Physical therapist assistants (PTA) work under the supervision and guidance of licensed physical therapists (PT), in helping provide physical rehabilitation to patients. PTA’s assist patients in teaching them how to perform various exercise modalities that will help improve their coordination, strength, and mobility, as well as using therapeutic massage techniques and administering ultrasounds, electrical stimulation and hydrotherapy.
PT assistants work with a wide variety of patients suffering from mobility issues related to injury, age or disease. Most of the work tends to be with people who are recovering from injuries as well as helping prevent injuries before they happen.
Physical therapist assistants are commonly employed include outpatient sports medicine clinics, patients’ homes, hospitals, nursing facilities and schools.
The job growth rate for physical therapist assistants is faster than the national average and expected to increase by 29% or higher through the year 2020. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Information Network (O*NET), PTA’s earned a median income of $52,160 in 2012. Overall, this health profession is considered as having a bright outlook for those looking to get into this career.
Most Popular Career College PTA Programs
1. Medical Career Institute PTA Program
The Medical Career Institute offers an Associate of Applied Science – Physical Therapist Assistant degree. It’s an 18-month program and according to the school, 84% of the students graduate in this length of time with a 95% average exam pass rate from 2009-2011 for the Newport News campus.
There is no data on the Richmond campus because the first graduating class was on 7/22/12.
The MCI PTA program is 73 semester credits with 23 of those credits being put towards general education and the other 50 credits applied to physical therapy technical courses.
This full time program combines classroom teaching, lab time and clinical experience. Clinical training involves 3 clinical rotations consisting of one 10-week rotation and two 5-week rotations.
Campus Locations: Newport News, VA; Richmond, VA
2. Pima Medical Institute PTA Program
The Pima Medical Institute’s physical therapist assistant program awards students with an associate degree and is designed to be completed in 18 months. The average graduation rate is 86.48% with a 90.35% average exam pass rate. 66.5 credits are required to complete Pima’s PTA program.
The first two semesters are strictly classroom learning and lab work. Semesters three, four and five include classroom learning, lab work and externships. 80 hours of externship is required for semesters three and four with semester five requiring 280 hours of externship as a clinical practicum.
Campus Locations: Albuquerque, NM; Denver, CO, Houston, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Mesa, AZ; Seattle, WA; Tucson, AZ
3. Brown Mackie College PTA Program
Brown Mackie College offers an Associate of Applied Science – Physical Therapist Assistant degree. This is a 27-month program and approximately 90% of students complete the program in this length of time.
The average license pass rate for the South Bend campus is 92.456% and 58% for 2011 at the Fort Wayne campus. Fort Wayne is a newer campus with 2011 being the first graduating class. Both campuses offer their “One Course A Month” schedule, allowing students to fit classes into their schedules easily. Especially ideal for working adults looking to make the transition to a new career easy as possible.
Brown Mackie’s PTA program places emphasis on coursework that focuses on learning physical therapy skills, neurological rehabilitation, orthopedics, neuromuscular conditions, assessment techniques, anatomy & physiology and functional skills development.
Campus Locations: Fort Wayne, IN; South Bend, IN
4. Keiser University PTA Program
Keiser University offers an Associate of Science – Physical Therapist Assistant degree program with an average graduation rate of 73% and 82% average license exam pass rate.
This program requires 74 credits to complete; 26 hours of those credits are for general education and 48 of the credits are targeted towards physical therapy specific courses.
Keiser’s PTA program is a blend of classroom coursework, lab work and clinical experience. Students will learn treatment programs, data collection skills, communication skills and patient education information.
Campus Locations: Main campus is located in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Additional campus locations are located in the following cities in Florida: Daytona Beach, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Melbourne, Miami, Orlando, Pembroke Pines, Port St. Lucie, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.
5. Brookline College PTA Program
Brookline College’s PTA program awards an Associate of Science – Physical Therapist Assistant degree. Since the program is new, there is currently no graduating class data nor any data on license exam pass rates.
70 credits are required for completion of the program which is designed to be completed in 75 weeks, or just a little under a year-and-a-half. 15 credits are alotted for general education and 55 credits towards physical therapy courses with 640 clinical practicum hours.
Brookline’s PTA program consists of classroom coursework, labs and clinical rotations.
Campus Locations: Phoenix, AZ
6. Concorde Career College PTA Program
Concorde’s PTA program awards an Associate of Applied Science – Physical Therapist Assistant degree with an average graduation rate of 97% for the Memphis location and 96.30% for North Hollywood. The program is new at the other locations and there is no data for them as of yet.
Length of time to complete Concorde Career Colleges PTA program is 20 months on average, though can vary by a few months depending on campus location. The program has both classroom coursework and lab work, requiring roughly 640 clinical hours, and typically consists of 76 credits total.
Campus Locations: San Diego, CA; San Bernardino, CA; North Hollywood, CA; Garden Grove, CA; San Antonio, TX; Dallas, TX; Aurora, CO; Kansas City, MO; Memphis, TN; Miramar, FL; Jacksonville, FL.
7. New England Institute of Technology PTA Program
NEIT’s PTA program has an average graduation rate of 60% and a 73% average license exam pass rate. It offers a mixture of classroom lectures, labs, and off-campus clinical experience. Coursework includes physical therapy, kinesiology, data collection, anatomy & physiology, healthcare practice and more.
Campus Location: East Greenwich, RI
8. South University PTA Program
South University’s PTA program is designed to be completed in 25 months and has a graduate rate of 83%. This program awards an Associate of Science degree in physical therapy assisting and includes both general education and targeted courses as part of the didactic curriculum.
Campus Locations: Novi, MI; Virginia Beach, VA; Richmond, VA; Savannah, GA; Montgomery, AL; Tampa, FL; West Palm Beach, FL.
9. Carrington College PTA Program
Carrington College’s Physical Therapist Assistant program awards an Associate’s Degree and has a graduation rate of 76.5% with a license exam pass rate of 54%. The PTA student curriculum includes in-class courses, labs and clinical experience – all of which will prepare them for their national exam.
Carrington also offers either a certificate or an Associate’s Degree in Physical Therapy Technology. This program is 50% classroom coursework and 50% lab work, including field trips and practical application of the knowledge learned.
Campus Locations: Locations: Pleasant Hill, CA; Mesa, AZ; Phoenix, AZ; Tuscon, AZ; Boise, ID; Albuquerque, NM; Las Vegas, NV
10. Penn Foster Career School PT Aide Program
Penn Foster actually offers a physical therapy aide diploma that can be completed in just a month. Though this is NOT a PT assistant program, it is a viable option for those interested in quickly being able to work in the PT field.
No licensure, certification or registration is required in any state to work as an aide. It’s not uncommon to start out as a PT aide to gain work experience before enrolling in a PT assistant or even Doctor of Physical Therapy program eventually. You’ll mainly learn about various medical terminology and treatment modalities related to physical rehabilitation. There is no clinical training component as the program is completely web-based.
Campus Locations: Online