How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in New York

In order to properly treat patients, most physical therapists (PTs) need a physical therapist assistant (PTA). The assistants will work under the guidance of the PT doing things like documentation, education and of course helping with the actual physical therapy aspect of a patient’s rehabilitation. PTAs help patients with exercises like balance training, stretching and massage. Because of the physical elements involved with helping people perform various movements, PTAs need to be careful that everything is done by the book to prevent injury to themselves or to the people they are working with.

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Getting Your PTA License in New York

Starting a career as a PTA in New York means you have to become licensed. To qualify for the licenses, you will have to earn a physical therapist assistant associate’s degree. Make sure the college you are applying to is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education and also is approved by the New York State Education Department. This is especially important to check out if you are looking at attending for-profit, online-only schools. Admission into most PTA programs is very selective and requires good grades and observation of a physical therapist for you to be considered for any PTA degree programs in New York.

Once you have graduated, you can move on to the next step of the process of getting licensed. You will need to send in an application to the NYS Education Department Office of the Professions. They will verify that you have completed all the requirements for your degree and give you the approval to take the National Physical Therapy Examination. Unlike many states, New York will give you a limited permit that allows you to work as a PTA for 90 days while you wait for your exam date to arrive.

Colleges Offering PTA Programs in New York

Getting accepted into a PTA program in New York can be very competitive. It takes two years to complete all the courses and internships required for graduation. Two schools in New York that offer degrees in PTA are:

  • Bryant & Stratton College. This PTA program takes two years to complete and is offered at their campuses in Syracuse and Orchard Park. Before being accepted, students must pass a drug test, a background check and a child-abuse background check at the state and federal level. The last semester requires students to internship 40 hours a week under an approved physical therapist.
  • Genesee Community College. The PTA program at GCC is well known and has an employment rate of 98 percent for students who graduate from their college. They require a minimum of 20 hours of experience in a physical therapy environment before one can apply.

Career and Salary Information

Although the majority of people who want to become a PTA make that choice because they want to help people, there are some great perks to this career as well. Most PTAs have a typical Monday—through-Friday schedule, which is especially beneficial for people who have children in school. Work can be found in a variety of settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and athletic clubs.

The average annual salary for a PTA in New York is $55,260, which is on par with the national average for this field. This number can go up or down depending on what type of facility you work in. There are plenty of options available to PTAs when it comes to where they work, especially since the need for these professionals is expected to rise over the next few years. As of 2016, there were 3,230 employed physical therapist assistants in the state on New York. That number is predicted to rise 34.1 percent by 2026.

PTA Employment Outlook

With the need for PTAs rising all over the country in the next few years, this is a career path that is expected to remain stable for a long time. Even though work as a PTA can be found in most areas of New York, there are some places that pay more and some that pay less than others. The highest paying cities for PTAs to seek work in New York are Buffalo, New York City and Yonkers. The lowest paying cities are Auburn, Newburgh and Middletown.

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How much do physical therapist assistants earn in the state of New York?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist assistants in the state of New York made an average of $54,970 per year in 2019. Entry-level physical therapist assistants earned around $29,930 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $78,040.

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