Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Nebraska
If you’re looking for a rewarding healthcare job that gives you the opportunity to improve the lives of patients, a career as a physical therapist assistant (PTA) may be the right choice for you.
While PTAs work directly under the supervision and instruction of physical therapists (PTs), they offer care procedures such as stretching, massage and education directly to patients. Physical therapist assistants work with their supervisors to help patients regain mobility and independence after a movement condition resulting from illness or injury.
In order to be a successful PTA, you should be able to communicate well with others, have a friendly attitude and be able to work long hours on your feet.
How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Nebraska
After graduating high school or earning your GED, you must complete two years of education in physical therapy to become a PTA. An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in physical therapy assistance is generally required to gain your licensure.
After you graduate from training, the state of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services requires you to pass two exams: the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) and the Nebraska Jurisprudence Exam.
Schools That Offer Physical Therapist Assistant Programs
While there are many educational options for PTAs in Nebraska, here are two popular schools:
- Southeast Community College (SCC). The classroom portion of this PTA program takes place on SCC’s Lincoln campus, while the clinical portion can be completed at college-approved, on-site education locations. Thirty physical therapist observation hours are required for all applicants.
- Clarkson College. Students at this Omaha school complete a 24-month program (two years) to receive their AAS in physical therapy assistance. Fifteen weeks of clinical rotations are also performed for hands-on training and workforce readiness upon graduation.
Pending Physical Therapy Compact Participation
Nebraska currently has pending legislation to join the Physical Therapy Compact, which allows PTs and PTAs to legally practice in other participating states without holding a license from those states. Once Nebraska becomes a full member of the program, Compact licensees will be able to practice in Iowa and Missouri. Nearby Colorado also has currently pending Compact legislation.
Job Statistics for PTAs in Nebraska
The future looks excellent for physical therapist assistants in Nebraska, with a 34.6 percent increase in employment predicted by the year 2026. Once Nebraska becomes part of the Physical Therapy Compact, even more employment opportunities will be available.
Nebraska PTAs are paid a median income of $22.41 per hour, based on statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s right on track with the median income for PTAs across the rest of the country, which is $22.56 per hour.
Your Future as a PTA in Nebraska
The Omaha area employed the highest number of PTAs in 2017, according to the BLS. Other areas of high employment were Lincoln and the Central Nebraska nonmetropolitan area. The highest employment per 1,000 jobs, however, was in Grand Island that same year. Physical therapist assistants were paid the most in the Southeast Nebraska nonmetropolitan area, with a median of $24.48 per hour in 2017.
With robust employment levels and a high pay rate with just two years of college education, a career in physical therapy assistance could be the perfect field for those interested in healthcare. Many PTAs choose to continue their education with bachelor’s degrees in athletic training or doctorate degrees in physical therapy.