In 2014, Alabama was home to more than 1,900 licensed physical therapist assistants, according to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Out of the entire nation, Alabama had the second highest concentration of physical therapist assistants.
The demand for physical therapist assistants in Alabama is not expected to slow down, either. In 2015, the Alabama Department of Labor listed physical therapist assistants as one of its “Hot 40” occupations, and as the number one in-demand occupation requiring an associate’s degree. In fact, between 2012 and 2022, the Department expects the number of physical therapist assistant jobs to grow by 36.6 percent, opening up an average of 125 jobs per year.
Physical therapist assistants often look for jobs in Alabama’s major hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. One of Alabama’s largest hospitals is the Jackson Hospital and Clinic in Montgomery. Jackson Hospital has partnered with Rehab Associates to offer expert physical therapy services from specialists in sports medicine, orthopedic services, workers’ compensation, industrial physical therapy, spinal issues, aquatics, and hand therapy. Its outpatient rehabilitation location, on Mulberry Street, is a 6,000-square foot facility that includes a state-of-the-art aquatic center, isokinetic strengthening machines, and other physical therapy equipment.
Steps to Earning a Physical Therapist Assistant License in Alabama
If you’re ready to begin your career as a physical therapist assistant, you’ll start by first becoming licensed with the Alabama Board of Physical Therapy.
For step-by-step instructions on how to become a physical therapist assistant in Alabama, follow this simple guide:
Step 1. Earn Your Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Degree
To complete the Board’s physical therapist assistant education requirements, you will enroll in a school that offers a two-year associate’s degree program. Your associate’s degree must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and approved by the Alabama Board of Physical Therapy.
CAPTE-accredited PTA programs are available at schools with campus locations in a number of Cities throughout Alabama, including:
You can earn a physical therapist assistant certificate, associate’s, or bachelor’s degree including, but not limited to, degrees that include:
- Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
- Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Science (AS)
Your degree program will be comprised of both courses and clinical work. Although each school is different, PTA programs generally include courses such as these:
- Medical terminology
- Physical therapy issues and trends
- Therapeutic procedures
- Functional anatomy and kinesiology
- Kinesiology lab
- Human anatomy and physiology
After completing your courses, you will move on to your clinical experience or externship. This will involve completing 630-650 hours of clinical work in a hospital, nursing home, outpatient center, or sub-acute facility like the ones shown here:
- Jackson Hospital Physical – Montgomery
- Baptist Health Therapy Center – Montgomery
- HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital – Montgomery
- Rehab Associates – East Montgomery
- Capital Hill Health Care & Rehabilitation Center – Montgomery
- Golden LivingCenter – Montgomery
Your two-year associate’s degree program will typically include 16 weeks of full-time clinical work.. After completing your coursework and clinical rotation, you will receive your physical therapist assistant degree.
Step 2. Submit Your Physical Therapist Assistant Application by Examination
Once you earn your PTA degree, you will be ready to submit your application for an Alabama license by examination. This application will serve as your application for the Alabama licensing examinations and your Alabama PTA license.
To complete this application, submit the following:
- $150.00 Application Fee
- Character References (two)
- Completed Certification of Physical Therapy Education (CPTE)
- Official Transcripts
You can mail all application materials to the Board at this address:
State of Alabama
Board of Physical Therapy
100 No. Union Street, Suite 724
Montgomery, AL 36130
If you want to avoid delays in taking your exams, you can also, at this time, register with the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) to take your Jurisprudence Examination. To register, visit the FSBPT website and pay the $50 registration fee.
Step 3. Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs
Once the Alabama Board of Physical Therapy has approved your registration, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) will email you an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter. This letter means you are approved to sit for the national exam, and will include instructions on how to register online.
This national written exam’s examination content includes:
- Physical Therapy Data Collection (20.7%)
- Diseases/Conditions that Impact Effective Treatment (28%)
- Interventions (30.7%)
- Equipment & Devices & Therapeutic Modalities (14.7%)
- Safety and Protection (6.0%)
You will need to earn a score higher than 600 in order to pass this exam. Within five days of taking the exam, FSBPT will send your score to the Alabama Board. If you want, you can request an individual score report.
Step 4. Pass the Alabama Jurisprudence Examination
Once the Board approves your application, FSBPT will also send you an “Authorization to Test” letter for the Alabama Jurisprudence Exam.
This ATT will contain instructions on scheduling your exam at a Prometric testing center. To schedule your exam, complete the following steps:
- Schedule Exam Online with Prometric
- Pay $25 Scheduling Fee
You will then be able to take this exam at any Prometric testing center. Testing centers are located in the following cities:
Other testing centers near Alabama include
- Ellisville, MS
- Columbus, GA
Once you schedule, you will be ready to take the Alabama Board of Physical Therapy Jurisprudence Exam. This is a 50-question, multiple-choice exam, which you will have one hour to take.
Examination content includes Alabama physical therapy laws and codes, such as:
- Legislative Intent
- Definition of Physical
- Therapy/Practice of Physical Therapy
- Definition of Physical Therapist, Physical Therapist Assistant, & Support Personnel
- Board Powers and Duties to Regulate Practice
- Qualifications for Licensure/Examination/Licensure by Endorsement
- Use of Titles and Lawful Practice
- Grounds for Disciplinary Action
- Disciplinary Actions: Penalties
- Rights of Consumers/Public Records
To pass, you will need to receive a scaled score of 600 or higher. Once you pass this exam, you will be issued your Alabama physical therapist assistant license, and you will be ready to start your career.
Step 5. Establishing Your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Alabama
Once you’re a licensed PTA, you will be able to start your career. Physical therapist assistants often find jobs at esteemed hospitals, nursing homes, or rehabilitation homes in Alabama, such as:
- Amedisys, Inc. – Montgomery
- Physiotherapy Associates – Montgomery
- Baptist Healthcare of Alabama – Montgomery
- Aegis Therapies – Montgomery
- HealthSouth – Montgomery
- Alacare Home Health & Hospice – Montgomery
- Gentiva Health Services, Inc. – Prattville
- Cariant Health Partners – Laverne
- Genesis Rehabilitation Services – Elmore
Otherwise, some physical therapist assistants work in independent practices with licensed physical therapists.
Step 6. Renew Your Physical Therapist Assistant License Annually
Your license will expire on October 1st each year. You will want to renew in order to avoid late fees or penalties for unlicensed practice. To renew, you will complete the following steps:
- Submit $93.00 renewal fee
- Prove completion of 10 Board-approved contact hours of continuing education
- License Renewal Form
You can send these documents to the Board at:
Alabama Board of Physical Therapy
100 North Union Street, Ste. 724
Montgomery, Alabama 36130-5040
Along with this, you will complete a 2-hour, Board-approved continuing education course concerning physical therapy jurisprudence every 5th year. This course will cover both the Practice Act and the Administrative Code.
You can carry over up to 10 excess contact hours for the next year’s requirement for continuing education units. You will want to keep your continuing education and contact hours documented for a minimum of five years, in case the Board conducts a random check.
To earn your continuing education hours, you can complete any of the following activities:
- Complete physical therapy-related academic coursework
- Participate in a related clinical residency or fellowship program
- Complete PTA specialty certification
- Publish an article in a peer-reviewed journal
- Teach a course on physical therapy
The Physical Therapy Association of Alabama is one Board-approved provider of continuing education, along with: