What it takes to become a Massachusetts PTA
With a vibrant economy, wide range of rural and urban communities and a well educated population, Massachusetts present excellent employment opportunities for physical therapy assistants (PTAs). In fact, the steady growth of PTA employment opportunities in the state currently mirrors nationwide growth trends in the field of physical therapy.
Because of this, individuals seeking to enter a personally and professionally rewarding career in the healthcare sector should seriously consider becoming a licensed Massachusetts PTA.
Becoming a PTA in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, the licensure of PTAs is handled by the Board of Registration in Allied Health Professionals. The Board has the following requirements for licensure as a PTA:
- The candidate must be at least 18 years of age, and have graduated from a high school or possess an equivalency degree.
- Graduation from a school that is currently Board-approved or accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Individuals who completed their education in a foreign nation must submit proof that their school is equivalent to a CAPTE accredited institution.
- The successful Completion of the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
Completing a PTA Program
Massachusetts requires that all PTA programs obtain Board approval or be accredited by the CAPTE. This ensures that the program conforms to a high standard of professionalism and can effectively train the students in how to provide the services that will be demanded from them as practicing PTAs.
In most cases, a PTA program takes approximately two years to complete on a full-time schedule. However, many schools recognize that some of their students may currently be employed or are otherwise unable to attend traditionally scheduled classes and so offer part-time schedules.
While part-time students will take longer to complete the program, this enables employed students or those with family obligations to complete the program without being forced to abandon their current responsibilities.
In addition, a number of schools offer online classes. This enables their students to study at their own pace and in the comfort of their home. However, classes with a clinical lab component may require the student’s physical presence.
Finally, there are a number of financial aid programs available to individuals who are currently attending a PTA program.
These programs can be very useful for individuals who are unable to afford the PTA program’s tuition fees. In some cases, it can be possible to obtain enough student aid to completely defray the cost of attending a PTA program.
The NPTE is a national examination for PTA candidates that is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). The FSBPT ensures that the NPTE remains current with the modern practice of physical therapy and evaluates all aspects of the candidate’s qualifications to practice as a PTA.
While demanding, any individual who has completed an accredited PTA program should be well equipped to pass the examination.
Although Massachusetts does not currently limit the number of times an individual can repeat the NPTE, doing so will delay the licensure process, in addition to forcing the candidate to pay the registration fee each time he or she repeats the test. Because of this, anyone seeking to become a PTA should only take the NPTE when he or she feels fully prepared for the examination.
Licensure by Endorsement
The Massachusetts Board allows PTAs who are currently practicing in another state and wish to move to Massachusetts to seek licensure by endorsement. However, this requires that the individual be able to prove the following:
- Proof of graduation from an accredited PTA program.
- Proof that the candidate has passed the NPTE.
- Verification from every state where the individual has held or currently holds a PTA license.
It is important to note that Massachusetts may change the requirements for licensure by endorsement without warning. Because of this, anyone seeking licensure by endorsement should contact the Board well in advance in order to ensure that there are no unexpected delays in the endorsement process.
The Current Job Environment for PTAs
Currently, PTAs enjoy a robust and rapidly expanding job market.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has determined that by 2020, the number of PTA jobs in America will increase by at least 46 percent, resulting in over 98,000 PTA job openings.
When combined with attrition due to retirements and other factors, this makes the field of physical therapy an excellent choice for individuals who are looking for stable employment prospects.
In addition to this, Massachusetts PTAs enjoy very competitive wages. The BLS has determined that Massachusetts PTAs currently enjoy an annual median wage of over $54,000. This compares very favorably with the national median wage for PTAs, which is about $49,000.
PTAs working in Massachusetts will enjoy excellent working conditions, a high level of pay, and strong professional and personal advancement prospects.
In addition, because of the growing importance of physical therapy to the healthcare sector, PTAs are also highly valued by their coworkers, supervisors, and the patients they help care for. For these reasons, individuals seeking a rewarding career should strongly consider becoming a Massachusetts PTA.