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Competitive Advantage

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Career Spotlight: Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA)


A PTA degree means a bright future

Certified Physical Therapy Assistants (PTA) are in high demand right now. Which means people with PTA degrees are finding the jobs they want and getting paid well. And this career is likely to stay in high demand as the population continues to age and requires more health care services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that overall employment of physical therapist assistants will grow 30 percent through 2026. This is more than four times faster than the national average for all occupations.

In the US News Best Job rankings, Physical Therapy Assistant is ranked #3 in Best Health Care Support Jobs, and #20 in the Best 100 Jobs in any industry. And according to CareerOneStop, the median salary for PTAs puts it into the top 20 highest-paying occupations that require only an associate degree.

In other words, it’s good to be a PTA. Here are some more reasons why you may consider a career as a PTA.

A great opportunity in Mississippi

For 2019, (an online recruitment platform) has ranked Physical Therapy Assistant as the #1 Fastest Growing Job in Mississippi. Not only do they predict growth in PTA jobs of 132.9%, but the average annual salary of those jobs is $46,650.

As of July 2019, there are five accredited PTA degree programs available in Mississippi – Hinds Community College, Holmes Community College, Itawamba Community College, Meridian Community College, and Pearl River Community College (Hattiesburg Branch).

Helping people recover

One of the biggest benefits of a career as a PTA is the satisfaction of helping people who need it the most. Working with physical therapists, PTAs work directly with patients who have illness or injuries that limit their abilities to move and perform daily activities. Implementing therapeutic regimens developed by the physical therapist, PTA will assist patients with treatments that include stretching, targeted exercises, therapeutic massage, balance and coordination training, ultrasound therapy, electrical stimulation, heat and ice treatments, and educating patients and family on post-treatment care.

Where you can work

As a PTA, you can put your skills to use in a variety of settings:

  1. Rehabilitation Centers – working generally with inpatients recovering from a serious injury or surgery

  2. Hospitals – often working with patients immediately following an accident or surgery

  3. Occupational Therapy Facilities – helping patients re-build skills needed to live/work independently

  4. Sports Training Facilities – helping athletes improve strength, mobility, and range of motion after injuries

  5. Home Care – traveling to patients’ homes to perform therapy

  6. Outpatient Clinics – working with referred patients on orthopedic issues or other muscular injuries

  7. Skilled Nursing Facilities – assisting rehab patients having difficulty with weakness and coordination

  8. Fitness Centers – helping individuals with injuries regain their muscle definition and fitness

A career with many options

Your Physical Therapy Assistant degree will give you lots of flexibility as well. Currently, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offers specialty certification (which sometimes requires additional experience and education) in a variety of fields including:

  1. Cardiopulmonary

  2. Musculoskeletal

  3. Neuromuscular

  4. Aquatics

  5. Clinical Electrophysiology

  6. Geriatrics

  7. Neurology

  8. Orthopedics

  9. Pediatrics

  10. Sports

  11. Traumatic Injuries and Amputations

  12. Women’s Health

Becoming a PTA can also be a stepping stone to take your career in other directions. Many PTAs go back to school to become registered nurses (RNs), which are in high demand in Mississippi and across the country.

You can also proceed to earn a master’s or doctorate in physical therapy. Upon passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), and meeting licensing requirements, you’ll be working alongside doctors to develop courses of physical therapy for their patients.

Ready to go back and earn your degree?

Whether you’re perfect for a career as a physical therapy assistant, or destined for other pursuits, Complete 2 Compete is a great resource for adult learners. C2C is a Mississippi program established to help people like you go back to earn the degree you’ve always wanted. With the assistance of a personal C2C coach, you can identify the fastest pathway to completing your degree, navigate the process, and be on your way to achieving your goals. Click here to see if you’re eligible for this valuable program.


C2C is a state program that helps Mississippi adults who previously attended college earn a degree and create a brighter future.