Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in New Mexico
In New Mexico, career opportunities for physical therapist assistants are on the rise. This is an excellent field for those who want to complete a shorter college education, care about lessening patient pain and want to help people regain mobility after injury or illness.
All physical therapist assistants work under the supervision of a physical therapist (PT), who is responsible for the care PTAs provide. Physical therapist assistants may administer treatments to patients, educate them on post-therapy care and update PTs on patient progress.
Work environments for PTAs are usually in clinical settings for the impaired, such as physical, occupational and audiological clinics. Some also work in physicians’ offices or nursing home facilities requiring skilled care.
Complete These Steps to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant
These general requirements will lead you on the path to gaining your physical therapist assistant license:
- Graduate high school or earn your GED equivalent
- Apply to a physical therapist assistant program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)
- Pass the national physical therapy exam (NPTE)
- Apply for licensure with the State of New Mexico Physical Therapy Board
Schools Offering Quality PTA Programs
With so many options for PTA programs in New Mexico, it may be hard to choose. These are a couple of options:
- Central New Mexico Community College (CNM). With campuses in and around Albuquerque, this school offers a six-term physical therapist assistant program that prepares graduates to enter the workforce with clinical and technical experience. CNM has a selective admission process for students to enter the AAS degree program.
- San Juan College. For the convenience of students, two types of PTA classes are offered at this school: traditional daytime classes and hybrid online PTA coursework with in-class lab experiences. Both programs lead to an AAS in physical therapist assisting.
The New Mexico Physical Therapist Assistant Licensing Process
When it finally comes time apply for your physical therapist assistant license, the New Mexico Physical Therapy Board will require these steps (among others):
- Completion of the application
- A passport-sized photo attached to application
- Passing the New Mexico jurisprudence exam
- Transcripts from an accredited program of study
- Passing of the NPTE
Licenses are active for 12 months and must be renewed each year. Continuing education of 30 hours is required every two years for New Mexico PTAs.
A Glimpse Inside the Career World of New Mexico PTAs
With 420 PTAs employed in New Mexico in 2016, the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) estimates that the employment rate will grow 21.4 percent by 2026. The median income for New Mexico physical therapist assistants in 2017 was reported at $24.71 per hour by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, indicating that these professionals earn a strong income in New Mexico.
Working as a PTA Assistant in New Mexico
There are a few factors to consider before deciding where in New Mexico you’d like to work as a PTA.
In 2016, the largest number of physical therapist assistants in New Mexico were working in Albuquerque, where they made a median income of $25.85 per hour.
Other areas that paid higher wages to PTAs were Santa Fe and the North and West Central New Mexico nonmetropolitan areas. On the other hand, the highest level of physical therapist assistant employment per 1,000 jobs was reported in Las Cruces in 2017, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If you’re ever considered entering the field of physical therapy, now may be the time to start looking at your high school classes and what you need to do to get into a training program. Physical therapist assistants may choose to further their career through more education while working as a PTA in the meantime.