How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in North Dakota

Becoming a physical therapist assistant (PTA) is a lucrative and stable profession. A PTA is a person who assists patients in recovery. They provide rehabilitation expertise to people who have had surgery, neurological trauma or sports injuries. Under the direction of a physical therapist (PT, physical therapist assistants are responsible for helping to help create and implement treatment plans that include walking exercises, balance assistance and support in everyday activities. PTAs need to be able to communicate with patience and empathy. Many physical therapist assistants work in nursing homes or hospitals and sometimes private rehab facilities. You can become a PTA in North Dakota after following the appropriate laws and licenings requirements to practice.

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Application Process for Physical Therapist Assistants

If you plan to become a PTA, you’ll need to graduate high school or get your GED. Then you’ll need to find the right post-secondary school for you and enroll in a PTA training program that is state-approved and accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapist Education (CAPTE). Unfortunately, CAPTE has not approved any PTA programs located in North Dakota. Their suggestion is to check for colleges in Minnesota.

The PTA courses are part of a two-year program, after which you’ll graduate with an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Physical Therapist Assistant degree. After completing the program, you’ll apply for your PTA license and schedule your National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). You will be able to work in North Dakota even if you went to school in another state.

Becoming a Licensed PTA in North Dakota

After you’ve scheduled your NPTE, you’ll have to pay the licensing fee of $200 and the exam fee of $400, so make sure you are fully prepared to pass the exam. You’ll be required to show copies of your school records as proof of your degree. The exam includes topics such as interventions, diseases/conditions that impact effective treatment, and equipment. This test has 200 questions, and you are allowed four hours to complete it. PTAs are required to pass with a score of at least 600. Make sure you choose a school that promises to prepare you for the exam.

Learning About Physical Therapist Assistance in North Dakota

Because there are no accredited PTA schools in North Dakota, you’ll want to research schools in Minnesota with accredited programs. Some of these schools are in St. Paul, Minneapolis and Bloomington. The PTA programs require you to have 40 hours of work or volunteer experience in a PT setting or 40 hours of observation by a qualified person. You must be certified in CPR, and you’ll need a clean bill of health to begin.

These schools in Minnesota are open to North Dakota residents who want to become physical therapist assistants:

  • Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Cambridge and Coon Rapids, MN. This school has a dedicated program for physical therapist assistants. It is an accredited institution with two campus locations. The department is staffed by licensed physical therapists, and students learn medical terminology, anatomy and advanced techniques. Students also learn at three different healthcare facilities, gaining hands-on experience. In 2016, Anoka-Ramsey had a graduation rate of 90.6 percent. However, the most recent data from 2018 shows a significantly lower graduation rate at 66 percent. The good news is that of the students who completed the program, 100 percent now work as PTAs.
  • St. Catherine University, St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN. Before enrolling in St. Catherine’s PTA program, students are required to take prerequisite courses in liberal arts and sciences before pursuing a degree. The PTA program is designed to teach students through courses like healthcare ethics and musculoskeletal anatomy and measurement techniques. They offer a variety of start dates in the spring, summer or fall. Their graduation rate has a three-year average of 82.8 percent. Of those students, 100 percent were employed as PTAs within 12 months of graduating.

Salaries and Career Overview for PTAs in North Dakota

North Dakota has a booming job growth rate with an expected increase of 27.3 percent by 2026, according to the Projections Managing Partnership. The increase is big for a state with a relatively low population. There will be approximately 20 new PTA positions each year, mostly in the more densely populated areas of the state, like Minot.

The average annual salary for physical therapist assistants in North Dakota is $46,540. This puts the state near the top for PTA wages. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that the average hourly wage was $33.29 in 2017. Experienced PTAs can earn as much as $61,000 per year.

Working as a Physical Therapist Assistant in North Dakota

Although schooling and a clinical practicum will need to be completed in Minnesota or elsewhere out of state, North Dakota has plenty of jobs for PTAs. Many physical therapist assistants work in places like rehab facilities and hospitals. Centra Healthcare Solutions in Minot is a major employer for PTAs. There are also facilities in Bismarck and Fargo that have an ongoing need for those in this profession.

If you’re thinking of providing care to patients as a physical therapist assistant, North Dakota is rife with opportunity.

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

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist assistants in the state of North Dakota made an average of $46,830 per year in 2019. Entry-level physical therapist assistants earned around $23,490 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $64,360.