How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Minnesota
A great choice for a career in healthcare is to train to become a licensed physical therapist assistant (PTA). It takes just two years of school to be prepared to meet the requirements for licensing, and this is a job that allows you to work directly with patients, making a real difference every day.
PTAs work under the supervision of physical therapists. They do not plan treatment for patients, but they are engaged in implementing the plans and working directly with people recovering from injuries and surgeries. As a PTA in Minnesota, you can work in a hospital, physical therapy office or residential care facility, helping people regain mobility and live with less pain.
Requirements for Physical Therapist Assistants in Minnesota
In Minnesota, as in most states, you will need to first graduate from high school or earn your GED and then enroll in and complete a post-secondary physical therapist assistant program. This is the first step in meeting the requirements for licensing, which are set by the Minnesota Board of Physical Therapy. Other requirements include passing a national exam, clearing a criminal background check and providing two references.
In the state of Minnesota, PTAs are allowed to work with patients under direct or indirect supervision of a licensed physical therapist. The only things that PTAs are not allowed to do are evaluate patients, plan or change treatment, provide the initial treatment and prepare the final or initial patient documentation.
To qualify for licensing in Minnesota, you need to complete a program that has been approved by the board and accredited by the by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
- St. Catherine University, Minneapolis. One of the CAPTE programs in the state is easily accessible for students in the Twin Cities. This program confers a two-year associate’s degree after completing a few pre-PTA credit requirements. Graduates are prepared to pass the national exam and become licensed in Minnesota.
- Lake Superior College, Duluth. The Lake Superior program in Duluth offers students the chance to train to become PTAs through classroom learning and hands-on clinical work with real PT patients. Admission is selective and requires some pre-requisites and volunteer hours.
- Northland Community and Technical College, East Grand Forks. This program for PTA includes 72 credits of coursework. The courses include laboratory activities, practice sessions and real-world experience in clinical settings. Admission requires volunteer hours or work experience in a physical therapy office.
Applying for Licensing in Minnesota
Minnesota requires that PTAs be licensed by the Board of Physical Therapy. To become licensed, you will need to complete the appropriate application after finishing an approved academic program, like one of those listed above.
You will need to supply transcripts for your completed program and take and pass the National Physical Therapy Assistants Exam (NPTAE). Your application will also include proof of a background check and two recommendations or references. The license expires and must be renewed every year.
Career Outlook and Average Salaries
You can expect to have good opportunities for employment in Minnesota once you are licensed as a PTA. Growth in jobs for PTAs in the state is strong. The number of jobs available is expected to continue to grow at a rate of almost 15 percent for the next few years.
Salaries are also strong in the state. The national average salary for PTAs is $46,920, but in Minnesota it is $53,350 per year and $25.65 per hour. The most experienced PTAs, those working in larger facilities and those with greater leadership roles earn the most. The top 10 percent of physical therapist assistants in the state are making more than $65,000 per year.
Working as a PTA in Minnesota
About half of all PTAs are hired by physical therapy practices. These are mostly private practices in medical centers, which may be affiliated with hospitals or surgical centers. Other options for employment include nursing homes, hospitals and home healthcare providers.
The need for qualified PTAs is big in the state, but look for the greatest opportunities for employment in the most populous cities and their suburbs: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester and Duluth. Even in rural areas and smaller cities, you should be able to find rewarding work as a licensed PTA.