Physical Therapy Assistant FAQ's
Q: What is a Physical Therapist Assistant?
A: A physical therapist assistant (PTA) is a health care provider who works under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist (PT) to provide rehabilitative or preventative measures to individuals with physical impairments.
Q: In what settings do PTAs work?
A: Physical Therapist Assistants work in a variety of settings including, but not limited to: hospitals, sports-injury clinics, schools, burn units, outpatient clinics, assisted living facilities, aquatic centers, rehabilitation centers, intensive care units, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities and home health care.
Q: What is the average salary of a PTA?
A: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor and Statistics, as of May, 2012 the mean salary for a PTA in the U.S. is $52,320, and in Texas the mean salary is $65,620. Entry-level salaries will vary and are typically less than the median salary. This does not include sign-on bonuses that some employers may offer. Salaries will depend on experience and skill level of the PTA and geographical location of the job.
Q: Will my PTA AAS degree help me continue to be a Physical Therapist?
A: Some students intend to continue their education after the PTA program and apply to a PT program. Students who are interested in this option should have a clear understanding of the following:
- Western Tech’s PTA Program is designed to prepare individuals to be employed as a PTA, as opposed to preparing an individual for entry into a PT program.
- A PT program typically results in a Doctoral degree. The technical courses in the PTA program are generally NOT transferable to a PT program; however, the general education courses may transfer if accepted by the university in which you are applying.
- Western Tech’s PTA program is NOT designed nor intended to meet the pre-requisites of a PT Program.
Q: Why do students need a background check to attend the PTA Program?
A: Due to the nature of the physical therapy profession we must make the patient’s safety a priority. Clinical facilities may also require students to pass a background check in order to clinically affiliate at their site. Furthermore, if you have a history of a felony conviction, it may not be possible for you to achieve licensure in the State of Texas. Most states will not grant licensure to persons with a history of a felony conviction. For more information, contact the governing board for the state in which you are considering applying for licensure. In Texas, the governing board is the Executive Council of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Examiners.
Q: Can a PTA own his/her own clinic or home health agency?
A: Yes. A PTA can own a private clinic or home health agency, but must they must still clinically practice under the direct supervision of a PT.
Q: I submitted my college transcripts to my WTC admissions representative; however they were not taken into consideration with my application. Why not?
A: All transcripts submitted for consideration of credit must be “official” and must be sent directly from the institution to us. If they are hand-delivered by the applicant, even if they are “sealed” or marked “official”, they cannot be accepted for consideration of credits. Most universities and colleges are well aware of these different types of transcripts. It is your responsibility to request the correct “official” transcript.
Also, be sure to have your transcripts submitted directly to the PTA program as noted on the application form. This can expedite your application process, and we can inform you in time to request the proper transcript if it is incorrect.
If credit was not awarded to you and you did, in-fact, take the course, remember that it does have to meet certain criteria. Please refer to the student catalog for more information on this.
Q: Are there evening classes offered for PTA.
A: At this time, no. We only offer the PTA program in the morning hours. Please refer to the catalog addendum for more information.
Q: Are there physical requirements for entry into the PTA program? If I have a disability, may I attend the PTA program?
A: There are “Technical Standards” that are required in order to attend the PTA program due to the nature of work that a PTA performs. We are able to make accommodations, however they are only granted on an individual basis. Please see the WTC catalog for specifics on this policy or contact the PTA Program Director to discuss special needs that you may have.
Q: Is there an age limit for applying to the PTA program.
A: No. However, all students must meet the minimum requirements of the “Technical Standards” listed for the PTA program in the WTC Catalog. There is a minimal age limit of 18 years of age to enter the PTA program. In other words, you must be 18 years old by the class start date.
Q: Is prior work in the Physical Therapy field required for admission into the PTA program?
A: No. However, work in the PT field can assist you in meeting the minimum requirements for volunteer/observation hours.
Q: Can I participate in the program if I am pregnant?
A: Yes, however you must still be able to adhere to the technical standards. You may also need clearance from your physician for your safety and the safety of your child. We stress that you should consider your safety and the safety of your child. If you feel you need accommodations based on your pregnancy, these will only be considered on individual basis and are not guaranteed, even if you are already an active student. See the WTC student Catalog on “Technical Standards” and our policy on accommodations.
Q: Are there refunds if I cannot pass the board exam?
Q: I want to be a PTA but I don’t want to take a lot of prerequisites and chance not being accepted into the program.
Western Tech’s PTA program is designed as an “integrated” program. If you are accepted into the program, the general education courses are included within the curriculum. You are not required to have any college credits or college courses as prerequisites in order to apply.
Q: If I’m already enrolled, why do I need to take a drug test and/or have my criminal background check completed again?
A: As part of the PTA curriculum, you will be required to attend three clinical affiliations. Each clinical affiliation site may have its own requirements that extend beyond what is required by WTC. It is possible that a clinical affiliation site may require an additional criminal background check and/or drug testing as well as health insurance. You will be required to comply with of these requests in order to be eligible to attend these clinical affiliations required for graduation. For more information regarding this policy, please refer to the student catalog.
Q: How many students do you accept and how often?
We accept a maximum of 24 students per cohort. We admit one cohort one time per year.
Q: I want to apply but I don’t see an updated application for your next class.
Updated applications for the PTA program will be available typically by September of each year for the application for following year. We leave the “old” application posted because there is valuable information that may help you decide how to go about starting the application process. We encourage and recommend that you begin the application requirements as soon as possible, even if you cannot submit the actual application until after September. Applicants that are applying “last minute” may have a hard time finding a clinic that will allow them to volunteer due to the many other people requesting the same. You may use the “Volunteer/Observation” and “Letter of Recommendation” forms even if they have not been updated that way you can start the process prior to September.
Q: I want to apply but I don’t see an updated deadline for the next class.
Deadlines and important dates regarding the application process for the PTA program will be updated on the website/application in September. Typically, our applications will be due mid-March and the start date for the class will be mid-July.
Q: One of your requirements for application is to volunteer/observe at a PT clinic. Why do my hours have to take place in two different facilities?
We do not require that you complete your hours in “two facilities”. We require a minimum of two areas of observation. What this is means is that you must observe two different PT settings. This is often completed in two settings, however, if a facility offers two different types of settings (such as a hospital that has an outpatient setting and an acute, inpatient setting), you may complete them in one location. We want you to be familiar with the physical therapy field and not just one aspect of it, which may give you a false interpretation of what the field has to offer.
The physical therapy profession has a VERY broad range of areas of practice. It also offers a wonderful variety of skills. We feel that the more familiar you are with the PT profession, the better educated your decision becomes on choosing your field of study.
Q: I am concerned about getting a job as a PTA when I graduate?
Since 2009 (our first graduating class), 100% of the WTC PTA graduates who obtained a license have gained employment. Please visit the “PTA Program Outcomes Data” on our webpage for more information. According to the U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment as a physical therapist assistant is expected to increase by 46% from 2010 to 2020 — much faster than average.