Requirements Of A Physical Therapy Assistant License

The obvious reasons are that licensing exists to prohibit people who are not suitably qualified from practising any form of medicine. It ensures that a high standard of service is continuously provided by physical therapy assistants and that new methods and techniques may be learned. It also encourages the therapist assistant to undertake regular and on-going education which is often required for re-licensing and usually happens every sixty months or so.

From a legal stand point a physical therapist that employs an assistant will be covered from malpractice law suits which have become common place and can cost professionals millions of dollars.

There are also benefits for a physical therapy assistant license in that on average licensed assistants get paid more and are also more likely to be employed than one who is not.

The Federation Of States Boards Of Physical Therapy

This an umbrella organisation was founded in 1986 and strives to protect the public by ensuring that physical therapy assistants are adequately trained and are competent to carry out the profession in a satisfactory manner and also to ensure that the public have access to best possible procedures and therapies available.

These boards are also there to protect the professional who are also open to abuse from both the public and professional employers. Regulation does exactly what it claims to do. It sets minimum standards which have to be met and practiced ensuring the best interests of all parties at all times.
The following is the mission statement State Board of Physical Therapy of Pennsylvania and gives one some idea of how the governments see its role.

Mission Statement:
“The State Board of Physical Therapy regulates the practice of physical therapy in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is the Board’s duty to pass upon the qualifications of applicants for licensure as physical therapists and registration as physical therapist assistants. Among its other functions, the Board issues, renews, suspends and revokes licenses and registrations.“

“Citation: Physical Therapy Practice Act, Act of October 10, 1975, P.L. 383, as amended, 63 P.S. § 1301 et seq.”

“Regulations of the State Board of Physical Therapy, 49 PA. CODE § 40.1 et seq.”

Laws And regulations

In the United States of America licensing laws differ from state to state. The U. S. Bureau for Labor statistics mentions that most states regulate physical therapy assistants buy requiring them to register and or hold a physical therapy assistant license.

Requirements for Registration and Licensing

Physical Therapy Assistant LicenseBefore a person can register they will need to have completed certain minimum schooling and other training requirements which can vary slightly from state to state. Generally speaking a candidate needs to obtain an associate degree after completing high school which takes about two years. The course, physical therapy assistant degree offered by the school or college needs to be accredited by the regulatory bodies and it is advisable that the student enquire whether or not the school is registered with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. (CAPTE). On completion of the course the prospective assistant will be required to write an exam know as (NPTE) or National Physical Therapy Examination.

An example of a course that does meet with CAPTE approval would be Associate of Science in Physical Therapy assisting which can be taken in many schools and institutions across America.

A student can expect the course to start off with a whole lot of foundational subjects relating to the human anatomy and general medicine before moving on to more physical therapy type subjects. Core classes include therapeutic exercise, orthopaedics, pathology, neurological disorders and advanced physical therapy procedures.


Ethics is most probably the founding reason for the formulation of regulatory bodies in any medical arena. Unethical practices are not uncommon in the physical therapy profession and the following are some examples of unethical behavior and related material.

It has been suggested that professionals break rules for four main reasons, namely, Stuff happens, Human error, negligence and recklessness. The worst offender is her or she who willfully and or purposefully violates a rule or standard of ethics.

Ethical decision making is something that takes time and experience and has to be regulated to a degree. The regulatory boards have over time worked out ways of accessing whether people have these abilities or not and hence the examinations and licensing procedures.

Reasons for a Physical Therapy Assistant License being Revoked

  • Sexual misconduct. Very often healthcare workers are in a situation that makes this far easier than one would think. Often times a patient is very vulnerable and easy to take advantage of. The types of practices that could constitute sexual misconduct are, kissing, touching, inappropriate touching, male female physical contact, same sex contact in an inappropriate manner, speech and many others could have sexual connotations.
  • Substance Abuse. It stands to reason the professional persons judgement could be impaired while under the influence which could result in bad decision making and poor judgement.
  • Professional discipline. It is essential that accurate and honest records are professional kept for are patients and all correspondence and billing procedures.
  • Fraud and misrepresentation. False record keeping and irregular billing procedures where private versus insurance companies are different. Billing of non-existent patients or patients who have not received all the care billed for to insurance companies.
  • Patient Abuse. There are many cases where professionals are aware that their patients are being abused but do not report them. This could be spousal abuse, child abuse or others. Physical therapy assistants as well as other professionals are obliged to report any suspected cases of abuse to the relevant authorities.
  • Medication violation. Where professionals assist patients in obtaining prescription medication for recreational use and abuse.
  • Unethical behavior. Professionals may not be discriminatory in terms of race or sexual orientation. All patients deserve equal care. Other areas of unethical behavior may be in the case of advertising or false advertising.
  • Poor documentation. Accurate and detailed reports are to be kept by medical professionals at all times and such records are to be kept in such a way as to protect and preserve them.
  • Unlicensed practice. Certain medical disciplines have to be licensed and cannot under any circumstances be practiced without physical therapy assistant license.
  • Boundary violations. This has to do with practicing in the states or areas where the licenses are valid. Geographical boundaries.

Frequently Asked Questions Asked by Candidates for NPTE

What are the steps I need to take to write the exam:

  • Obtain application forms from the relevant licensing authority
  • Register for FSBPT online
  • If you have documented a disability you can arrange for special conditions for writing your exam
  • The jurisdiction licensing authority will approve or disapprove the candidates eligibility
  • The FSBPT will send confirmation of eligibility or authorization to write
  • An appointment will be scheduled for the examination with Prometric
  • Write the exam on the predetermined dates and confirmed location.

Must I sit the exam in the jurisdiction in which I am seeking licensure:

  • You may sit the exam at any of the over 300 testing centers

May I register to license with more than one jurisdiction at the same time:

  • You may only register in one jurisdiction at a time

What are costs involved with registration for the exam:

  • The licensure fees vary from state to state but as of January the 1st 2010 the NPTE is three hundred and seventy USD.

What is Prometric:

  • Prometric is the name of the company that provides computer based testing for NPTE.

When can I take my examination:

  • Examinations are scheduled with the candidate and can be arranged at any time.

What information must I provide when applying to take my Prometric exam:

  • Name of the examination (Physical Therapist, Physical Therapist Assistant, Jurisprundence Exam)
  • Where and when the candidate would prefer the exam to take place
  • The full names of the candidate
  • Social security number or other identification number
  • Contactable daytime telephone number
  • Means of payment

What is the Prometric examination fee:

  • National Physical Therapy PT’s is seventy dollars and sixty cents and for PTA’s the fee is fifty five dollars and sixty cents.

How long is the examination:

  • Five hours are allowed for the candidates to write the exam. It is advisable to arrive half an hour before testing.

Can I cancel my exam and get a refund:

  • Cancellations must be in advance and must be done in writing. Only cancellations done in writing are eligible for a refund.

How will I know what my scores were after writing the exam:

  • Your scores will be available from the local licensing authority

How often can I retake an exam should I fail:

  • This varies from state to state but as a general rule any candidate is usually allowed three attempts at the exam.

Who can I call if I have any queries regarding the NPTE programs:

  • Write to: Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy / 124s. West street, 3rd floor / Alexandria VA 22314
  • Email:
  • Telephone: 703-739-9420

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