How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Alaska
A physical therapist assistant, also known as a PTA, helps patients who are recovering from injuries or surgery and patients with disabilities or those who are mobility impaired. They work with physical therapists to modify and implement therapy programs.
The career of a PTA is one that is high in demand in the state of Alaska. Completing the licensure requirements to work in the state can take two years or less. If you are interested in a stable job where you can help people and make a good living while doing so, you should consider becoming a PTA.
Alaska PTA Requirements
In Alaska, the Board of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy regulates the profession of a physical therapist assistant. You must become licensed through the Board in order to work as a PTA in the state. Those interested in becoming licensed as a PTA must have a high school diploma or GED. Next, you will need to complete an approved PTA training program. Then you must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) and apply for licensure.
Approved Alaska PTA Programs
Community and vocational colleges usually offer PTA training programs and they can generally be completed in two years or less. Many states prefer that students complete a program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Alaska has limited options for PTA programs.
The best one is offered by the University of Alaska Anchorage. It is a limited admission program with only 12 students admitted each year. Students who complete the program will receive an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. The program can be completed in five semesters, or two years. The program has a 100 percent graduation rate, board exam pass rate and post-graduation employment rate.
How to Earn a PTA License
After you have completed a PTA training program, you can apply for licensure by examination through the Board. You will need to show proof of having graduated from a PTA program, a reference from someone who trained you or observed your training and complete a jurisprudence questionnaire. Then, you will pay an exam fee and take the NPTE. If you pass, you will be eligible for licensure. Once licensed, you will need to renew your license every two years by paying a fee and earning 24 continued education credits.
PTA Salaries and Job Growth in Alaska
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2017, PTAs in Alaska were making an average $29.40 hourly, or $61,150 annually. The national median annual salary in this career in 2017 was $57,430. The top earning PTAs in the state can potentially make $78,120 annually.
The growth for PTAs in the state is strong as well. In 2016, according to the Projections Managing Partnership, there were 70 PTAs working in the state. In 2026, it is predicted that there will be 90, which is a growth rate of 28.6 percent.
Working as a PTA in Alaska
PTAs work in healthcare, usually in physical therapy centers. They may also find work in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers or in home health. PTAs must have good communication skills, as they will be communicating with patients and sometimes with their families about the patient’s therapy and progress. PTAs also do a lot of hands-on work with patients. Health Quest Therapy is a large physical therapy center that has several locations throughout Alaska and is a good place to consider working as a PTA in the state.
With a high growth rate in Alaska, there should be plenty of job openings for PTAs in the coming years. Some of the larger cities have the highest employment rates for this profession. These include Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan and Kodiak.