Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Louisiana
As a physical therapist assistant, or PTA, you’ll help patients regain their mobility after it has been limited due to injury, surgery or illness. Physical therapist assistants partner with physical therapists to implement treatment plans involving stretching, light exercise, balance, and help while walking. To be a successful PTA, you should have a strong understanding of how the human body works and be an excellent communicator to help patients understand their treatment plans.
How to Get Your License
To become a PTA, you must first obtain your high school diploma or GED. You can then enroll in a PTA program, which results in either an Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapy Assisting degree or an Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assisting degree. The program you select must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE). Attending an accredited school is the only way to ensure that you will qualify to take the National Physical Therapy Exam.
Applying for a License
When applying for your PTA license, you will be required to submit transcripts, confirmation of clinical practice hours and recommendations from professors. Those who are applying for a license to be transferred from a different state may be granted a temporary license during this time.
You may take the National Physical Therapy Examination after submitting your application paperwork and the necessary fees. Applicants may take the test twice before they will be asked to take additional coursework to qualify for retesting. After passing the test, you will receive your license.
Louisiana PTA licenses expire every two years. Physical therapist assistants must take at least 30 hours of continuing education courses or activities, including jurisprudence, ethics and clinical work, within each two-year period to successfully renew their licenses.
Schools for Physical Therapist Assistants
Physical therapist assistant programs typically last two years and consist of in-class and clinical education. Students in Louisiana may consider the following schools for their programs:
- Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University (Fran U). This program accepts 26 students each year, giving each one individualized attention and support. Applicants to this five-semester program are advised to complete volunteer work or work experience in inpatient and outpatient settings prior to enrollment.
- Delgado Community College. Students at Delgado Community College complete up to 40 hours per week of instruction, including classroom and hospital or clinical education. They may also have the opportunity to attend clinics outside of the New Orleans area.
Career and Salary Estimates
Jobs for PTAs in Louisiana are expected to continue growing, with the Projections Managing Partnership estimating growth of 26.1 percent during the 10 years from 2016 to 2026. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a PTA in the state is $47,270.
Working as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Louisiana
Physical therapist assistants must be able to balance changing priorities with top-notch patient care. They work with new people each day, and strong listening, communication and attention to detail are critical. Physical therapist assistants typically work in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and private practices, and hours can range from contract positions to full-time roles. Jobs are generally easiest to find in large cities, such as New Orleans or Baton Rouge, though demand for PTAs is high throughout the state.