Becoming a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant in West Virginia
Deciding to become licensed as a physical therapist assistant (PTA) is a commendable goal. As a PTA, you’ll be rehabilitating patients who have experienced some kind of trauma. Patients may have brain damage, or they may have undergone a painful surgery. As a PTA, you’ll be taking orders from a physical therapist (PT) while helping patients regain mobility and flexibility. Typically, a doctor or PT will instruct a PTA on treatment plans, and it would then be up to you to monitor and ensure successful recoveries.
A physical therapist assistant needs to be proficient in anatomy and physiology and must have exceptional communication skills to speak with patients and their families. Every state has its own licensing requirements that you’ll need to follow before becoming a PTA.
PTA Application Process for West Virginia
You’ll need additional education to become a physical therapist assistant, so the first thing you need to do is finish high school or get your GED. After you graduate, you will need to find the appropriate program that is approved and accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapist Education (CAPTE). These schools offer students the opportunity to graduate with an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Physical Therapist Assisting or an Associate of Science (AS) in Physical Therapist Assisting degree. Once you complete the program, you’ll submit official transcripts and pay a nonrefundable fee of $185. After the application is submitted, you can obtain a temporary license to practice until you pass the exam.
Becoming a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant
During this interim period, you’ll need to schedule your National Physical Therapist Examination (NPTE). This exam is only offered four times per year in West Virginia, and you’ll need to register at least 30 days before the exam date. The registration fee is $400, so make sure you are prepared to pass. The test has 200 questions in various subjects such as patient care and therapeutic exercise. You must pass the exam with a score of 600 or higher. If you don’t pass the first time, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) allows two retakes within 12 months of your first attempt.
PTA Schools in West Virginia
Learning everything you need to know to pass the NPTE can be nerve-wracking. Choosing the right school will determine your future ability to pass the exam. There are four accredited Physical Therapist Assistant schools in West Virginia, found in Martinsburg, Huntington, Beaver and Clarksburg. As a student, you’ll take classes in kinesiology, neurology and more. All students will take part in clinical internships at the partner locations of these schools.
There are four CAPTE-accredited schools in West Virginia for future PTAs. Here are two popular options:
- Blue Ridge Community and Technical College, Martinsburg. This school offers an AAS for PTAs, and they require students to take a full year of prerequisite courses before enrolling in the program. Students must have a grade of C or higher in all the prerequisite classes before applying for the program, which starts March 1st every year. Blue Ridge provides students with a total of four clinical, hands-on experiences before graduating to ensure each student is well rounded and well prepared.
- Mountwest Community and Technical College, Huntington. To become a physical therapist assistant at Mountwest, students are required to complete 75 hours of training before graduating with an AAS. The second year of the program focuses on a comprehensive curriculum in spinal cord rehabilitation. Their program outcomes include enhancing the availability of PTAs in West Virginia and meeting or exceeding all standards and criteria defined by the West Virginia Department of Education.
Physical Therapist Assistant Career Outlook and Salaries Overview
The career outlook for PTAs in West Virginia is very promising. In terms of job growth, the Projections Managing Partnership forecasts a 28.6 percent increase through 2026. This means there will be about 130 new job openings for PTAs over the next seven years.
West Virginia lands in the middle nationwide when it comes to salaries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that the typical annual pay for a PTA in West Virginia was $48,250 in 2017. Some high earning PTAs made as much as $64,910 that same year. The average hourly wage holds steady at $23.20.
Working as a PTA in West Virginia
You can begin working as a physical therapist assistant as soon as one week after passing the NPTE. West Virginia boasts a variety of workplace environments to choose from, such as hospitals, private practices, schools or sports medicine clinics. The demand for PTAs is especially high in Martinsburg, Fayetteville and Charleston, West Virginia.
With a steady job growth for PTAs in West Virginia, the state is filled with companies who need specialists in their field.
How much do physical therapist assistants earn in the state of West Virginia?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist assistants in the state of West Virginia made an average of $53,410 per year in 2019. Entry-level physical therapist assistants earned around $39,520 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $70,920.