How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Texas

Not only were there more than 5,700 licensed physical therapist assistants in Texas in 2014, but the state also ranked as the highest paying location for PTAs in the nation, with an average annual salary of $69,370. Some of the highest average salaries were for PTAs in El Paso, Brownsville-Harlingen, Corpus Christi, and Dallas.

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In 2014, Texas was home to more licensed physical therapist assistants than anywhere in the nation, according to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. For instance, the Dallas-Plano-Irving area was home to 1,740 licensed physical therapist assistants, the San Antonio-New Braunfels area was home to more than 500, and for such a small area, El Paso was home to a relatively high number—230 licensed physical therapist assistants in that area alone.

In even better news, physical therapist assistants were listed as one of Texas’s fastest growing occupations between 2012 and 2022. During that time period, the Texas Workforce Commission expects the number of physical therapist assistant jobs to increase by 38 percent, which translates to more than 300 PTA job openings per year.

The US News & World Report found that in 2014, Texas was also home to the second best rehabilitation hospital in the nation – TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston. This hospital has physical therapists with expertise in various specialties, such as stroke rehabilitation, brain injury rehabilitation, spinal cord injury, amputee therapy, and more.

With some of the nation’s finest physical therapists comes a need for outstanding physical therapist assistants.

Steps to Earning a Physical Therapist Assistant License in Texas

If you’re ready to launch your career as a physical therapist assistant in Texas, you’ll start by becoming licensed with the Texas Executive Council of Physical Therapy Examiners.

For guidance on how to become a licensed physical therapist assistant in Texas, follow these simple steps:

Earn a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate’s Degree from an Accredited School
Submit the Physical Therapist Assistant Application
Pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for PTAs
Begin Your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Texas
Complete 20 Continuing Competency Units (CCUs) to Renew Your License Every Two Years

 


 

Step 1. Earn a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate’s Degree from an Accredited School

Your first step toward a Texas physical therapist assistant license is earning—at minimum—a physical therapist assistant associate’s degree. Although some schools offer a physical therapist assistant certificate or bachelor’s degree, most will offer one of two types of associate’s degrees:

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

The AAS is a professional degree, leading directly to a career in physical therapist assisting. On the other hand, the AS is an academic degree that would prepare you for further education, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field.

Your school should offer a physical therapist assistant associate’s degree that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Schools that offer CAPTE-accredited physical therapist assistant associate’s degree programs have campus locations in numerous cities throughout Texas, including:

  • San Antonio
  • El Paso
  • Amarillo
  • Austin
  • Bryan
  • Fort Sam Houston
  • Corpus Christi
  • Houston
  • Dallas
  • Laredo
  • Kilgore

CAPTE-accredited physical therapist assistant associate’s degree programs consist of in-class coursework, laboratory work, and clinical work in local hospitals, nursing homes, or rehabilitation centers.

Although each school is different, PTA courses in these programs generally include courses such as these:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Pathophysiology for the PTA
  • Introduction to Physical Therapy
  • Essentials of Data Collection
  • Functional Anatomy
  • Therapeutic Exercise
  • Management of Neurological Disorders
  • Professional Issues
  • Rehabilitation Techniques

Your clinical work will be interspersed throughout your program, allowing you to integrate the theory of the classroom with the practice of the clinic. Clinical requirements will include 14-16 weeks of full-time clinical work at local hospitals, outpatient centers, nursing homes, and sub-acute facilities, like the ones shown here:

  • Providence Memorial Hospital – El Paso
  • Methodist Hospital – San Antonio
  • El Paso Specialty Hospital – El Paso
  • Acuity Hospital of South Teas – San Antonio
  • Houston Methodist Hospital – Houston
  • Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center – Houston

After completing your final clinical rotation, you will receive your physical therapist assistant associate’s degree.

 


 

Step 2. Submit the Physical Therapist Assistant Application

Once you graduate from a physical therapist assistant associate’s degree program, you’ll be ready to apply for your PTA license by examination.

Your application will allow you to sit for the national exam, and upon passing the exam, receive your physical therapist assistant license.

To submit the full application, complete the following steps according to the Board’s application timeline:

  • Submit Physical Therapist Assistant Online Application
  • Have school send official school transcripts
  • Submit Letter of Completion (directly from your school)
  • Submit a recent 2×2 photograph
  • Register to take the national exam with FSBPT
  • Take the online, open-book jurisprudence exam
  • Submit $125.00 application fee

You can check your application status online with the Board’s Application Status Lookup page.

Although the physical therapist assistant application is an online application, you can mail any secondary materials to the Board’s address at:

EXECUTIVE COUNCIL OF PT & OT EXAMINERS
333 Guadalupe St., Ste. 2-510
Austin, TX 78701-3942

 


 

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

Once the Board has received your full application, it will notify the Federation of State Boars of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) that you are eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for PTAs.

The FSBTP will send you an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter that will include instructions on scheduling your examination with Prometric. You can schedule to take your exam at any one of the Prometric testing centers, which are located throughout Texas:

  • Abilene
  • Odessa
  • Wichita Falls
  • Lubbock
  • Waco
  • Bedford
  • Austin
  • San Antonio
  • Dallas

The NPTE-PTA is a 200-question exam, which will have questions on the following physical therapy content areas, including:

  • Physical Therapy Data Collection (20.7%)
  • Interventions (30.7%)
  • Diseases and Conditions that Impact Effective Treatment (28.0%)
  • Equipment and Devices; Therapeutic Modalities (14.7%)
  • Safety and Protection; Professional Responsibilities; Research (6%)

FSBPT will send your exam results to the Texas Board within one week of you completing your exam. If you attain a score of 600 or higher, you will have passed the exam, and the Texas Board will issue your Texas physical therapist assistant license.

 


 

Step 4. Begin Your Career as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Texas

Once the Board mails your Texas physical therapist assistant license, you are ready to apply for physical therapist assistant jobs in Texas’s top hospitals, medical centers, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and more.

Hospitals and medical centers in Texas that have strong physical therapy units include, but are not limited to:

  • Methodist Hospital – San Antonio
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society – El Paso
  • Brookdale – San Antonio
  • University Medical Center of El Paso – El Paso
  • San Antonio Home Health and Hospice – San Antonio
  • Reliant Rehabilitation – El Paso
  • Guardian Healthcare – San Antonio
  • Las Palmas Medical Center – El Paso
  • Comprehensive Chiropractic & Physical Therapy – San Antonio
  • Epic Health Services Inc. – El Paso
  • AccentCare, Inc. – San Antonio

Some physical therapist assistants choose, instead, to work in independent practices with licensed physical therapists.

 


 

Step 5. Complete 20 Continuing Competency Units (CCUs) to Renew Your License Every Two Years

To keep practicing as a licensed physical therapist assistant in Texas, you will need to renew your license every two years by the end of your birth month. You can renew online or by mail, and to do so, you will need to complete the following steps:

  • Submit your renewal application
  • Pay the $180 renewal fee
  • Submit a continuing competency activities report
  • Pass the jurisprudence exam 

If you are renewing by mail, you can send your renewal application to the Board’s address, which is:

EXECUTIVE COUNCIL OF PT & OT EXAMINERS
333 Guadalupe St., Ste. 2-510
Austin, TX 78701-3942

For your continuing competency units (CCUs), you will need to have all activities and courses approved by the Texas Physical Therapy Association (TPTA). You will need to complete at least two hours of ethics/professional responsibility courses, but after that, you can complete the remaining 18 hours with activities such as:

  • Live programs
  • Self-study programs
  • Regular in-service programs
  • Large conferences
  • College or university courses
  • College or university-sponsored CC programs
  • Publications
  • Manuscript reviews
  • Grant proposal submission
  • Teaching and presenting activities
  • First-time development of courses
  • Presentation as guest lecturer in CAPTE-accredited program

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