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Understanding the Steps to Obtain a Physical Therapy Assistant License


Physical therapy assistant license regulations may vary from State to State. Many States regulate the profession of a PTA differently than others. In most cases, you will be testing with a group of individuals writing the state exam at a given time and date. Sometimes the state exam will be organized by the school in which you graduated from, or they will at least try to prepare you for a given date corresponding with the end to your academic studies of your associates degree. Responsible educational institutes generally offer a portion of the course which will prepare you for the State license exam, in the state where your studies had taken place.  The State license exam will encompass not only state laws and regulations involving the best practices for a physical therapist assistant, but also the written exam which will test basic core knowledge of the subject in which you have graduated. State license are designed to prove the competency of the physical therapy assistant students who wish to work in a given state. While things can vary State to State, you can be sure that the exam covers patient care and protocols, patient monitoring and record-keeping, laboratory and testing procedures.

The regulations for Physical Therapy to work in a given State will almost always include the following:

  • A State license to work as an accredited licensed physical therapy assistant
  • Completion of an associates degree from one of the accredited physical therapy assistant schools
  • Graduates of the physical therapy assistant degree must then pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) which is given by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.

Relocation: The best advice that can be given on individuals who wish to relocate their work as a physical therapy assistant to another State, would be to check with the individual states licensing board. They more than often will have handouts, information sessions, or other information that can help you understand the scope of the exam that you will be required to complete to work in that given State. If you already have a license to work in one State and wish to relocate, often times you can receive a written endorsement which points to the fact that you hold or held a license for this profession from the State in which you will be leaving. The more prepared with the more documentation (copies of license, professional associations, transcripts, continuing education) the better off you will be.

Preparing for the State Licensing Exam: Once again this is usually a portion of the physical therapy assistant program in which you study. Often they will have a complete preparatory program offered by the college in which you study to prepare you for the licensed exam in that given State. As mentioned above the best advice would be to to contact the individual State in which you want your license to be active, discover what the steps are, and what resources are available to aid and assist you on this journey. More times than not you can make use of a study guide which will help you with your exam. The best medicine for passing your State licensing exam is preparation, much like you studied hard to complete your associates degree, do not take any professional State exam lightly with regards to being able to work as a physical therapy assistant. This is the final hurdle to your success.

Receiving your Physical Therapy Assistant License to work in the career that you had spent the previous years studying in, can be a nervous experience for many prospective professionals. Remember to treat this much like you treated your associates degree. The license is just part of the process to begin working in a truly satisfying career!