How to Become a Personal Therapist Assistant in Oklahoma
If you have ever thought you would like working as a physical therapist but didn’t have the time or money for a four-year degree, consider becoming a physical therapist assistant (PTA). These professionals work under the direction of physical therapists and do much of the same work.
PTAs work directly with patients, helping them do exercises to heal from surgery or injury and regain mobility. They follow guidelines and treatment plans set by licensed therapists. To become a PTA in Oklahoma, where the career is taking off and qualified workers are in big demand, you need to be licensed.
What You Need to Be a PTA in Oklahoma
There are several steps you’ll need to take in order to be ready to qualify for licensure as a PTA in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision sets the requirements and has more information on its website, including forms and applications.
After graduating from high school or earning a GED, you must complete a PTA program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Other licensing requirements include passing the National Physical Therapy Assistants Exam (NPTAE) and an extended background check.
Accredited PTA Programs in Oklahoma
The first step in becoming a licensed PTA in the state is to enroll in an accredited post-secondary program. Admissions can be selective, so be sure you understand all the requirements and are able to meet them before applying.
- Oklahoma City Community College, Oklahoma City. Oklahoma students can earn an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Physical Therapist Assisting here. It takes six semesters to complete the 72-credit hour program. In addition to general education courses and physical therapy courses, students must complete a clinical rotation.
- Tulsa Community College, Tulsa. The associate’s degree program in physical therapist assisting at Tulsa is available at the Metro campus. The program can be completed in just five semesters. Graduation requirements include earning at least a C in each course. The school maintains a stand-by list for program applicants if you are not immediately accepted.
- Indian Capital Technology Center, Muskogee. Students in and around Muskogee can attend the accredited PTA program at Indian Capital. Only 16 students are accepted into this program each year. Five semesters of courses culminate in an Associate of Applied Science degree.
Physical Therapist Assistant Licensing
Completing an accredited program in PTA is the first step in becoming licensed to work in this field in Oklahoma. The next steps are to meet the remaining requirements for the application, including getting a passing score on the national exam. All graduates of accredited programs should be prepared to pass it. You will also need to undergo an extended background check. You can then submit the application with the $135 fee.
PTAs are required to renew their licenses by completing 30 hours of continuing education credits every two years. The Board lists several options for approved classes and experiences that count toward those hours. The renewal fee for PTAs is $60.
Salary and Career Outlook for PTAs in Oklahoma
The salary for PTAs in Oklahoma varies depending on location and employer, but in 2017 the annual average was $61,350. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average PTA salary is $46,920, so Oklahoma PTAs are earning very competitive salaries. With more experience and leadership roles, you can earn more than the average. Top earners in the state make $80,000 and more per year.
The demand is also high in Oklahoma for qualified PTAs. You can expect to find many great job opportunities. Growth in the number of jobs available is ongoing at a strong rate of more than 20 percent.
Finding Work as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Oklahoma
As a PTA in Oklahoma, you shouldn’t find it difficult to land a job, but most positions will be available in the larger population centers of Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman and Lawton. Look for jobs in hospitals, physical therapy practices, nursing homes, and with home healthcare companies that offer physical therapy in patients’ homes.