New Jersey’s Physical therapist assistants are among the best paid in the nation. In fact, PTAs in New Jersey earned the third highest average salary in the country for this profession according to a 2014 salary survey conducted by the US Department of Labor. By earning an associate’s degree and qualifying for a PTA license, New Jersey’s physical therapist assistants can look forward to an average salary of over $61,000. In addition to earning top salaries, physical therapist assistants in New Jersey also enjoy a very favorable job market in a high-demand industry that is set to expand.
Even with more than 1,220 licensed physical therapist assistants practicing in New Jersey as of 2014, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development expects the number of PTA jobs to increase by 34.1% between 2012 and 2022 just to keep up with the growing demand or rehabilitative and therapeutic services in the state. This level of growth should result in an average of 60 annual job openings for physical therapist assistants in New Jersey during this ten-year period.
Physical therapist assistants in New Jersey have a number of options for employments in the state’s hospitals, geriatric, pediatric, and private practice physical therapy facilities, orthopedist offices and sports medicine clinics. With the demand for physical therapy services increasing, physical rehabilitation facilities in the state have been expanding. For example, JAG Physical Therapy founded by noted PT John Galluci, Jr. opened its ninth facility in New Jersey in 2015. The company specializes in outpatient orthopedic sport physical therapy and is an Official Partner of the New Jersey Devils.
Steps to Obtaining a Physical Therapist Assistant Certificate in New Jersey
Your career as a physical therapist assistant in New Jersey starts by qualifying for a certificate through the New Jersey Board of Physical Therapy Examiners.
Follow the step-by-step instructions in this simple guide to learn how to become a physical therapist assistant in New Jersey:
Step 1. Complete a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Associate’s Degree Program
Your first step to becoming a licensed PTA in New Jersey is to enroll in a school that has received accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and that has been approved by the New Jersey Board of Physical Therapy Examiners.
CAPTE-accredited and Board-approved PTA programs in New Jersey are structured as two-year associate’s degree programs (Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant ). You can choose from CAPTE-accredited schools with campus locations in these cities:
Admission can be selective, with some schools requiring applicants to first complete 50 hours of volunteer or work experience in a physical therapy setting.
Your education will combine didactic courses and clinical education experiences. While the coursework varies between the colleges, typical courses include:
- Fundamentals of Physical Therapist Assisting
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Medical Terminology
- Therapeutic Interventions in Child Development and Gerontology
- Abnormal Psychology
- Therapeutic Exercise
You will spend at least 600 hours immersed in clinical training in an actual hospital rehabilitation center or outpatient clinic. You may have to undergo a background check depending on the requirements of the individual clinics you will be placed in. Some clinics also require a health clearance, CPR certification, and a drug screen.
Potential sites for your clinical training include:
- JAG Physical Therapy – various locations
- Kessler Rehabilitation Center – various locations
- Riverview Rehabilitation Center – Red Bank
- Lourdes Health System – various locations
- Atlantic Rehabilitation – Morristown
- Johnson Rehabilitation Institute – Edison
Step 2. Pass the New Jersey Jurisprudence Assessment Module (NJ JAM) and Submit an Application for Licensure by Examination
Now that you have your AAS PTA degree, you can start the process to get your license to practice in New Jersey. You will have to register for two tests offered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).
One is the New Jersey Jurisprudence Assessment Module (NJ JAM) that you will have to pass before you can get your license. You must answer 80% of the questions correctly to pass, although you can retake the exam after a 30-day waiting period. You must take this exam within 48 hours of registering for it. The fee through December 31, 2015 is $40 in addition to a 1.6% processing fee. The fee will increase to $48 as of January 1, 2016. You will also have an additional application fee from the state of New Jersey.
Once you have completed this exam, you will immediately be notified whether you passed or failed it. The FSBPT will also provide a detailed score report that will have links to the legal regulations for any questions you got wrong, so you can review the material. They will send your score directly to the Board.
You also must register for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs and pay a fee of $400 by credit card. The date that you registered to take the exam will be the date that your Application for Licensure in New Jersey will be due.
You must be at least 18 years old and of good moral character to apply for a license as a PTA in New Jersey. You will also need to send these items with your application:
Fee. You will have to send a check or money order for $125.00 made out to the State Board of Physical Therapy Examiners.
Photograph – Attach a passport-style photo to the front page of your application. Be sure to sign and print your name on the back of the photograph first.
Social Security Number – You must have a Social Security number to apply for your license. You will need to provide a copy of your Social Security card and sign the copy. Also write your Social Security number below your signature.
Official transcripts – You must provide transcripts of all of your college education in sealed envelopes. You can either attach them to your application or have your school(s) forward them directly to the Board’s office.
Notarized Affidavit – You will have to sign the Affidavit from your application in front of a notary public. You will be swearing or affirming that you have read the legal code for the practice of physical therapy in New Jersey and will abide by them:
- Chapter 39A State Board of Physical Therapy Regulations
- New Jersey Statues Annotated 45.9-37.11 et seq.
Mail your fee and application to this address:
State Board of Physical Therapy Examiners
PO Box 45014
Newark, NJ 07101
Step 3. Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs
Your next step is to take your NPTE-PTA exam. You should reserve a testing site through Prometric. The NPTE-PTA is a four-hour test with 200 questions, so you should prepare in advance. The FSBPT provides a candidate handbook for you to study ahead of time along with an online practice exam. These are the topics that will be on this exam:
- Physical Therapy Data Collection (20.7%)
- Safety & Protection; Professional Responsibilities; Research (6%)
- Diseases/Conditions that Impact Effective Treatment (28%)
- Interventions (30.7%)
- Equipment & Devices; Therapeutic Modalities (14.7%)
You need to obtain a score of at least 600 to pass the NPTE-PTA.
Step 4. Establish your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in New Jersey
Passing the exam is your final step to getting your license to practice as a PTA in New Jersey, so you now can start your career. You have a variety options in New Jersey’s outpatient clinics, nursing homes, and 100 hospitals.
The facilities shown below were hiring PTAs in New Jersey in November 2015. This list is informational only, since there is no guarantee that these companies will always be hiring:
- Aegis Therapies – Old Bridge
- Functional Pathways – Rockleigh
- Heritage/Health Pro – Allendale
- Centers Health Care – Camden
- Select Medical Rehabilitation Services, Inc. – Bayville
- Virtua Health – Moorestown
- Kessler Rehabilitation Center – Union
- Trinitas Regional Medical Center – Elizabeth
- Princeton HealthCare System – Plainsboro
You also have the option of working in the independent practice of a licensed PT.
Step 5. Renew your Physical Therapist Assistant License Every Two Years
Your license will expire on January 31 of each even-numbered year. The Board will send you a renewal notice at least 60 days before your license will expire. You will have two options for your license renewal. The first is to stay active and keep practicing. The second is to renew as inactive and cease practicing as a PTA in New Jersey.
You will have to pay a renewal fee, and if you do not renew on time, you have 30 days to renew and will be charged an additional late fee.
If you are renewing after two years, you must have taken 30 hours of continuing education within this period. Four credits must be in jurisprudence and professional ethics. You will get 1.5 of these credits from taking the mandatory New Jersey Jurisprudence Assessment Module.
If this is your first renewal and you were licensed during the second year of the renewal period, you are exempt from the continuing education requirements. If you were licensed during the first year of this period, you must complete 15 units of continuing education. You are exempt from the jurisprudence exam, but you must take a professional ethics course of at least 2.5 credits.
You will find a list of continuing education courses for each biennial period that have been approved by the Board on its Continuing Education website. You are required to keep the documentation of your continuing education for at least four years following your renewal period.
The Board will randomly audit PTAs who are renewing their licenses. If chosen, you will be sent a continuing education audit letter and will have to provide all of the documents from your continuing education within 14 days of receiving this letter.