Questions for Individuals Interested in Becoming a PTA
The field of physical therapy is a rapidly growing component of American’s healthcare sector. With excellent job and salary prospects, it has become the preferred choice for many individuals seeking to become healthcare professionals. One of the most popular specialties in this field is the physical therapy assistant or PTA.
PTAs assist physical therapists, registered nurses and physicians in providing physical therapy to a wide range of patients. As a licensed position, PTAs enjoy a wide range of professional development options in a field that is expected to continue to enjoy robust growth for the foreseeable future.
Job Prospects For PTAs
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has determined that as of May 2012 there were over 71,000 active PTA jobs in the United States. The PTA job sector is currently experiencing excellent growth. In fact, the BLS has determined that the number of available jobs for qualified PTAs will increase by at least 41 percent by 2022.
In addition to the newly created job openings that will require qualified workers there will be a number of job openings due to retirements and other sources of job attrition among existing PTA positions.
In addition, licensed PTAs enjoy excellent salaries compared to other positions that require a similar level of education and work experience. Currently, the median annual salary for American PTAs stands at over $52,000. Those PTAs in the top 10 percent of the field can earn over $72,000.
In addition, most PTAs have excellent benefits including paid vacation time, sick leave and generous individual and family health insurance packages. For this reason, becoming a PTA can be especially attractive for those individuals who are seeking a long-term career that can support a growing family.
Asking the Right Questions About a PTA Career
However, it is important to ask the right questions before entering a career as a PTA. Determining whether or not a career as a PTA is an appropriate choice can help ensure that the candidate does not waste his or her time and money. Among the five most important questions are the following:
• Is the individual interested in working in the healthcare field?
• Can the candidate complete the educational requirements to become a PTA?
• Where does the candidate wish to work as a PTA?
• Has the candidate committed any legal offenses that may make it impossible to become a licensed PTA?
• Is the candidate interested in becoming a specialist?
Is the Candidate Interested in Working in the Healthcare Sector
While working as a PTA can be an exciting and rewarding career, it is also a long-term professional commitment. For this reason, anyone considering this field should make certain that they are interested in working in the healthcare field. This field will require that the PTA be able to effectively work with his or her fellow professionals, superiors and a wide number of patients.
Furthermore, the PTA may be exposed to seriously ill individuals, especially if he or she focuses on working with individuals who have suffered traumatic injuries or degenerative diseases. However, it is important to note that there are a wide range of physical therapy specialties. For this reason, it is easily possible to find a career that suits the individual’s career goals.
Can the Candidate Complete the Educational Requirements to Become a PTA?
Most full-time students will take approximately two years to complete a PTA program. Many programs also offer part-time and online options for those students who cannot attend regularly scheduled classes. However, anyone planning to enter a PTA program should be certain that he or she has the basic skills needed to complete the program.
In general, the student must be able to effectively communicate with his or her instructors and possess a strong backing in math and science. For this reason, it is important to focus on math, science and English in high school. Individuals who are intending on becoming a PTA should ensure that they have the basic skills needed to complete the program.
If necessary, they should take remedial education courses before entering the PTA program in order to avoid later academic difficulty.
Where Does the Candidate Wish to Work?
Although there is a nation-wide demand for licensed PTAs, the candidate should consider where he or she wishes to work when preparing to become a PTA. In general, urban areas will have a wider range of job opportunities, but will also face higher living costs.
Rural areas may demand more travel on the part of the PTA, especially if he or she is providing in home care to patients. In addition, PTAs who have or are intending on starting a family may need to ensure that their job site is located conveniently close to schools and other institutions.
Questions About Legal Offenses and PTAs
Many states will not license individuals who have been convicted of certain criminal offenses. In general, offenses that will bar an individual from becoming a licensed PTA include drug-related crimes as well as sex offenses and other felony convictions.
In some cases, the state may judge an individual’s offense on a case-by-case basis while other states simply bar all individuals who have been convicted of the crime in question.
For this reason, anyone intending on becoming a PTA must ensure that he or she has not committed any offenses that will prevent the candidate from obtaining licensure as a PTA.
Does the Candidate Wish to Become a Specialist?
Becoming a specialist can be an excellent choice for those PTAs who are interested in improving their professional options. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offers a number of specialist certifications for interested PTAs.
PTAs who are interested in becoming certified specialists must be prepared to complete a rigorous course of study while remaining licensed in their home state. However, the growing demand for specialist PTAs has ensured that certified specialist PTAs will continue to enjoy excellent salary and professional advancement options.
A PTA who expects to become a specialist should seek out a position where he or she can easily obtain the experience and training needed to fulfill the APTA’s certification requirements.
Becoming a PTA is an excellent choice for newly graduated individuals and those seeking to transition into a new career alike. By asking these questions, anyone interested in becoming a PTA can be assured that he or she will be fully prepared to enter this growing and highly rewarding career field.