How to Become a Personal Therapist Assistant in Michigan

A physical therapist assistant, or PTA, is an aide who works alongside physical therapists and their patients. They often work directly with patients with direct and indirect supervision. PTAs and physical therapists work with people to help them recover from injuries, improve mobility and reduce pain by using guided exercises.

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As a PTA you will be an important part of healthcare, helping to make people feel more comfortable, communicating a therapist’s instructions and educating patients. It is meaningful work, and it only takes a couple of years of post-secondary training and education to be qualified and find a job in Michigan.

Steps to Becoming a Personal Therapist Assistant

The first step in being qualified to work as a PTA in Michigan is to find, enroll in and complete an appropriate education program after graduating from high school or earning a GED. The program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

With a two-year degree from one of these programs, you will be ready to pass the National Physical Therapy Assistants Exam (NPTAE), which is required for licensing in the state. You can then apply to Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs for an official license to begin working as a physical therapist assistant.

PTA Programs in Michigan

There are several schools in Michigan that offer CAPTE-accredited programs for becoming a PTA. These are just a few of them:

  • Finlandia University, Hancock. Finlandia offers the only accredited PTA program in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The classwork is focused on hands-on learning with a ratio of one teacher to six students. The program also includes 560 hours of clinical experience. It can be completed in five semesters.
  • Henry Ford College, Dearborn. This associate’s degree program includes an entire final semester spent in clinical practice for 40 hours per week. Admission is selective and requires that students already have two courses completed in medical terminology and anatomy and physiology.
  • Baker College, Allen Park, Auburn Hills, Flint, and Muskegon. Baker offers an accredited PTA program at several campuses in the state. Students in all of these programs earn an associate’s degree through classroom courses as well as hands-on and clinical experience. The admission process is selective and limited.

Certification for Michigan PTAs

In Michigan, PTAs must be licensed through the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs before being able to work. You can apply to the department, and you must include proof of completion of an accredited program. To qualify, you also must pass the NPTAE exam and a Michigan Jurisprudence exam.

Once licensed in the state, you can begin working as a physical therapist assistant. You will need to keep your licensing up-to-date by renewing it every two years. You must also complete 24 professional development requirements in the two years leading up to renewal.

Salary and Career Outlook in the State

Growth in jobs for physical therapist assistants is big throughout the country. Across all states these jobs are increasing at a stunning rate of 30 percent, and Michigan matches that. In 2016, there were 1,630 PTAs employed in the state. That is expected to rise to 2,130 by 2026.

Not only will job opportunities be numerous in Michigan in the coming years, but salaries will exceed the national average for PTAs. In 2017, PTAs in Michigan earned $25.77 per hour and $53,610 per year on average. The top 10 percent of earning PTAs made over $85,000 that year. Nationwide, the average annual salary for a PTA is $46,920.

Finding Jobs as a PTA in Michigan

Once you are qualified to work as a PTA in the state, finding a position should not be difficult. There will be plenty of jobs added over the next few years. Big areas for jobs will include major population centers, like the Detroit metropolitan area and southeastern Michigan in general, as well as Grand Rapids in the western part of the state.

Most physical therapist assistants work in physical therapy practices. They are also hired by hospitals, nursing homes and other residential facilities, and by home healthcare companies. You have a lot of options as you begin to look for a job as a PTA in Michigan.

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

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist assistants in the state of Michigan made an average of $54,220 per year in 2019. Entry-level physical therapist assistants earned around $37,430 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $67,810.

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