How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Arkansas
A physical therapist assistant (PTA) is someone who works under the supervision of a physical therapist (PT) and assists the PT with therapies designed to help patients relieve their pain, promote fitness and improve mobility.
PTAs work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, home health agencies, rehabilitation centers and fitness facilities. This is a physically demanding job that involves walking, kneeling, stooping and lifting for long periods of time.
Getting Your PTA License
To obtain your PTA license in Arkansas, first you must graduate from a college that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education. Once you have graduated, you will need to start the application process with the Arkansas State Board of Physical Therapy. This application will allow you to take all the required exams to become licensed. With the application you will have to include your past employment information, a passport-sized photo of yourself, a sealed copy of your transcripts and the date you would like to take your National Physical Therapy Examination.
Colleges Offering PTA Programs in Arkansas
It takes two years to complete a PTA degree from most colleges. This will include both classroom time and internships. Some colleges that offer PTA degree programs are:
- NorthWest Arkansas Community College. Applications for the PTA program at NorthWest are available each year from November 1st through March 1st. All prerequisite courses have to be completed by the end of the spring semester, prior to turning in the program application. As part of the application process, students have to go to three physical therapy clinics and observe for nine hours total.
- South Arkansas Community College. The physical therapist assistant program at SACC is limited to 20 students each year. Students are selected based on recommendations, personal statements and GPAs in prerequisite courses. Admitted students have an average GPA of 3.6.
- Arkansas Tech University. Before being admitted to the PTA program, students have to complete 28 hours of general education and medical classes. Because of the strenuous nature of the PTA program, students are not allowed to take any classes that are not required to graduate the PTA program. Approximately 33 hours a week of classroom and fieldwork are required.
Career and Salary Expectations
PTAs in Arkansas make an average of $56,510 a year, which is on par to the national average of $56,850 for this field. This salary can change drastically depending on what kind of environment you work in. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest paid PTAs in Arkansas earned an average of $72,510 in 2017. PTAs who earned that much had years of experience, worked in specialized fields and maintained a good reputation.
Going to school to get a PTA degree in Arkansas costs between $2,500 and $8,000 a year. This is an excellent career path, as the need for PTAs continues to grow throughout the state. According to data collected by the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP), 290 PTAs were working in Arkansas in 2016. PMP predicts that by 2026 that number will rise 31 percent to 380.
PTA Employment Outlook
As the general population ages, the need for PTAs will continue to increase; this is especially true when it comes to specialized areas of physical therapy. PTAs who have certification from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties can command a higher wage than PTAs who do not work in a specialized area, such a women’s health, sports or pediatrics.
The highest paying Arkansas cities for PTAs to seek work are Little Rock, Fayetteville and Jonesboro. The lowest paying areas are Batesville, Monticello and Beebe.
How much do physical therapist assistants earn in the state of Arkansas?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist assistants in the state of Arkansas made an average of $59,180 per year in 2019. Entry-level physical therapist assistants earned around $40,790 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $80,270.