More than 1,200 licensed physical therapist assistants practiced in Minnesota as of 2014, and their numbers are expected to increase along with the growing demand for therapeutic and rehabilitative services in the state. In fact, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the number of PTA jobs in the state is expected to increase by 24.4% between 2012 and 2022. This rate of growth is more than three times faster than the overall average job growth rate in Minnesota and is expected to open up an average of 50 PTA jobs in the state each year.
Physical therapist assistants in Minnesota can find employment in a number of settings including hospitals, outpatient facilities like PT and sports medicine clinics, as well as skilled nursing facilities.
Steps to Obtaining a Physical Therapist Assistant License in Minnesota
Your career as a physical therapist assistant in Minnesota starts by qualifying for a license through the Minnesota State Board of Physical Therapy.
Follow the step-by-step instructions in this simple guide to learn how to become a physical therapist assistant in Minnesota:
Step 1. Earn Your Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Degree
Your first step to becoming a licensed PTA in Minnesota is to enroll in a school that has received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education and that has been approved by the Minnesota State Board of Physical Therapy. Board-approved accredited schools can be found here.
Approved physical therapist assistant schools in Minnesota offer an Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant (AAS).
You can find such CAPTE-accredited programs throughout Minnesota:
- East Grand Forks
- Coon Rapids
As an admission requirement, you may be required to document 40 hours of volunteer, observation or work experience in a PT department before applying. You may also be expected to hold current CPR certification.
Your studies will involve a combination of academic classes and clinical education. The one exception is a military-bridge program that offers 20 online credits for military personnel that were trained in PT during their service. These students have already learned the basics of clinical work during their military service and wouldn’t be required to repeat study in areas in which they’ve already demonstrated competency.
While the courses you will take will vary depending on which program you are enrolled in, typical coursework includes:
- Medical Terminology
- Musculoskeletal Anatomy & Kinesiology for the PTA
- Modalities & Massage theory and lab
- Therapeutic Exercise theory and lab
- Communication & Documentation for the PTA
- Musculoskeletal Disorders
- Neuroanatomy & Functional Rehabilitation theory and lab
Your clinical experiences will help you team with other healthcare professionals while developing confidence in patient interactions and the performance of your duties.
The following facilities support clinical training:
- Mayo Clinic – Rochester
- Regions Hospital – St. Paul
- Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – Minneapolis
- Minnesota Masonic Home – Bloomington
- University of Minnesota Physicians – various locations
Step 2. Submit Your Application for Licensure by Examination
With your PTA associate’s degree in hand, you must now pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs in order to be licensed to practice as a physical therapist assistant in Minnesota. Your application for licensure also serves as your application to take the exam.
You can either apply online or submit a hard copy Licensure Application Form by mail. You will need to fill out an Affidavit, attach a picture, and have it notarized. You will need to supply additional supporting documents as described in the PTA Instructions for New Graduate:
- Certification of Education from your school
- Two recommendation from PTs familiar with your work
You will need to pay a total of $244.75 in fees. If you apply online, you will pay by credit card. If you mail in your application, you must include a check or money order payable to the MN Board of Physical Therapy. This is the breakdown of your fees:
- Permanent Licensure Application Fee: $100.00
- Annual Licensure Fee: $60.00
- Criminal Background Check Fee: $34.75
- Exam Application Processing Fee: $50.00
If you are submitting your application through the mail, you will send it to this address:
Minnesota Board of Physical Therapy
University Park Plaza
2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 420
Minneapolis, MN 55414-3245
The Board requires that you have practiced as a PTA at least eight full weeks (320 hours) during the previous five years in order to apply for your license. The clinical work from your degree program will satisfy this requirement.
You also have the option of applying for a temporary permit at any point during the application process, which allow you to work as a PTA while waiting to take the exam. There is an additional $25 fee for this application. You can only get this permit once and it will not be renewed. The temporary permit will expire shortly after the day you take the exam.
Once the Board has processed your application, they will send you a packet of additional information for your Criminal Background Check. You must have your fingerprints taken and complete all of the required paperwork.
Step 3. Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs
The Board will notify you by email of your ability to schedule the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs as soon as your application has been approved.
Then you can schedule your exam online at the website of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT), the organization that sponsors the exam. At this time, you must pay a $400 registration fee by credit or debit card.
Your next step is to schedule your exam and select an exam location through the third-party exam service provider, Prometric. While scheduling, you’ll be required to pay a $70 exam fee. Prometric testing sites are located in these cities:
You also have the option of taking your exam in Fargo or Grand Forks if this is more convenient for you.
The NPTE-PTA is a four-hour test with 200 questions. The FSBPT provides a candidate handbook and offers an online computerized practice exam to help you prepare. The exam will include these topics:
- Equipment & Devices; Therapeutic Modalities (14.7%)
- Safety & Protection; Professional Responsibilities; Research (6%)
- Diseases/Conditions that Impact Effective Treatment (28%)
- Interventions (30.7%)
- Physical Therapy Data Collection (20.7%)
You need to obtain a score of at least 600 to pass this exam.
Step 4. Establish Yourself as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Minnesota
Minnesota is home to one of the country’s best hospitals. US News and World Reports reported that the Mayo Clinic in Rochester had more “number 1” rankings among its specialties than any other hospital in the country in 2015. This hospital offers a wide array of inpatient and outpatient rehab care services.
Minnesota offers a number of avenues for employment in its 150 hospitals, nursing homes, and outpatient clinics.
A wide variety of healthcare facilities in Minnesota offered jobs for physical therapist assistants in Minnesota during November 2015 (This list is for informational purposes only and does not guarantee that these companies are currently hiring PTAs):
- Glencoe Regional Health Services – Glencoe
- Aegis Therapies – Minneapolis, Faribault, Redwood Falls
- Orthology – Minneapolis/St. Paul
- Intrepid USA – Saint Louis Park
- Minnesota Masonic Homes – Bloomington
- UnitedHealth Group – Minneapolis
- Regions Hospital – Minneapolis
- Select Medical Rehabilitation Services – Monticello
- Lakeview Hospital – Stillwater
Another option for you is to join the independent practice of a licensed PT.
Step 5. Renew Your Physical Therapist Assistant License Yearly
You must renew your license every year before January 1. The Board will mail you a reminder about 45 days before it expires. For this reason, it is important to keep your address current.
You will have to complete at least 20 contact hours of continuing education credits during each two-year renewal period. If this is your first license, your two-year cycle will start on January 1 immediately after your license was issued.
You must report your continuing education information to the Board at renewal time. It is important that you keep the documentation of your credits in the event of a Board audit.
The requirements for your continuing education are the same as those of physical therapists in Minnesota and are listed in section 5601.2300 of the Minnesota Physical Therapy Practice Act. Types of continuing education that count for credit include courses from accredited universities or colleges or from the following organizations:
- American Physical Therapy Association
- Minnesota Physical Therapy Association
- Arthritis Foundation
- American Heart Association
Giving presentations on physical therapy topics can also count as credit if you are qualified to teach the subject.