How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Michigan

Physical therapist assistants made the Michigan HOT 50 Jobs list published by the state’s Department of Technology, Management & Budget. This designation is reserved only for high-demand, high-wage jobs in the state.

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While nearly 3,700 physical therapist assistants were licensed to legally practice in Michigan as of 2014, this number is expected to increase by 26.1% between 2012 and 2022. This strong level of growth is expected to open up 137 jobs on average each year during this ten-year period.

As of 2014, Michigan had the fourth highest concentration of physical therapist assistants in the country according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Bay City, specifically, had the 10th highest concentration of PTA jobs of any metropolitan area in the nation that year.

Steps to Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Michigan

To launch your career as a physical therapist assistant in Michigan, you’ll need to start by qualifying for a license through the Michigan Board of Physical Therapy.

Follow the step-by-step instructions in this simple guide to learn how to become a physical therapist assistant in Michigan:

Complete a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate’s Degree Program
Submit an Application for Licensure by Examination and Pass the Michigan Jurisprudence Exam
Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs
Begin your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Michigan
Renew your Physical Therapist Assistant License Every Two Years



Step 1. Complete a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate’s Degree Program

Your first step toward earning a PTA license in Michigan is to enroll in a school that offers an associate’s degree in physical therapist assisting. You must select from schools that have received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and that have been approved by the Michigan Board of Physical Therapy. You can find Michigan Board-approved and accredited schools here.

You can find such CAPTE-accredited physical therapist assistant schools in 13 cities across Michigan:

  • Ann Arbor
  • Flint
  • Allen Park
  • Auburn Hills
  • Muskegon
  • University Center
  • Hancock
  • Dearborn
  • Battle Creak
  • Clinton Township
  • Pleasant
  • Fenton
  • Novi

Your degree options in Michigan include:

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

Your education will involve a combination of classroom-based study along with clinical rotations. While the particular courses you take will vary depending on which school you enroll in, typical courses include:

  • Introduction to Electronic Health Records
  • Clinical Pathology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Therapeutic Documentation for the PTA
  • Therapeutic Exercise
  • Functional Mobility
  • Acute and Long-Term Care
  • Neurological Foundations of Motor Control for the PTA
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Clinical Kinesiology

Your clinical rotations are a vital part of mastering the skills that will make you a successful PTA. You will have to undergo a background check before starting the clinical portion of your studies in order to fulfill Michigan’s legal requirements.

You can expect to spend about 560 hours learning from physical therapists in a variety of settings such as outpatient centers, nursing homes, and hospitals. You may be assigned to train in facilities located in both urban and high-needs rural areas to gain the widest breadth of experience. The following facilities support clinical training in Michigan:

  • Henry Ford Hospital – Detroit
  • Mary Mercy Hospital – Livonia
  • McLaren Northern Michigan – Petoskey
  • William Beaumont Hospital – Detroit
  • Mercy Memorial Hospital System – Monroe
  • Maple Lawn Medical Care Facility – Coldwater



Step 2. Submit an Application for Licensure by Examination and Pass the Michigan Jurisprudence Exam

Your Licensure Application Form will also serve as your application for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs, which you must pass in order to practice as a physical therapist assistant in Michigan.

Part of the application packet includes a jurisprudence exam that you must take and send in with your application. You will have to correctly answer 19 of the 25 questions on this exam in order to pass.

You must also arrange for an official transcript of your coursework to be forwarded to the Board directly from your school. It must have the official seal of your school and show your degree and the date it was conferred.

Submit your application and jurisprudence exam along with a check or money order for $135 made out to the State of Michigan to this address:

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Bureau of Health Care Services
Board of Physical Therapy
PO Box 30670
Lansing MI 48909

Within about three weeks, you should receive your Application Confirmation letter that containers your customer ID. This customer ID number will be required to undergo the fingerprinting process used for the required criminal background check.



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

You must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs to become a licensed PTA in Michigan. Your first step will be to schedule the exam online at the website of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT), the organization that develops the exam. When you register, you must pay the $400 exam fee by credit or debit card.

Once the Board has reviewed your application and found you eligible to take the test, they will notify the FSBPT, which will then send you an Authorization to Test. You can then schedule to take the exam at a Prometric testing location. Prometric test sites are located in these cities:

  • Grand Rapids
  • Lansing
  • Sault Ste Marie
  • Troy
  • Ann Arbor
  • Livonia

It well help you greatly if you prepare for the exam in advance. The FSBPT provides a candidate handbook and offers an online computerized practice exam.

The 200-question, four-hour exam covers these topics:

  • Safety & Protection; Professional Responsibilities; Research (6%)
  • Interventions (30.7%)
  • Physical Therapy Data Collection (20.7%)
  • Diseases/Conditions that Impact Effective Treatment (28%)
  • Equipment & Devices; Therapeutic Modalities (14.7%)

You need to obtain a score of at least 600 to pass this exam. You will receive notification that you have passed within about three weeks.



Step 4. Begin your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Michigan

Physical therapist assistants in Michigan have an array of employment options ranging from hospitals and home health agencies to sports medicine clinics and nursing homes. Michigan is home to the 17th best hospital in the country as rated by U.S. News and World Reports.

University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers was one of the country’s pioneers in developing a Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and is recognized as a national leader in this field.

Now that you are a licensed PTA, you can start your career in Michigan. You will find a number of options for employment in Michigan’s 175 hospitals, outpatient clinics, and nursing homes.

A number of facilities in Michigan offered jobs for PTAs during October 2015 (This list is for informational purposes only and does not guarantee that these facilities are currently hiring PTAs):

  • Omega Rehab Services – Dearborn
  • PT Solutions – Kalamazoo
  • Borgess Gardens – Kalamazoo
  • TheraMatrix, Inc. – Pontiac
  • Advantage Living Therapy – Detroit
  • Advanced Rehabilitation – Farmington Hills
  • Peter Medical Center – Dearborn
  • HCR ManorCare – West Bloomfield Township
  • Encore Rehabilitation Services – Detroit
  • Select Specialty Hospital – Grosse Pointe
  • Oakland Physical Therapy, P.C. – Novi
  • Athletico Physical Therapy – Hillsdale

An additional option is to join the independent practice of a Michigan-licensed physical therapist.



Step 5. Renew your Physical Therapist Assistant License Every Two Years

Your first license will be good until July 31 the year following its issuance, at which point you will have to renew it once every two years. The Board will send you a renewal notice about 6-8 weeks before your license expires. It will include instructions on how to renew your license online.

Michigan’s PT law does not require you to participate in continuing education in order to renew your license. You are personally responsible for maintaining your competence in the physical therapy profession, but you do not have to document how you are doing so for license maintenance purposes.

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