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How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Delaware

Delaware’s physical therapist assistants enjoy great salaries and a strong job market that not only provides opportunities for new licensees looking to secure entry-level jobs, but also supports career mobility by allowing experienced PTAs to take on more specialized roles. According to the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary among Delaware’s physical therapist assistants was $55,110 in 2014, even higher than the U.S. average of $54,410 for PTAs that year. Additionally, the top 10% of Delaware’s physical therapist assistants earned an average of $77,510 in 2014, demonstrating the earning potential that results from specialty training and certification.

As a physical therapist assistant in Delaware, you may work in hospital rehab units, private outpatient physical therapy practices, or even in patients’ homes as part of outpatient services. The Delaware Department of Labor predicts a 2.37% increase in the number of physical therapist assistant jobs in the period spanning 2012-2022, making the state a promising location to establish your career.

Steps to Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Delaware

To become a physical therapist assistant in Delaware, you must meet the licensing requirements of the Delaware Examining Board of Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers. Follow these steps to learn how to earn and maintain your Delaware PTA license:

Graduate from a CAPTE-Accredited Physical Therapist Assistant Program and Obtain CPR Certification
Submit an Application for Licensure by Examination
Pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for PTAs
Start your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Delaware
Complete Continuing Competency Hours to Renew your License

 


 

Step 1. Graduate from a CAPTE-Accredited Physical Therapist Assistant Program and Obtain CPR Certification

The Delaware Examining Board of Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers requires all applicants for PTA licensure to graduate from an associate’s degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Common degree titles include:

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

CAPTE-accredited physical therapist assistant schools in Delaware can be found in the following cities:

  • Georgetown
  • Wilmington

You can find a complete list of Delaware’s CAPTE-accredited schools on the CAPTE website.

Your program will prepare you for the unique challenges of a career as a physical therapist covering topics such as:

  • Behavioral sciences
  • Kinesiology
  • Therapeutic Exercise
  • Exercise physiology
  • Clinical pathology
  • Anatomy
  • Therapeutic Documentation for the PTA
  • Biomechanics
  • Medical Terminology
  • Gerontology
  • Professional ethics

In addition to your physical therapist assistant degree, you must earn your CPR certification from either the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, National Safety Council or another agency approved by the Board and posted on the Division of Professional Regulation’s website. The Board does not approve online CPR certification courses for physical therapist assistants. Several institutions where you may earn your CPR certification in Delaware include:

 


 

Step 2. Submit an Application for Licensure by Examination

Once you have completed your physical therapist assistant program and CPR certification, you may begin the licensure application process with the Delaware Examining Board of Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers. To start, you must print and complete the PTA license application form on the Board website.

You must include the following with your application:

  • A fee of $125 in the form of a check made payable to the State of Delaware
  • A copy of your CPR certification card (including both the front and back of your card)

All materials should be sent to the following address:

Examining Board of Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers
Cannon Building Suite 203,
861 Silver Lake Blvd.
Dover, DE 19904

In addition to completing your application, you must complete a criminal background check with the State of Delaware. To begin this process, complete the Criminal History Record Check Authorization Form, which is found on the last two pages of your application document. You must then submit the form in person, along with a $69 fee, to one of the following locations:

Kent County–Primary Facility
State Bureau of Identification
Blue Hen Mall & Corporate Center,
655 Bay Rd. Suite 1B
Dover, DE 19901

 

New Castle County–Satellite Facility
State Police Troop Two
100 LaGrange Ave
Newark, DE 19702

 

Sussex County –Satellite Facility
Delaware State Police Troop Four
South DuPont Hwy & Shortley Rd.
Georgetown DE 19947

The Kent County location accepts walk ins, while the New Castle County and Sussex County locations require appointments to be made by phone. You may schedule your appointment by calling: (800)-464-HELP (4357).

Finally, the school from which you received your PTA degree must send your official transcript to the Board. If you have graduated but have yet to receive a degree, your school may send an unofficial transcript along with a letter stating your expected date of graduation. However, your official transcript must be sent as soon as you graduate. You may not receive your physical therapist assistant license until the Board receives your official transcript.

 


 

Step 3. Pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for PTAs

Your application with the Delaware Examining Board of Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers will determine your eligibility to take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for PTAs, offered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). As you wait for approval from the Board, you must register with the FSBPT. If you receive approval, you will be notified by the FSBPT, who will send you instructions on scheduling your exam.

The NPTE-PTA is offered at the Prometric testing center in New Castle, located at:

100 W Commons Blvd #430
New Castle, DE 19720

Prometric charges a $70 testing fee.

The NPTE-PTA will cover topics you have studied in your physical therapist assistant program. Areas the exam covers include:

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

You may prepare for the exam by taking an online practice exam & assessment tool (PEAT). Additionally, you may study directly from the NPTE Candidate Handbook.

To pass the national exam, you must score the scaled equivalent of a 600 (scale ranges from 200-800).

 


 

Step 4. Start Your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Delaware

Once you have passed the NPTE-PTA and your background check, you will receive your license from the Delaware Examining Board of Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers. At that point, you may begin applying for a job as a licensed physical therapist assistant

Delaware is home to several respected physical therapy practices that rely on talented physical therapist assistants to aid in patient rehabilitation. One of the top employers of PTAs in the state is Christiana Care Health System, a company offering physical therapy services throughout Delaware both through an outpatient program and at locations in Smyrna, Wilmington, Newark, and Middletown. Christiana Care Health System’s physical therapy division provides a wide spectrum of physical therapy services including aquatic therapy and arthritis care. Other top employers of physical therapist assistants in the state include:

  • Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill in Smyrna
  • Dynamic Physical Therapy in several locations throughout the state
  • Performance Physical Therapy in Wilmington
  • Premier Physical Therapy in Middletown
  • Southern Delaware Physical Therapy in Milford
  • University of Delaware Department of Physical Therapy in Newark

 


 

Step 5. Complete Continuing Competency Hours to Renew Your License

To renew your license as a physical therapist assistant in Delaware, you must meet the Continuing Education (CE) requirements set forth by Examining Board of Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers. The Board requires all physical therapist assistants to complete at least 3 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) during every biennial license renewal period. However, during your first renewal cycle, you will be required to complete less than 3 CEUs. Your CEU requirements will depend on the date of your licensure. Following are the specific CE requirements for newly licensed physical therapist assistants:

  • Licensed in the first six months of a biennial licensing period: 2.5 CEUs
  • Licensed in the second six months of a biennial licensing period: 2 CEUs
  • Licensed in the third six months of a biennial licensing period: 1.5 CEUs
  • Licensed in final first six months of a biennial licensing period: .5 CEU

The Board defines one CEU as 10 as ten hours of an approved course.

Among your Continuing Education, you must complete .2 units of Ethics. Additionally, you must submit current proof of your CPR certification, which will count for .1 units.

You may find the complete definition of approved CEUs in Delaware in section 24 Del.C. §2607(a) of the Delaware legislature. You may submit your approval for CEUs by completing the a form on the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation website. Once completed, send your form to the following address:

Delaware Board of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training
Cannon Building Suite 203,
861 Silver Lake Blvd.
Dover, DE 19904

The Board uses a random auditing process to ensure physical therapist assistants have completed their CE requirements. If selected as part of this audit, you must submit your CE information to the Board, as described in section 24 Del.C. §2607(a) of the Delaware legislature.

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