Janesville 30 $53,120
Oshkosh 30 $54,290
Neenah 30 $54,290
Appleton N/A $52,620
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cheyenne 30 $54,020

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Physical Therapist Assistants

To find out more about building a career as Physical Therapist Assistants, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Physical Therapist Assistants

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Medical Office 32,360 52% $45,540
Hospital 19,050 31% $45,630
Nursing And Residential Care 6,890 11% $50,630
Office Services And Staffing 1,140 1% $52,250
Government 730 1% $42,450
These schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles). Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.
 
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CityTownInfo Career and College Resources

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Physical Therapist Assistants.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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