How to Become a Personal Therapist Assistant in Massachusetts
The role of a physical therapist assistant, or PTA, is crucial for helping patients recover from surgery and injuries. They work under the supervision of physical therapists, PTs, actually working with patients to do exercises and provide massage and assistance that improve mobility and relieve pain.
Demand for qualified PTAs in Massachusetts is high, and meeting the requirements to work in this role usually takes less than two years. With just a two-year college degree you can be ready to start working in healthcare with great job stability and a good income.
What You Need to be a PTA in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, it is the Board of Allied Health Professionals that is responsible for setting the requirements for working as a PTA in the state. To work as a PTA in Massachusetts, you will need to be licensed through the Board.
The first thing you need to meet the requirements is a high school diploma or GED. You will then need to enroll in and complete a Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education-accredited post-secondary degree program for physical therapist assistants. That program should prepare you to pass the National Physical Therapy Assistants Exam (NPTAE), which is also required for licensing.
Approved Programs in Massachusetts
To begin your journey to becoming a licensed PTA in the state, you have to find, enroll in and complete an accredited program at a college or community college. These are just a few examples of approved programs available in Massachusetts:
- Bay State College, Boston. This program is accessible to students in the Boston area and culminates in an associate’s degree in PTA. Students complete a service learning project as part of the program, which benefits the local community, and participate in over 700 hours of hands-on, clinical practice with real patients. The program’s pass rate on the NPTAE has been 100 percent for six years.
- Springfield Technical Community College, Springfield. This associate’s degree program in physical therapy assisting takes two years to complete. Coursework includes general education classes as well as physical therapy classes and training. Students earn 12 credits as part of clinical experience, working with patients.
- North Shore Community College, Danvers. The Associate of Applied Science degree in PTA for students at North Shore can be completed on a full-time basis or as a part-time option. The latter takes seven semesters to complete and allows students to work while they learn.
How to Earn a PTA License
In Massachusetts, once you have completed your PTA program, you can register to take the national exam and apply for licensing through the Board of Allied Health Professionals. The total cost for applying for a PTA license in Massachusetts is $226. The license must be renewed every two years. The renewal fee is $100, but there are no continuing education requirements. Renewal times are based on your birthday.
Physical Therapist Assistant Salaries and Job Growth
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median salary for PTAs is $46,920. Massachusetts is above average with a median annual salary of $62,400 and an average hourly salary of $30.00. The PTAs earning in the top 10 percent in the state make more than $79,000 per year.
Along with strong salaries, PTAs training in Massachusetts right now can expect to have plenty of job opportunities. Growth in the career in the state is over 18 percent. There will be plenty of new and open positions for qualified PTAs in the coming years.
PTAs work in a hands-on environment. They work in healthcare settings, directly working with and handling patients. It is a physical job that requires stamina and strength. Most PTAs are hired to work in physical therapy practices, but there are also jobs available in hospitals, nursing homes and in patient homes as part of a home healthcare team. Look for positions all over Massachusetts, but especially in the cities and suburbs of Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Lowell and Cambridge.
How much do physical therapist assistants earn in the state of Massachusetts?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist assistants in the state of Massachusetts made an average of $64,310 per year in 2019. Entry-level physical therapist assistants earned around $45,150 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $81,750.