How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Kentucky

Jobs in healthcare are booming right now, and there are plenty of careers you can choose from that don’t require a four-year degree. One of those is physical therapist assistant, or PTA. As a PTA in Kentucky you will work under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist, but you will be able to work independently and hands-on with patients.

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PTAs are responsible for implementing therapy plans created by physical therapists. They guide patients through exercises, educate patients, and communicate and explain instructions from therapists, all while making sure patients are comfortable and progressing. In Kentucky, you must be licensed to be a PTA, but the educational requirement is just a two-year degree.

PTA Requirements in Kentucky

If you would like to start working as physical therapist assistant in Kentucky, you will first need to complete high school with a diploma or earn a GED. Then you can enroll in a post-secondary program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

The Kentucky Board of Physical Therapy also requires that you get a passing score on the National Physical Therapy Assistants Exam (NPTAE). When you apply for licensing, you will also need to pass a jurisprudence exam in Kentucky law and an FBI background check.

Accredited Programs in Kentucky

You do need to complete a program that is accredited by CAPTE in order to be eligible for licensing in the state. There are several options in Kentucky, including:

  • Jefferson Community and Technical College, Louisville. In the state’s biggest city, students have access to this accredited PTA program, which can be completed in just 16 months to earn an associate’s degree. The program includes 28 general education credits and 40 physical therapy credits. Admissions are selective.
  • West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Paducah. West Kentucky offers an associate’s degree program for PTAs. It takes a minimum of five semesters to complete the course of study, but may take longer if students attend on a part-time basis. The admissions process for the program is selective, but you can get bonus points for earning an A in anatomy and physiology and algebra and for having work experience in healthcare related to physical therapy.
  • Hazard Community and Technical College, Hazard. The Hazard PTA program also confers an associate’s degree and can be completed in two years. Students take general education courses as well as their physical therapy classes. They also finish several credits in clinical practice, getting hands-on work experience under licensed physical therapists.

Certification Steps in Kentucky

To work as a PTA in Kentucky, your first step is to enroll in one of these or another accredited program in the state. Once you complete that program, you will be eligible to apply to the state Board for licensing as a PTA.

Before graduating, you need to have your fingerprints taken with the Kentucky State Police. These will be used for a federal background check, which must be done at least three months before taking the exam, the NPTE. The next steps include paying the application fee of $200 and passing the state’s jurisprudence exam. Your PTA license will need to be renewed every year by March 31st. Renewal requires a fee and proof of 20 hours of continuing education.

Salary and Career Outlook for Kentucky PTAs

The national median salary for PTAs is $46,920, but those working in Kentucky make even more. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PTAs in the state earned an average of $26.05 per hour and $54,180 per year in 2017. The PTAs in Kentucky earning the most made more than $73,000 per year.

The outlook in Kentucky is also outstanding for PTAs. The growth in the number of jobs available for qualified PTAs is expected to be nearly 23 percent between 2016 and 2026. There should be nearly 200 additional positions available in the coming years.

Working as a PTA

PTAs mostly work for physical therapy practices, which may be stand-alone or affiliated with a hospital or surgical center. Other options for employment are with hospitals, in residential facilities like nursing homes, and in home healthcare, which involves going into patients’ homes to work with them. In Kentucky, with so much growth in the industry, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a job in any setting or area you want.

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

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist assistants in the state of Kentucky made an average of $53,080 per year in 2019. Entry-level physical therapist assistants earned around $31,570 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $72,390.

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