According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the number of job openings for physical therapist assistants in the state is expected to increase by 3.9% annually in the period spanning 2014-2024. That increase would represent a total of 461 new jobs for physical therapist assistants in the state, which would equate to an average of more than 46 job openings for PTAs in the state each year.
Colorado’s physical therapist assistants bring their skills to inpatient rehabilitation centers in hospitals and nursing homes, as well as to outpatient clinics specializing in orthopedics, sports medicine and physical therapy. According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the following cities were recognized as the top locations for licensed physical therapist assistants in Colorado as of 2014:
- Denver, 501 licensed physical therapist assistants
- Pueblo, 120 licensed physical therapist assistants
- Colorado Springs, 93 licensed physical therapist assistants
Steps to Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Colorado
To become a physical therapist assistant in Colorado, you must meet the licensing requirements set forth by the Colorado State Physical Therapy Board. To do so, follow these steps:
Step 1. Graduate from a CAPTE-Accredited Physical Therapist Assistant Program
To be eligible for licensure as a physical therapist assistant in Colorado, you must successfully complete an associate’s degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
CAPTE-accredited programs are found in physical therapist assistant schools found in the following Colorado cities:
You may find a complete list of CAPTE-accredited programs in Colorado on the CAPTE website.
Accredited associate’s degree programs in Colorado are structured as:
- Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant (AAS)
- Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant (AS)
- Associate of Occupational Studies in Physical Therapist Assistant
Coursework within your physical therapist assistant program will likely cover topics that include:
- Pediatrics and Gerontology
- Electronic Health Records
- Anatomy and physiology
- Therapeutic Exercise
- Behavioral sciences
- Professional ethics
- Medical Terminology
- Therapeutic Documentation for the PTA
- Exercise physiology
- Applied neuroscience
- Clinical pathology
Step 2. Submit an Application for Examination and Licensure in Colorado
Obtaining physical therapist assistant licensure in Colorado involves receiving approval from the Colorado State Physical Therapy Board and passing the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for PTAs, offered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). Passing the exam is mandatory for all physical therapist assistant license applicants.
To begin your application process, you must print and fill out an application and affidavit of eligibility form on the Board website. To help expedite the licensing process for physical therapist assistants, the Colorado State Physical Therapy Board allows students to apply for approval to take the NPTE-PTA up to three months before receiving their degree. If you elect to apply for approval prior to your graduation date, you must complete the first attestation in Part 4 of the application.
In addition to your completed application and affidavit of eligibility form, you must submit the following to the Board:
- A $57 application fee in the form of check or money order, made payable to the State of Colorado
- A form of identification such as a U.S. driver’s license or passport
Once completed, your application and the accompanying materials must be sent to the following address:
Division of Professions and Occupations
Office of Licensing—Physical Therapy
1560 Broadway, Suite 1350
Denver, CO 80202
Along with your application, the school from which your received your physical therapist assistant degree must submit the following to the Board, either by mail or electronically:
- An official transcript that includes the date you received your physical therapist assistant degree; OR
- An unofficial transcript that includes your completed coursework, along with a completion certification form from either your school Dean, Program Director, or School Registrar that includes the date you received or will receive your physical therapist assistant degree
Several days after submitting your application, you must create a Healthcare Professional’s Profile as part of Colorado’s Health Care Professions Profiling Program (HPPP), which is mandatory for all Colorado healthcare professionals. You will not be able to receive your physical therapist assistant license until completing your profile. If you are unable to create your profile within 14 days of submitting your application, you must contact the HPPP at (303)-894-5942.
Step 3. Pass the the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for PTAs
Licensed physical therapist assistants in Colorado are required to successfully pass the NPTE-PTA by scoring the scaled equivalent to a 600 on a scale ranging from 200-800. Once you have received approval to take the exam from the Colorado State Physical Therapy Board, you may register for the exam on the FSBPT website. You must take the NPTE-PTA within 90 days of receiving your degree.
The NPTE-PTA is offered at Prometric testing centers. You must submit a $70 fee to Prometric to take the exam. Prometric testing centers in Colorado are found at the following locations:
- 5660 Greenwood Plaza Blvd #475, Greenwood Village, CO 80111
- 700 Ken Pratt Blvd, Longmont, CO 80501
Many students prepare for the NPTE-PTA by taking an online practice exam & assessment tool (PEAT) and studying directly from the NPTE Candidate Handbook. Just some of the topics on the exam may include:
- PT Data Collection
- Therapeutic Modalities
- Safety and Protection
- Professional Responsibilities
- Equipment and Devices
Step 4. Start your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Colorado
Once you have passed the NPTE-PTA and received approval from the Colorado Physical Therapy Board, the Board will notify you that you were successful in earning your license. You may check the status of your application on the Board website. You may print your license upon logging into your profile.
With your license in hand, you may begin applying to Colorado’s many respected physical therapist practices. One prominent employer of physical therapist assistants in Colorado is Children’s Hospital Colorado Therapy Care. Working with children to rehabilitate a variety of injuries, the hospital has practice locations in cities throughout the state such as Littleton, Denver, Parker, Broomfield, Aurora, and Colorado Springs.
Other top employers of physical therapist assistants in Colorado include:
- Action Potential in Colorado Springs
- Colorado Athletic Conditioning in Parker
- Colorado Physical Therapy Institute in Broomfield
- Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists in Fort Collins
- Colorado Spine Therapy LLC in Denver
- HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Colorado Springs
- Memorial Hospital Adult Outpatient Rehabilitation at New Center Point in Colorado Springs
- North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley
- Nursing & Therapy Services-Co Inc. in Colorado Springs
- Anthony Outpatient Rehabilitation in Lakewood
- Total Function Physical Therapy in Colorado Springs
- University of Colorado Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Aurora
Step 5. Complete Continuing Competency Requirements to Renew your License Every Two Years
Colorado physical therapist assistants are required to demonstrate continuing competency (CC) every two years to renew their license. The Colorado State Physical Therapy Board offers a program called Continuing Professional Development (CPD) that all licensed physical therapist assistants may participate in to renew their license. To meet the requirements of the program, you must complete the following during every two-year license period, starting from the initial date of your licensure:
- A reflective Self-Assessment Tool (RSAT)
- The development of a learning plan
- Professional Development Activities (PDA) totalling 30 points.
In addition to your biennial license renewal requirements, you must complete an Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (AKS) once every ten years.
Physical Therapist Assistants who elect not to participate in the Board’s Continuing Competency program must still complete the continuing professional competency requirements through a Colorado state agency or department in keeping with state statutes.
Complete information on your RSAT, learning plan, PDAs, and AKS may be found on the Colorado-Department of Regulatory Agencies-Physical Therapy Licensure Office website.