Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Arizona

A physical therapist assistant (PTA) can find work in nursing homes, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers and nursing homes. This is a perfect career field for anyone who enjoys helping people and wants to make a difference in the life of anyone who has been injured or is recovering from surgery.

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A physical therapist assistant will always work under a fully certified physical therapist (PT). They will be given directions from the PT, help them with patients and report back to them concerning each patient’s progress.

Obtaining Your License

To become a PTA in Arizona, you must first graduate from an accredited physical therapist assistant program. Regardless of which college you attend, you will need to complete an approved internship in addition to traditional coursework. Some of the classes you will need to take are biomechanics, kinesiology and clinical pathology. Once you have graduated, it will then be time for you to submit an application for examination and certification to the Arizona State Board of Physical Therapy. After your application has been reviewed and approved, the next step is to take the National Physical Therapy Examination and the Arizona Physical Therapy Jurisprudence Examination. The national exam is given in Flagstaff, Tucson, Goodyear, Tempe and Phoenix. In order to pass, you will need to score a minimum of 600.

PTA Education Programs in Arizona

It takes two years to complete a PTA degree from most colleges in Arizona. This will include about 75 percent classroom and laboratory time and 25 percent clinical work. Some colleges that offer PTA degree programs are:

  • Carrington College. This college, which is located in Mesa, AZ, offers an associate’s degree program that takes five semesters to complete. They have a 92 percent employment rate for students who graduate from their PTA program.
  • Gateway Community College. Gateway is a popular choice among high school students who have already decided they want to pursue a PTA degree. The GateWay Early College High School program allows students to complete their high school education while also earning an associate’s degree within five years or less. Because of state laws, clinicals and internships must wait until a student turns 18 years of age.
  • Maricopa Community College. In order to be accepted into the PTA program at Maricopa, you must first submit a background check. Before you can graduate, you will have to show proof of 40 hours of volunteer work or employment in a physical therapy practice. An additional 20 hours of inpatient work, such as at a nursing facility or hospital, is also required.

Career and Salary Statistics

PTAs in Arizona make an average of $55,020 a year. This is close to the national average, which is $56,850 a year. This salary can change drastically depending on what kind of environment you work in. Industrial or workplace settings generally pay the least, while physical therapy offices and sports and fitness facilities are likely to pay the most.

Getting a PTA degree in Arizona costs between $3,000 and $15,000 a year. This is a good career path, as the need for PTAs continues to grow in throughout the state. According to data collected by the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP), 870 PTAs were working in Arizona in 2016. PMP predicts that by 2026 that number will rise to 1,310.

Employment Outlook

As the general population ages, the need for PTAs will continue to increase; in fact, there is already a shortage of physical therapy assistants in most areas. This means that many types of employers are offering great incentives for PTAs who are looking for work.

The highest paying cities for PTAs to seek work in Arizona are Phoenix, Tucson and Mesa. The lowest paying cities are reported to be Cave Creek, Bisbee and Winslow.

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How much do physical therapist assistants earn in the state of Arizona?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist assistants in the state of Arizona made an average of $43,500 per year in 2019. Entry-level physical therapist assistants earned around $26,420 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $74,170.

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