Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in New Jersey
Physical therapist assistants play a vital role in helping physical therapists (PTs) treat patients and provide the type of intensive care that is needed during physical therapy and rehabilitation. The kind of care that PTAs provide includes exercises to regain full range of motion for specific body parts, strengthening injured muscles and learning how to control a prosthetic limb. They also have the responsibility of tracking a patient’s progress and educating patients.
Getting Your PTA License in New Jersey
The first step to becoming a PTA is to enroll at an accredited college with a physical therapist assistant associate’s degree program. This school must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education and be approved by the New Jersey Board of Physical Therapy Examiners. Admission to these programs is very selective, and the majority of schools require that potential students have a minimum of 50 hours of experience (volunteer or paid) in a physical therapy setting.
Once you have completed a PTA degree program, you will need to pass the New Jersey Jurisprudence Assessment Module and the National Physical Therapy Examination for PTAs.
Colleges Offering PTA Programs in New Jersey
It takes two years to complete a PTA degree from most colleges. This will include both classroom time and internships. Some colleges in the state that offer PTA degree programs are:
- Rowan College Gloucester County. This two-year program is one of six selective admissions programs offered at RCGC. This means that acceptance to the program is competitive and potential students are held to a higher standard than other programs. Anyone who is interested in applying must attend an information session and turn in their application by November 1st each year.
- Essex County College. The PTA program at ECC takes two years to complete and includes both general education and core classes. Although Essex County College has an open door policy, which means all high school graduates and people with GEDs are considered for admission, you must have a clean criminal background check and drug screening before being accepted into the PTA program.
Career and Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, PTAs in New Jersey make an average of $67,990 a year in 2017, which is the highest salary for this field in the country. You could make more or less depending on where you find employment.
There are many different options for employment in New Jersey-state hospitals, physical therapy facilities and sports medicine clinics are just a few. PTAs usually have a Monday through Friday work schedule, which is just another perk for this career field.
Going to school in New Jersey to earn a PTA degree costs between $8,000 and $14,000 a year. Because New Jersey pays their PTAs the highest salary nationwide, a degree in this field is a good investment in your future. The need for PTAs in New Jersey is also predicted to rise over the next few years. According to data collected by the Projections Managing Partnership, 3,330 PTAs were working in New Jersey in 2016. PMP predicts that by 2026 that number will rise 22.5 percent to 4,080.
PTA Employment Outlook
The need for physical therapist assistants is continuing to grow, not just in New Jersey but all over the nation. As generations continue to age, many of them will be in need of some form of physical therapy in their senior years. Physical therapists and their assistants play a significant role in helping both the injured and the elderly live more comfortable, active lives.
The highest paying cities for PTAs to seek work in New Jersey are Newark, Paterson and Jersey City. The lowest paying cities are reported to be Belleville, Livingston and Teaneck.