Iowa Physical Therapist Assistant Careers

For those who want to become physical therapists (PTs) or who are looking for a physical therapy careerwith two years of education, physical therapist assisting could be an ideal career path.

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Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are health professionals trained to assist physical therapists with patient care, monitoring and education. They’re trained in massage, stretching and physical therapy equipment to offer patient services as instructed by a PT. A majority of PTAs work in physical, occupational and speech therapy offices, while a large number work in hospital settings. Afew PTAs may find employment in physicians’ offices, nursing facilities and government healthcare facilities.

The Path to Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant

To become a physical therapist assistant in Iowa, you need only an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree, unlike physical therapists, who are required to have a master’s or doctoral degree. Before pursuing your AAS, you’ll need to graduate high school or earn your GED.

After you receive your AAS in physical therapy from a school accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), you’ll be able to take the national physical therapy exam(NPTE). With a passing score on this exam, you can then apply for licensure to practice as a physical therapist assistant in Iowa through the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).

Iowa Education Options for PTAs

Many community colleges in Iowa offer physical therapy assistant programs, including:

  • Kirkwood Community College. This school’s Linn County Regional Center in Hiawatha offers a two-year AAS degree in physical therapist assisting.Students who enroll in this program may be eligible to receive the Kibbie Grant, which covers half of their tuition. This is a grant offered to students studying eligible professions in Iowa community colleges.
  • Hawkeye Community College. Hawkeye College,located in Waterloo, offers students a PTA program with 640 hours of clinical experience to prepare them for entrance in the workforce. From 2014 to 2017, 100 percent of graduates who passed the NPTE gained employment within six months of its completion.

Getting Your PTA License

After completing the steps leading up to a PTA license, Iowa physical therapist assistants must apply for licensure through the IDPH. Iowa is part of the Physical Therapy Compact Commission (PT Compact). This agreement allows licensed physical therapist assistants to apply for credentials so they can practice in states other than Iowa. Iowa PTAs may gain the ability to work in Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Utah without applying for licensure in those states.

A Promising Career for Physical Therapist Assistants

The Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) projects Iowa’s demand for physical therapist assistantsto grow 29.9 percent by the year 2026, which is right on track with the national growth rate of 30 percent. Both estimated employment growth rates are exceptionally high compared to other jobs across the nation.

Iowa PTAs earned a median income of $22.57 per hour in 2017, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This income was also in line with the national median income of $22.56 per hour that year.

Where to Work as a PTA

Physical therapist assistants are in high demand across the entire state of Iowa. The highest rate of employment for physical therapist assistants per 1,000 jobs in 2017 was in the Southwest Iowa nonmetropolitan area. However, the highest paid PTAs that year worked in the Davenport, Des Moines and Waterloo areas. Furthermore, Cedar Rapids and the Northwest Iowa nonmetropolitan areas employ the highest number of PTAs in the state, according to the BLS.

With a strong number of employment opportunities across the state, scholarships dedicated to this career field and a strong income rate, it’s never been a better time to become a PTA in Iowa. To prepare for college, take advanced health courses such as biology and anatomy while in high school and begin looking at community colleges that offer PTA education.

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

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist assistants in the state of Iowa made an average of $51,670 per year in 2019. Entry-level physical therapist assistants earned around $35,780 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $71,700.

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