Like most states, New Hampshire has a rapidly expanding healthcare sector. With a growing number of elderly, an increased emphasis on high-quality treatment and the rising number of outpatient services, the state’s healthcare sector is showing dramatic growth in terms of the number of job openings available to new and continuing workers alike.
This is especially true in the field of physical therapy. The rising emphasis on physical therapy for rehabilitation and preventative health maintenance has created a robust and growing demand for qualified physical therapists and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) in New Hampshire.
The Job Demand for Physical Therapist Assistants
Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there are nearly 70,000 PTAs currently employed in the United States. As of May 2012, there were nearly 400 PTAs working in the state of New Hampshire. In addition, the BLS estimates that the rate of growth for PTA jobs between 2012 and 2022 will be at least 41 percent. This is a rate far beyond the average rate of job creation in the United States, making it certain that new PTAs will continue to enjoy extremely promising career opportunities in this field.
The Pay Level for PTAs
The annual median wage for PTAs is $52,160, with the top 10 percent of PTAs earning an annual salary of at least $72,000. When combined with the benefits most PTAs enjoy, this represents a very competitive wage. The median annual wage for New Hampshire PTAs is about $49,000. When the average cost of living for New Hampshire is taken into account, this wage is roughly equivalent to the median wage for PTAs across the United States.
PTAs who are experienced or who have obtained certification in one or more specialties can usually earn more than the median wage. In addition, some subfields are compensated at a rate greater than the average for all PTAs.
Becoming a PTA in New Hampshire
All PTAs in New Hampshire must be licensed by the New Hampshire Physical Therapy Governing Board. In order to obtain a valid license, the candidate must complete the following steps:
- Complete an accredited PTA program.
- Successfully complete the National Physical Therapist Examination (NPTE). This program may also be referred to as the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination (NPTAE) in some documents.
- Complete all other requirements put forth by the Board, including a background check to demonstrate the candidate’s suitability to become a PTA.
In New Hampshire, PTA programs are offered by community colleges and vocational training institutions. In most cases, these programs can be completed in about two years, assuming a full-time schedule on the part of the student. PTA programs include both academic and practical instruction in physical therapy. These programs are designed to prepare the student to carry out all the duties of a PTA, no matter where he or she is eventually employed.
For those students who cannot attend school on a full-time basis, many programs have a part-time schedule option. This can allow a student who is currently working or who has family obligations to complete the coursework at his or her own pace. For other students, online and distance-learning programs offer the option of completing the course work from home, which can be especially useful for students who have limited mobility. However, some courses, especially those involving a lab component, may require that all students be physically present during class sessions.
Finally, all PTA programs must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). CAPTE accreditation shows that the program conforms to the highest instructional standards in the field of physical therapy. Students who have attended foreign programs must provide proof that their school provided a level of instruction substantially equivalent to that offered by a CAPTE accredited school.
The NPTE is a comprehensive test designed to evaluate the candidate’s qualifications to become a practicing PTA. The NPTE is regularly updated in order to ensure that it continues to reflect the current state of physical therapy in the United States.
It is important to note that failing the NPTE will require that the candidate retake the examination, and this will substantially delay the licensure process. In addition, while New Hampshire does not limit the number of times a candidate may retake the NPTE, many other states place a limit on how many attempts may be made to pass the NPTE.
In many cases, failing to pass the test within the allowed number of attempts may permanently bar the candidate from ever being licensed in that state, even if he or she currently holds a New Hampshire license. For this reason, anyone planning on becoming a New Hampshire PTA should only take the test when he or she is confident of passing it.
New Hampshire also mandates that all candidates submit to an extensive background check. For this reason, anyone who has been convicted of a crime or breach of professional ethics in the past should contact the Board before seeking a New Hampshire license in order to determine if the offense make the candidate ineligible to become a PTA in the state. In some cases, the state may permit the candidate to seek licensure if they can demonstrate that the offense does not reflect upon their ability to provide effective care.
Ultimately, becoming a PTA in New Hampshire can be an excellent choice for individuals seeking to enter a secure and well-compensated career as a professional healthcare worker. In addition, PTAs can enjoy the personal satisfaction that comes from being part of a publically respected field that provides an important service to their fellow Americans.
PTA Schools In New Hampshire
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