How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Pennsylvania

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How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has many physical therapist assistants, and the demand for such professionals doesn’t seem to slow down.

They work in settings such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Specialized outpatient clinics
  • Rehab centers

If you want to learn more about what it takes to become a physical therapist assistant, then read on!

Earning the Physical Therapist Assistant License

A physical therapist assistant needs a license issued by the Pennsylvania State Board of Physical Therapy.

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Just like in all the other states, the Board will require individuals to earn a degree in the field first.

CAPTE-accredited schools offer the approved degrees for this profession.

The degrees include:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant (AAS)
  • Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assisting (AS)

To be accepted into these programs, it’s not unusual to be required to show or have:

  • Medical health insurance
  • Proof of current immunizations
  • CPR certification
  • A clean criminal record
  • Passing a physical examination

You may have classes such as these:

  • Professional ethics
  • Fitness and personal training
  • Biomechanics
  • Rehabilitative agents
  • Therapeutic exercise
  • Medical terminology
  • Behavioral sciences
  • Clinical pathology
  • Anatomy
  • Kinesiology
  • Gerontology
  • Exercise physiology

Regardless of the chosen program, you’ll also need to complete an internship as part f your formal education.

The internship will last between 14 and 16 weeks.

Right after graduation, you’re expected to apply for the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for physical therapist assistants.

This exam is offered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) through the exam organizer, Prometric.

There are several steps you must complete at this stage.

You’ll first register for the exam with the Board and this involves sending in a few documents:

  • Official school transcripts
  • The license fee of $30
  • The application form you filled out

The above fee must be paid to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

You can register online as well, not only through printed papers.

While you wait for a reply from the Board, you need to register with the Federation as well.

This step involves paying the $400 exam fee.

Finally, you’ll have to register and schedule the test with Prometric too, where you’ll need to pay the extra $70 fee.

This exam lasts for 4 hours, has 200 questions, and the passing score is 600.

The topics covered by the test are:

  • Therapeutic Modalities
  • Safety and Protection
  • Interventions
  • Equipment and Devices
  • PT Data Collection
  • Professional Responsibilities

To help the candidates, the Federation put together the NPTE Candidate Handbook as well as an online practice exam & assessment tool (PEAT).

Those who fail the exam will have to:

  • Resend an application
  • Pay the additional fee of $30
  • Wait 6 months until they can take the NPTE again

Employment and Salary Information for Physical Therapist Assistants in Pennsylvania

If you want to find  a job at one of the top employers in the State of Pennsylvania, apply at any of these facilities:

  • Advance Physical & Aquatic Therapy in Springfield
  • Artman Lutheran Home in Ambler
  • Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville
  • Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital in Malvern
  • Chester County Hospital in Westchester
  • Grand View Health in Sellersville
  • Highlands Hospital in Connellsville
  • Kearsley Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Philadelphia
  • ManorCare Health Services in Lancaster and Bedford
  • Penn Highlands DuBois in DuBois
  • Robbins Rehabilitation in Allentown and Bethlehem
  • Wise Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine in Grove City

In certain cities, the salary is on average higher compared to the rest of the state.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Philadelphia $59,840
Pittsburgh $55,025
Allentown $56,298
Erie $51,600
Reading $55,570
Upper Darby $59,840
Scranton $51,561
Bensalem $60,334
Lancaster $54,729
Abington $59,795

Regional Salary in Pennsylvania

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ250$59,030$28.38$74,160$45,980
Altoona, PA70$53,490$25.72$61,430$37,830
Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA60$56,650$27.24$64,710$47,860
Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA80$59,110$28.42$69,560$40,380
Erie, PA110$52,130$25.06$61,010$40,440
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA320$51,900$24.95$75,240$21,170
Johnstown, PA80$52,770$25.37$68,600$36,980
Lancaster, PA200$54,740$26.32$73,240$38,940
Lebanon, PA30$58,030$27.9$73,000$45,630
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD1,970$62,630$30.11$77,110$43,610
Pittsburgh, PA770$53,550$25.74$67,290$39,230
Reading, PA100$61,170$29.41$75,070$41,470
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA200$54,960$26.43$69,570$38,170
State College, PA50$55,260$26.57$73,660$37,850
Williamsport, PA60$57,500$27.64$68,200$45,820
York-Hanover, PA100$58,490$28.12$74,010$43,510
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Physical Therapist Assistants, OCC Code 31-2021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Additional Information for Physical Therapist Assistants in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s physical therapist assistants must renew their certification with the Board, every even-numbered year by December 31.

The Board will send the renewal forms in the mail, though this can be done online as well.

The renewal application requires a $45 fee and the completion of a minimum of 30 contact hours of continuing physical therapy education.

The Board’s website has a list of approved courses.

USA Physical Therapist Assistant Schools by State

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