A growing population of aging residents in need of more therapeutic and rehabilitative interventions to address injuries common among the elderly has been a key factor in driving the demand for physical therapy services in New York. This has been felt in both inpatient hospital rehab centers and the many outpatient clinics located throughout the state. Still, this is just one of a number of factors contributing to a growing demand for physical therapy, and by extension spurring job growth for licensed PTAs in the state.
There has always been a steady demand for therapeutic interventions through orthopedic and sports medicine clinics as well as for injury rehab therapy through inpatient facilities, but now healthcare practitioners are referring more nonconventional patients for physical therapy. Primary healthcare providers increasingly appreciate the role of physical therapy in helping patients with a range of debilitating conditions improve mobility, and have also been referring more post-op patients for rehabilitative therapy.
As a result of this growing demand, the number of physical therapist assistants in New York State is expected to increase by 30.7% between 2012 and 2022 according to the state’s Department of Labor. This is expected to create an average of 190 new jobs each year for licensed PTAs in the state.
New York’s physical therapist assistants are found working in the state’s many general hospitals, rehab centers, nursing homes, universities, outpatient clinics and community health centers, among many other settings. New York City is home to three of the nation’s top hospitals according to an assessment performed by CBS News in 2015, all of which house state-of-the-art inpatient rehab centers known to employ some of the best therapists in the business:
- New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell – 7th
- NYU Langone Medical Center – 11th
- Mount Sinai Medical Center – 17th
Steps to Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in New York
Becoming a physical therapist assistant in New York starts by qualifying for a PTA license through the NYSED Office of the Professions Physical Therapy Division.
Follow the step-by-step instructions in this simple guide to learn how to become a licensed physical therapist assistant in New York:
Step 1. Earn a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate’s Degree
Your first step to becoming a licensed PTA in New York is to enroll in a PTA associate’s degree program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)) and approved by the New York State Education Department.
CAPTE-accredited associate’s degrees in New York are structured as:
- Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
- Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Science (AS)
You will find CAPTE-accredited physical therapist assistant schools with campus locations in thirteen cities throughout New York:
- Long Island City
- Garden City
Admission into PTA programs can be selective. You are more likely to be selected if you have good grades in science and math, and several schools require that you log 10 to 15 hours of clinical observation with a state-licensed physical therapist in order to be considered for the program.
Your program will combine theory, laboratory and clinical education experiences. While course titles may vary a bit from one program to the next, typical courses include:
- Introduction to Rehabilitation
- Clinical Procedures I – Basic Procedures
- Clinical Procedures I – Physical Agents
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Clinical Kinesiology for the PTA
- Clinical Procedures II – Data Collection
- Clinical Procedures II – Advanced Procedures
- Clinical Procedures III – Orthopedic
- Clinical Procedures III – Neurological
- Abnormal Psychology
Roughly 6 weeks of your program will be spent in a clinical practicum in one of the many participating rehab centers or outpatient clinics found throughout the state. One school requires that you apply for candidacy before you are admitted to the clinical phase of your program.
You will be required to obtain CPR certification before being allowed to study in the clinical setting. New York State’s regulations require that you have an annual health assessment. In addition, you must have a health form on file at your college and at the clinical site you will be training in before you start the clinical component of your education.
These are just a few of the many locations in New York where your clinical training may take place:
- Helen Hayes Rehabilitation Hospital – West Haverstraw (Hudson Valley)
- Burke Rehabilitation Hospital – New York City
- NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation Center – Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn
- Joseph’s Hospital – Elmira
- Phelp’s Memorial Hospital Center – Sleepy Hollow
- Montefiore Medical Center – Bronx
Step 2. Submit an Application for PTA Licensure in New York by Examination
Now that you have your associate’s degree in physical therapist assisting, you can initiate the state licensing process through the NYSED Office of the Professions Physical Therapy Division.
Applying for PTA licensure in New York starts with downloading Form 1—the Application for Licensure. You must be of good moral character and at least 18 years old to apply. Send your notarized application along with a check or money order for the $103 licensing fee made out to the NYS Education Department to:
NYS Education Department Office of the Professions
Division of Professional Licensing Services
P.O. Box 22063
Albany, NY 12201
You will also need to contact your school’s Registrar’s Office to have them forward a Certification of Professional Education—Form 2. This form verifies that you have completed all of the requirements for your degree. You must complete Section I of the form making sure to sign and date item 8 and then send it to your school along with Section II. Your school will fill out the second section and then mail it to:
State Education Department
Office of the Professions
Division of Professional Licensing Services
Physical Therapy Unit
89 Washington Ave.
Albany, NY 12234-1000
As your application is being processed for approval, you will register online for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs offered through the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) directly through the FSBPT. This will involve paying the $400 examination fee by credit card.
You have the option of practicing for 90 days immediately after graduation if you file for a limited permit. To be eligible to practice under the limited permit, you must have completed these steps:
- Graduated from your PTA program and asked your school to submit Form 2
- Submitted your Application for Licensure (Form 1) and licensure fee
- Submitted your Application for a Limited Permit (Form 5)
- Paid the $50 fee for a Limited Permit
- Applied to take the NPTE-PTA and paid the registration fee
Step 3. Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs
You will need to gain approval from the New York State Education Department before scheduling the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) for PTAs offered through the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). The Department will review your application for licensure to make sure that you are qualified. Once you have been approved and received authorization to test, you can then schedule a time and location to take the exam.
You will reserve a testing site through the third-party company Prometric and pay a nominal exam proctoring fee. When you schedule the exam, you will be given the option to choose from a number of testing sites located throughout New York.
You would be well advised to prepare for the 200-question, four-hour NPTE-PTA test in advance. The FSBPT provides a candidate handbook along with an online practice exam.
The exam will be comprised of the following sections:
- Safety & Protection; Professional Responsibilities; Research (6%)
- Physical Therapy Data Collection (20.7%)
- Interventions (30.7%)
- 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 the NPTE-PTA.
Step 4. Get your Career Started as a Physical Therapist Assistant in New York
Now that you have passed the NPTE-PTA, you can begin your career as a licensed physical therapist assistant in New York. With nearly 250 hospitals and a large number of nursing homes, schools, community health programs and countless outpatient clinics specializing in sports medicine, physical therapy and orthopedics in the state, you have a near-endless number of options to choose from when it comes to looking for a PTA job in New York.
In a survey of job vacancy announcements for licensed physical therapist assistants throughout New York conducted in November 2015, the following were among the many facilities looking to hire (While PTAs are in high demand, this list is for illustrative purposes only and is not meant to imply a guarantee of employment):
- Mark’s World – New York City
- Safire Care – Tonawanda
- Rehab Resources – New Berlin
- We Step Ahead PT – Brooklyn
- Heritage/HealthPRO – Riverdale
- MakroHealth – New York City
- Carerite Centers – New York City
- Back to Health Physical Therapy – Brooklyn
- Preferred Therapy Solutions – Bronx
- Theradynamics – New York City
You also have the option of working in the independent private practice of a licensed physical therapist.
In accordance with New York State law, you must wear an ID badge while working if you are employed in a hospital, group practice, clinic, or multi-professional facility. This badge must display your name and professional title.
Step 5. Re-register your Physical Therapist Assistant License Every Three Years
Your New York State PTA license is good for life, but you must register with the NYSED Office of the Professions every three years.
The Department will mail you an application to renew your registration about four months before your registration expires. You are required to report to the Department any change in your address within 30 days of the change taking place to ensure you receive all mailed notifications. Your registration renewal will contain a PIN that will allow you to renew online.
You are required to complete 36 hours of continuing education during each three-year renewal period. You are exempt from this requirement if you are newly licensed. One continuing education unit equals 10 contact hours. The NYS Education Department provides a long list of approved providers for you to choose from.