Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Maryland
Physical therapist assistants, or PTAs, assist physical therapists in implementing patient treatment plans. These plans can include various types of exercise, stretching, balance work and training to help patients regain their mobility after surgery, illness or injury. Physical therapist assistants are knowledgeable when it comes to how the body works and often have excellent communication skills as well.
Receiving Your License
The first step in receiving your PTA license is to obtain your high school diploma or GED. You may then enroll in a physical therapist assistant program for additional training. These programs usually confer either an Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapy Assisting degree or an Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assisting degree. To qualify for the National Physical Therapy Exam, your program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE).
The Application Process
When you begin your application for a PTA license, you will be asked to submit school transcripts, confirmation of clinical practice hours and recommendations from your school professors. You may be issued a temporary license at this point if you are applying for a license transfer from another state.
After submitting your application paperwork and fees, you may take the National Physical Therapy Examination. If you fail the test twice, you must take additional educational courses before you will be allowed to take the exam again. Your license will be granted after you pass the test.
Physical therapist assistant licenses in Maryland must be renewed every two years, and PTAs must complete two continuing education credits — equivalent to 20 contact hours — to keep their licenses current.
Schools for PTAs in Maryland
Degree programs for physical therapist assistants generally take two years to complete and consist of classroom and clinical instruction. The following programs are available to students in Maryland:
- Howard Community College. Howard Community College provides a comprehensive education in physical therapy assisting. Students receive in-class and clinical training in teaching exercises, massage, use of physical modalities and patient progress measurement.
- Baltimore City Community College. This program uses lectures, skills labs and direct interaction with patients during internships to prepare students for their PTA careers. In recent years, 100 percent of students have passed their licensure exams.
Career and Salary Expectations
Physical therapist assistants are in high demand in Maryland. According to the Projections Managing Partnership, the industry is expected to grow by 27.1 percent in the 10 years from 2016 to 2026.
The U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual salary for PTAs in Maryland is $58,540.
Working as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Maryland
Physical therapist assistants enjoy rewarding, fast-paced careers that allow them to meet new people each day. To succeed in this role, PTAs should be good communicators and listeners with strong attention to detail and patience. They can work in a variety of healthcare settings, such as nursing homes and hospitals or schools and private practices. Jobs are most readily available in large cities, like Baltimore and Annapolis, though work can be found throughout the state.