Physical Therapist Assistant Careers for Aspiring Utah Health Professionals

If you have good interpersonal skills, like to work with your hands and have compassion for patients in pain, a career in physical therapist assistance may be right for you. Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) work under the supervision of physical therapists (PTs) to restore movement and alleviate pain in patients.

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Typical tasks of PTAs include performing exercise treatment on patients, recording patient response to treatment and educating patients on healthy lifestyles to improve their conditions. They often work in physical therapy clinics, hospitals and nursing homes as well as home healthcare settings. Most of the physical therapy care a patient receives will be from a PTA, not the physical therapist, as PTs are more responsible for coordinating and directing the course of care than performing procedures.

General Physical Therapist Assistant Requirements

To become a physical therapist assistant in Utah, you must study in a PTA program at a school accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In order to do that, you must first earn your high school degree or GED equivalent.

Other requirements to become a PTA include passing the national physical therapy exam (NPTE) and obtaining Utah state licensure to practice in the field.

Colleges Offering PTA Programs

Within Utah, there are many excellent opportunities for PTA programs, including:

  • Provo College. With locations in Provo, Layton and Murray, this school’s Physical Therapist Assistant Associate Degree Program can be completed in just 21 months. The school boasts a 100 percent employment rate for graduates and a 100 percent APTA student membership rate.
  • Salt Lake Community College. This Salt Lake City school offers a small student-to-teacher ratio with instructors who have years of physical therapy experience. E-learning opportunities and an on-site real physical therapy clinic for students to gain practical experience are available to students. The school requires a background check and proof of immunizations for all PTA applicants.

Compact Licensure and Jurisprudence Exam

Your physical therapist assistant license can be gained through the Utah Department of Commerce’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL). Utah participates in the Physical Therapy Compact, meaning that Utah PTAs can gain additional permits to practice in other compact-participating states.

Utah PTAs must complete a Utah Physical Therapist Law Examination. You can register for a temporary license at the same time as you register for the NPTE, as long as you have your scores forwarded as soon as possible.

Positive Career Outlook for Physical Therapist Assistants

With an employment increase of 55.2 percent predicted by the year 2026, Utah’s physical therapist assistant opportunities are growing at an astounding rate. There is an average of 140 job openings per year in the state, and Utah PTAs’ median income was reported at $23.84 per hour in 2017. This income is slightly higher than the national median income for physical therapist assistants that same year, $22.56, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Where to Work as a PTA in Utah

It looks like no matter where you live in Utah, there is a promising career outlook for physical therapist assistants. The highest number of these professionals worked in Salt Lake City in the year 2017, according to the BLS. Other cities with high employment levels included Ogden and Provo. The highest rates of employment per 1,000 jobs for PTAs were reported in Logan and St. George that same year. Finally, the highest median income rate was reported in St. George in 2017, at $31.69 per hour.

If you’re looking for a rewarding career in healthcare, remember that patients generally enjoy the hands-on, personal nature of physical therapy care. In your career as a physical therapist assistant, you will gain the skills to improve the lives of patients.

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

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist assistants in the state of Utah made an average of $55,130 per year in 2019. Entry-level physical therapist assistants earned around $24,510 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $78,470.

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