How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in California – CA
California is a great state to pursue a career as a physical therapist assistant (PTA). In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it is the highest paying state in the profession, with an average annual salary of $55,730, which is almost $10,000 more than the average pay for physical therapist assistants across the United States. California is also home to the top paying metropolitan area in the country – Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura. Job opportunities are abundant for physical therapy assistants in California and should continue to be, as the BLS estimates a growth rate of 35% by 2018. Currently there are almost 4,000 physical therapy assistants in the state of California.
Steps to Become a Physical Therapy Assistant in California
All physical therapists and physical therapist assistants must obtain a license from the Physical Therapy Board of California. Licenses are available by examination or endorsement. To obtain the license one must go through California physical therapy assistant training first.
Potential physical therapy assistants in California must graduate from an accredited PTA education program. Upon graduation, they will be required to take and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination or Physical Therapist Assistant Examination. In addition, the California Law Examination, which is a one-hour multiple choice exam administered by the state, must be passed.
Before applying to the Physical Therapy Board of California for a license to practice as a PTA, you must have in your possession a completed Certificate of Completion Form (P1E). This form must remain in a sealed envelope and be submitted with the application for licensure. Completed applications should include the following:
- Application free of $125
- Fingerprint processing fee of $51
- Certificate of Completion Form in sealed envelope
- Completed Agency Copy of Live San Form or a completed PTBC Fingerprint Card
The application processing time in California is around 30 days.
California Physical Therapy Continuing Education Requirements
Continuing education requirements for California physical therapy assistants became mandatory in November 2009. All physical therapist and physical therapist assistants are issued a two-year license. Renewal applications will be sent to PTAs approximately 90 days before the expiration of the license. In order to renew a PTA license, 30 hours of continuing education must be completed biennially. Two hours in ethics, laws and regulations are required as well as four hours in life support for health professionals.
If you are new to the physical therapy field in California or recently obtained your PTA license in California, contact the Physical Therapy Board of California to determine what specific continuing education requirements you must meet.