How to Become a Physical Therapy Assistant in Vermont

Deciding to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) is an admirable goal. A physical therapy assistant is someone who helps patients recover from sports injuries, neurological trauma or surgery. It’s their job to help their patients regain mobility. A PTA is an assistant to a physical therapist (PT), so they need to help carry out treatment plans and take direction from a PT. Some of these treatment plans include assisting patients with exercise, balance training and walking. PTAs should have patience and good communication skills. Physical therapy assistants can work in private offices or hospitals. To prepare for a career as a PTA, know that every state has its own laws and licenings requirements to practice.

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Vermont’s PTA Application Process

To become a PTA, you first have to finish high school with a diploma or get your GED. After that, you’ll need to search for a program that is accredited and approved by the state of Vermont. However, currently there are no schools in Vermont that offer any programs that meet the requirements of the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). This means that potential students must look in other states for an appropriate program. The closest programs are in New Hampshire and New York. These schools provide either an Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapy Assisting (AAS) or an Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assisting (AS) degrees. Part of the process of becoming a PTA is spending six weeks as an intern, learning how to interact with patients and receiving hands-on practice. After passing these courses, you’ll have to apply to obtain your PTA license for Vermont.

Becoming a Licensed Physical Therapy Assistant

To become licensed as a PTA, you can either pass an exam or get an endorsement. Your school has to complete a verification of education on your behalf. This form requires confirmation of clinical hours from the other states you’ve worked or trained in. The form also requires referrals from physical therapists. It costs $100 to apply. Vermont will issue a temporary license during the application process, which costs $50. After your application is accepted, you’ll schedule your National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). You’re not allowed to fail the exam more than twice. After failing twice, you arewould be required to retake some of the PTA coursework. The exam fee is $400, and there is only one test site in Vermont, located in Williston.

Where to Learn About Nursing in Vermont

You’ll need to plan on traveling to and from school if you want to enroll in a PTA program while still working in Vermont. Before graduating with your AAS or AS, some of the other classes you’ll need to pass are in rehabilitation, pre-calculus and abnormal psychology.

Not all of the assistance you will be providing is physical. As a physical therapy assistant, you’ll need to be prepared to support a patient’s mental health as well. Depending on where you live in the state, you’ll be looking for schools in New Hampshire or New York.

Here are a couple of schools available for Vermont residents trying to become PTAs:

  • River Valley Community College, Claremont, NH. Claremont is near the middle of the state of New Hampshire. This approved PTA program is a two-year course that prepares its students for the NPTE. Some of the things you can expect to learn at River Valley are standards of ethical conduct, entry-level competencies and critical thinking. On an average week, students will have classes on college composition and anatomy and physiology along with clinical lectures. Students will also spend two or three days a week practicing hands-on activities.
  • Canton State University of New York, Canton, NY. Students enrolled at Canton State will earn an AAS degree to become a physical therapy assistant. You will take courses in liberal arts, physical therapy and clinical education. To be admitted into the program, out-of-state students need a cumulative GPA of 80 with an SAT score of 1080 or higher.

Career Outlook and Salaries Overview for PTAs in Vermont

Vermont is experiencing slow job growth for physical therapy assistants. The Projections Managing Partnership predicts an 18.8 percent growth by 2026. The increase isn’t very promising since this equates to only about 20 new PTA positions opening each year.

Although the job prospects aren’t as promising, the salaries are relatively high for PTAs in Vermont. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that the average annual wage was $53,510 in 2017. Some of the highest earning PTAs made as much as $69, 090. The average hourly wage was $25.73.

Working in Vermont as a Physical Therapy Assistant

Burlington and Montpelier are the biggest cities in Vermont, but there are jobs to be found all over the state. Some of the places PTAs might work are in nursing homes, private practices or for government agencies. A couple of the biggest employers are the Albany Medical Center and the Arbors at Shelburne. Many physical therapy assistants work full time, but some can make their own hours.

If you would enjoy the flexibility of creating your work schedule and you are passionate about rehabilitating patients, becoming a PTA in Vermont is a great idea.

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

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist assistants in the state of Vermont made an average of $58,260 per year in 2019. Entry-level physical therapist assistants earned around $45,930 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $71,560.