How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in the District of Columbia

Physical therapist assistants in Washington D.C. work directly under the guidance of licensed PTs to provide rehabilitative and therapeutic assistance to patients suffering with everything from traumatic injuries to neurological disorders. As a PTA licensed through the District of Columbia Board of Physical Therapy you will have the opportunity to establish a career working in one of the several hospital inpatient rehab centers or outpatient clinics specializing in physical therapy, sports medicine and orthopedics located in the greater DC area. You may even find yourself practicing in a patient’s home to support outpatient in-home therapy programs available through area hospitals.

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As a PTA student preparing for licensure in DC, you can look forward to entering an environment with a strong job outlook and great salaries. In fact, the US Bureau for Labor Statistics predicts a 41% job growth rate for PTAs in the District during the ten-year period spanning 2012-2022. Add to that an average annual salary of $74,730 for the most experienced PTAs in the District (2014), and you have a career that not only provides great entry-level opportunities, but also great opportunities for advancement.

Steps to Becoming a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant in Washington D.C.

To become a licensed physical therapist assistant in Washington D.C., you must meet the requirements set forth by the District of Columbia Board of Physical Therapy. Follow these steps to learn how you can earn and maintain your license:

Graduate from a CAPTE-Accredited Physical Therapist Assistant Program
Submit an Application for Examination and Licensure in Washington D.C.
Pass the NPTE for PTAs and the DC Jurisprudence Exam
Start your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Washington D.C.
Complete Continuing Competency Hours to Renew your License

 


 

Step 1. Graduate from a CAPTE-Accredited Physical Therapist Assistant Program

All candidates for licensure as a physical therapist assistant in Washington D.C. must graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). There are no CAPTE-accredited programs in Washington D.C., so aspiring PTAs must attend school outside of the district before returning home to establish their careers.

Typical physical therapist assistant programs prepare students for the diverse responsibilities they will have throughout their careers. Among the topics often covered in these courses:

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

Degrees designed specifically for physical therapist assistants and that meet the requirements for PTA licensure in the District of Columbia are as follows:

  • Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant
  • Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant

 


 

Step 2. Submit an Application for Examination and Licensure in Washington D.C.

Once you have received your physical therapist assistant degree, you may begin the District of Columbia Board of Physical Therapy’s license application process. Aspiring physical therapist assistants must take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for PTAs, offered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). Your application will determine your eligibility to take the exam.

To start, you must print and complete the Physical Therapist Assistant Application on the Board website. You must include the following with your completed application:

  • A $264 fee in the form of check or money order, made payable to “D.C. Treasurer”
  • Two recent passport-like photos that clearly show your face, with your name and social security number printed on the back of each photo (your photos must be original and cannot be copies)
  • A copy of one of your government-issued IDs, such as a passport or driver’s license

Your documentation must be sent to the following address:

District of Columbia Board of Physical Therapy
DC Board of Physical Therapy. P.O. Box 37802
Washington, DC 20013

In addition to your application, you must undergo a criminal background check to receive licensure. You can schedule your background check by either calling 877-783-4187 or signing up at www.identogo.com.

Finally, the school from which you received your degree must send your official transcript to the Board before you are approved to take the NPTE for PTAs.

 


 

Step 3. Pass the NPTE for PTAs and the DC Jurisprudence Exam

As you wait for approval from the Board, you must register with the FSBPT to take the NPTE-PTA. If you receive approval, you will be notified by the FSBPT, who will send you instructions on scheduling the exam.

The NPTE is offered at the Prometric Testing Center in Washington D.C., located at:

1660 L St NW #204
Washington, DC 20036

You must pay a $400 fee to the FSBPT to take the exam. Prometric charges an additional $70 testing fee.

The NPTAE will test your knowledge on all aspects of work as a physical therapist assistant to ensure you are properly prepared for the career. Among the topics covered on the exam:

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

The FSBPT offers an online practice exam & assessment tool (PEAT) to help you prepare for the exam. Additionally, you can study directly from the NPTE Candidate Handbook.

You must score the scaled equivalent of a 600 (scale ranges from 200-800) to pass the exam.

In addition to passing the NPTE-PTA, you must also pass the Washington D.C. Jurisprudence Exam. The exam covers the laws and regulations about practicing as a physical therapist assistant in the District of Columbia. Complete details on the jurisprudence exam can be found in the regulations. You may register to take the Washington D.C. Jurisprudence Exam on the FSBPT website.

 


 

Step 4. Start your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Washington D.C.

Passing both the NPTE-PTA and the District of Columbia jurisprudence examination will allow you to obtain your physical therapist assistant license and begin working in the District. You will receive your license in the mail at the address listed on your initial application.

There are a number of respected physical therapy practices in Washington D.C., providing diverse employment opportunities for physical therapist assistants. Among the top employers of physical therapist assistants in the district are:

Hospitals

  • MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Providence Hospital
  • Sibley Memorial Hospital

Physical Therapy Practices

  • Rose Physical Therapy Group
  • Washington Wellness Physical Therapy and SportsCare, LLC
  • O.R.E. Physical Therapy
  • Sports + Spinal Physical Therapy

Nursing Homes

  • Carroll Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
  • Renaissance Skilled Nursing Facility | Sibley Memorial Hospital

 


 

Step 5. Complete Continuing Competency Hours to Renew your License

Once you have received your license, you must complete a minimum of three Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or 30 hours of continuing education credit every two years preceding your license renewal. No more than half of your education may be taken online or at home. Complete details regarding the ways you may earn your CEUs are found in the District of Columbia municipal regulations.

The Board lists approved CE classes directly on their website. To obtain access to Continuing Education Approval forms, you must already hold a physical therapist assistant license.

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