There are six physical therapy assistant schools in Idaho, from Boise to five other cities around the state. They have the national accreditation necessary to qualify graduates to become licensed professionals.
Students may choose from among three public community colleges, two privately owned institutions, and a state university. The schools award associate in applied science degrees after about two years of instruction and training.
Opportunities are expanding for PTAs in the Gem State, with a much faster job-growth rate than in most other occupations. Salaries and wages are near the national median.
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This government office determines whether physical therapy assistants are eligible for licensure. It stipulates accreditation requirements for PTA schools, approves and administers examinations for license applicants, and imposes rules for license renewals and continuing education.
The board also conducts investigations and holds hearings concerning allegations of improper conduct. Practitioners may be censored or reprimanded, lose their licenses temporarily or permanently, be ordered to pay fines or restitution, or submit to an inspection of their facilities.
The governor names five state residents to the board. Three of them are licensed physical therapists who have been practitioners, teachers, or researchers in Idaho for at least three years. One of the officials may be a licensed physical therapist assistant, and one is “a member of the public with an interest in the rights of the consumers of health services.”
Either a high school diploma or a GED is essential to begin the process to become a physical therapy assistant in Idaho. Some PTA schools are more likely to accept applicants who took extra science, health, and math classes in high school.
State officials mandate that a prospective practitioner enroll in a nationally accredited postsecondary institution offering a PTA program “with a curriculum acceptable to the board.” The most common certification is from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), which the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognize.
Every year, practitioners must obtain 16 hours of continuing education. The state accepts the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy’s ProCert certification for continuing education.
Following the successful completion of a PTA program, the next requirement is to apply for a state license. The board asks for school transcripts and other information.
Applicants need to pass the National Physical Therapist Examination (NPTE) for PTAs, which consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. The test covers body systems, equipment and technologies, therapeutic modalities, safety and protection, professional responsibilities, and research and evidence-based practice.
Annual license renewals are required each year, to ensure that practitioners are up to date on the latest techniques and regulations.
We selected the schools below based on the programs that they offer, accreditation, student population, graduation rate and reputation.
View our Ranking Methodology to learn more about how we rank schools.
This private school system owns about 20 campuses in the western United States. To earn a PTA degree in 80 weeks, a student must complete 74 semester credit hours.
The curriculum features 750 clock hours in lectures, 300 hours in labs, and 690 hours in clinics. Besides the usual courses, there are classes in writing and composition, mathematics, interpersonal communication, sociology, physics, laws and ethics, and psychology.
Program applicants compete for slots with their entrance exam scores, work or volunteer experience in healthcare facilities, and previous degrees. More than 80 percent of students receive financial aid.
A public community college, NIC has a picturesque main campus on the lakefront in Coeur d’Alene. The school’s PTA program lasts two years.
Students take the standard coursework, as well as a Special Populations class that teaches rehabilitation techniques for women, seniors, and patients with certain medical conditions. Two clinical affiliations involve a total of 16 weeks of full-time work. Only 10 students are accepted.
Prerequisite classes are anatomy and physiology (with cadavers), English composition, math, medical terminology, communication, and psychology. Sixteen hours of observation in a physical therapy setting are required for admission.
A PTA program totaling 70 credit hours is available at this community college in Twin Falls.
CSI is part of a consortium of four Idaho schools that provide the same curriculum. The program covers the basic subjects, as well as Data Collection, Special Populations, Fundamentals of Oral Communication, and Introduction to Psychology. Classes are limited to 10 students.
Before beginning technical courses, students must pass prerequisite and general education classes in mathematics, composition, writing and rhetoric, psychology, communication, human anatomy and physiology, and medical terminology.
This is the largest community college in the state, with a main campus in Nampa.
CWI is a member of the PTA consortium, in which students take general education and lab classes at any of the four schools. Technical courses are delivered with interactive video conference equipment. The two-year program requires two years of full-time study.
Classes are no larger than 14 students. The rate for graduates passing the licensing exam is at or near 100 percent every year, and the school has continuing education classes for its graduates.
This large public research university is based in Pocatello. ISU’s two-year program for future PTAs is composed of 71 credit hours over five semesters.
Among the required courses are English Composition, Biology I (with a lab), Principles of Speech, Introduction to General Psychology, and Medical Law and Ethics. There are also 16 credit hours of general education courses and three clinical affiliations.
The school uses competitive admissions standards based on ACT and SAT scores, and math and English assessments. Just 20 students are accepted each fall. Graduates can pursue a bachelor of health science or doctor of physical therapy degrees.
BYU is a privately owned school in Rexburg that is affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Applicants must be seminary graduates with positive recommendations.
The four-semester PTA program covers the basic coursework. Prerequisite classes are Human Anatomy & Physiology I and II (with labs), Introduction to Kinesiology and Biomechanics, and Medical Terminology. Students perform two full-time, seven-week internships — one at an outpatient clinic; the other at an acute care, rehabilitation, nursing home, or pediatric facility.
The program restricts class sizes to 20 students. Nearly all of the graduates pass the licensing examination and secure employment as PTAs.
The curriculum at each of the following schools features lecture classes, hands-on labs, and real-world experiences. Students spend four or five semesters on campus or in clinics.
Standard course topics include therapeutic models and exercises, orthopedic and neurological rehabilitation, anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, pathology, physical agents, data collection, and license exam preparation.
Some schools augment the basics by adding classes in certain specialties and related subjects. There are often prerequisite and general education courses. The number of credit hours generally exceeds 70.
An Idaho PTA’s median income is about $53,670 annually or $25.80 hourly, not far below the national averages of over $58,000 or nearly $28.
The highest 10% of practitioners in the state make almost $73,450 or more than $35.30, less than the U.S. norms (over $79,800 or nearly $38.40). The lowest 10% receive over $22,500 or close to $11 in Idaho; about $33,800 or $16.25 nationally.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerOneStop
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