PTA vs PT... Physical Therapy, a long term career?

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Ann in Beverly, New Jersey

72 months ago

Here is some more insight. As a PTA with my experience, I make more money than most PT's just coming out of school. The bigest difference I see between the two besides the odvious is that there is alot more opportunities for PT's than there are for PTA's therefore, there is more opportunity to make more money in the long run. Also, when or if you get burnt out, you can do more as a PT than PTA. That is proably why there are less PT's still workingor actually treating after 20 years. Physical Therapy is a good field and there are alot of good things about it but just like other professions, it has its down sides too. I would check yours State's guidelines for upcoming changes or call the State board for specifics. I know most States will require a DPT to practce as a PT in the future but few changes are happening for PTA's. Good Luck Hope some of this helped.

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Mike in Saint Louis, Missouri

71 months ago

I would choose PA or PT before PTA. I've been a PTA for almost 10 years and originally checked into the PA program first followed by the PT. The only reason why I didn't follow through was because of the long waiting list which was around 5 years. I enjoy being a PTA but unless you plan on getting your MBA and eventually working in healthcare managment or some coorporate job it really is a limited profession both profesionally and financially. If I could go back I would have choosen to get my PA or PT degree. I did however go on to get my ATC. It's fun but doesn't pay well.

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anton in San Antonio, Texas

70 months ago

Paula in Düsseldorf, Germany said: I'm also considering either a PTA program. However, I have two problems. The first: I don't want to work for a PT who considers me to be "inferior" or patients who think I'm just a "helper" and don't have any real training. Do any PTAs out there feel this way at their job? The second: I know that the job can be physically demanding. How physically demanding is it? On an average day, what's the heaviest amount of weight you're required to lift without assistance? This is very important for me to know before I get into this field, as I am a 5'2" 105lb female. I'm strong for my size, but I'm not going to be able to lift large patients by myself.[/QUOTEMy
My Supervising PT is really nice and listens to any concerns or recommendations on patients plan of care. If you feel passionate about your patients you should not run into that problem but not all therapists are the same. Any how, it is a great career and lifting is a must if you work in inpatient rehab or skilled nursing facility. Using good body mechanics and help from the PT tech should make things easier. It is a great career to pursue that is in such high demand. If you need a job I know this great company!!

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shellby in Dearborn, Michigan

70 months ago

DavePTA in Pooler, Georgia said: I'm a PTA with experience and I enjoy my job. I make good money. My PTA program was in a University that also has a PA program and Pharmacy Program. I have the respect as a colleague and professional from PT's and OT's that I work with (4 OT's, 11 PT's, 1 COTA, and 3 other PTA's at hospital based outpatient). I'm known as one of the resources for spines/orthopedic manual at our facility (I've been through McKenzie A,B,C and other manual courses). I now shadow our Clinical Manager(our resident spine specialist) between two facilities and we SHARE patients so that when he is at one facility, I am at the opposite. Some of the PT's ask me questions after their evals to help develop a treatment strategy for the more complex patients. I'm an APTA credentialed clinical instructor. I was our facility CCCE for about 1 year and managed 23 students (PT/PTA/OT) with their respective CI's. Georgia has very liberal PTA regulations that allow me to basically do everything a PT does (including manual therapy), shy of the initial eval and required reassessments. Also, when a plan of care is documented at our facility it is is done so broadly to allow the PTA's freedom to treat. I don't list my CV as a chance to brag...only to say that if professional respect and posterity is what you're after...it's out there. It just may be in another state where the laws are different. It could also be a decision that you won't be "just an assistant"...a conclusion I came to when I first came out of school. Maybe I won't be doing this in 10 years, but I can say that I'm glad this won in my debate of PTA vs. PA.

Hi Dave - what is required to become an APTA credentialed instructor? Sounds interesting! Thank you!

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DavePTA in Pooler, Georgia

70 months ago

It's a two day course and a test. Check out the APTA website for details. Some schools have begun to require that all CI's that are incolved with their students hold this credential. I guess it's a sort of standard that they're progressing toward, especially with the nationwide moves to direct access and direct reimbursement.

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JJ in Hagerstown, Maryland

68 months ago

I suspect you will be going to either Carroll or Arundel? I have looked at both Maryland and other state options. I have most of the pre-reqs but my science requirements are too old. So I feel your pain on getting all the labs done.

I am 40. I have been looking at PT for 10 years promising myself I'd go into the field. I have volunteered at Good Samaritan Hospital, Franklin Square and two outpatient facilities. I see no better career for myself. (I looked at PT, PTA, PA and RN)

My advice? Well you are single and that gives you mobility to go to any school. Have you completed any of the science classes? Some accredited schools (not Maryland) will accept old science credits (i.e. older than the 5 year cutoff point) for the DPT.

Is the PA still offered at TSU?

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jonathanbanks78 in Towson, Maryland

68 months ago

JJ,

Actually, Arundel CC ultimately will only take applicants from the county, even though they say its open. They give the incounty first dibs. I went to Carrol but they required the A&Ps both to be complete prior to the application. BCCC was the only one that allowed to take them in the summer, which i'm doing. Actually, taking my first A&P class at BCCC. I'm very impressed and surprised with the resources and teaching. This is mainly why i'm thinking about PA. I am loving the A&P, doing very well, and one professor is an MD, and like where he is taking the class.

I haven't been to Good Samaritan or Franklin, I did some at Sinai.

You're only 40, why not just go for you're PTA? Also, why did you think it suits you over PA?

I'm leaning either PTA or PA.

I'm not sure about TU, I know its really competitive. I was thinking about UMES's program. I grew up in Salisbury, and looked at both their DPT and PA programs.

Why

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jonathanbanks78 in Towson, Maryland

68 months ago

ptfool,

Why would you say there is more job security in nursing? Aren't jobs being outsourced in Hospital now from overseas in Hospitals? They are trying to get cheaper labor.

I can see RN being more diverse than PT or PTA, but how about PA? I know that PA offers more autonomy.

Would you say if someone was looking to do travel med, that PT or PTA would be the best? Also, I hear there is so much flexibility in Home health with PT. You can make own schedule, and are paid very well. My concern with PT is that I would get bored with it overtime.

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JJ in Hagerstown, Maryland

68 months ago

What is happening in the nursing field, Jonathan? How are things being outsourced?

Question for you - If not PT why PA?

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banks78 in Towson, Maryland

68 months ago

JJ,

From what I hear from my mother an RN, a lot of hospitals in certain areas are hiring International hires, those from India and other countries. The labor rates are less than hiring new grads, us citizens. I'm not sure this is the case everywhere, just what I hear.

In PT field, you must have a degree that is APTA cert, so no Intl competition in that field.

PA seems very interesting to me, because it gives a person a wide range of experience and many different medical circumstances. All in all, I am solely looking to help the patient. But with PT you are mainly rehabbing mobility within limbs and body. A PA is involved in so much more in medical decision making, and helping an array of patient needs.

I am really loving my A&P classes, so I was thinking limiting myself solely to joints, bones, muscles, and motorary functions, may get less challenging over time. That's all.

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JJ in Hagerstown, Maryland

68 months ago

You definitely sound like you have answered your own question! What science classes do you still need for entrance into the PA program? It's been awhile since I looked at that program but from what I remember it was a program between TU and BCCC (Essex branch). Is that still the same program?

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paul in Clarksville, Tennessee

68 months ago

I would go for the DPT because no matter how much you make as a PTA you will always have to work under a PT and you can never be the true boss

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happy go lucky PT in Pound, Wisconsin

67 months ago

I am a PT and I love my job, however the paper work is burdensome and it is very mentally and physically challenging. I don't believe you would get bored with the profession unless you continually rehab patients with knee replacements! I get the chance to meet many different individuals with many different diagnoses and help them regain their independence. You actually get to see the results of your hard work, whether it's the first steps of a patient with a spinal cord injury that was once told they would never walk again, or improving a 96 year old woman’s balance so she can go home alone without a risk of falls. As a PA, you do not have the opportunity to bond with your patient on a daily basis like you would as a PTA or PT. As for PT vs. PTA, if I had to do it all over again I personally wouldn't change a thing because I love to learn, not because I want to be the "true" boss. Our PTA's do have many freedoms and I find my role as more of a "guide". The only time I require the PTA ask for approval of a certain treatment is when it is beyond the normal protocol. I feel as if collectively we are all a team trying to accomplish one goal...get people back on their feet.

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banks78 in Towson, Maryland

67 months ago

happy go lucky,

Good input! Thanks for sharing you're thoughts, it is helpful!

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ConfusedKid in Aberdeen, South Dakota

67 months ago

I'm 20 years old, and have 2 years of college under my belt. Options I'm considering:
1. PTA, which could be done in about a year and a half, but my 2 years so far would be somewhat of a waste
2. ATC, which I'd be done with in 3 years, and then going on to PT school for another 2 years.

I know I'm young, so I'm worried if I choose PTA I'd be choosing the easy route, and not challenging myself enough. And apparently PTA is not a stepping stone to PT so it's not like I can change my mind necessarily.. It'd be best to decide sooner rather than later I think. Also, can someone give me some numbers as to what PTAs versus PTs make?

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banks78 in Cockeysville, Maryland

67 months ago

ConfusedKid,

At you're age i'd go for the DPT. Make sure you get the highest grades possible in the pre-reqs for the program. I'd take you're A&P's during you're Bachelors so it'll be fresh. Just try to get into the cheapest accredited program.

From what I hear in this area starting PTA's make 50k and PT's 65K. If you travel or do homehealth it is more.

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turtleblues78 in Swartz Creek, Michigan

66 months ago

Boo in Cumberland, Maryland said: I think the reason there is no responses is because people don't know. Right now a PTA degree is in high demand and the barrier of entry is low. The PT degree has an extremely high barrier of entry now due to the DPT. Most people on here are second career folks that have already ruled out the DPT as an option.

I find the DPT to be a fairly risky investment . This presumption is based on the medicare cuts, decreased reimbursement trends, and the uncertainty of healthcare reform. With this risk the debt to income ratio is high. There are DPTs graduating with over 100k of debt and starting at 50k/year. Its a tough financial reality to face if you plan on buying a house and raising a family. I've heard that there aren't many PTs practicing over twenty years.

I may still pursue the DPT but the plan would be to live like a college student for the next five to ten years and focus on paying down the debt within a ten year span. To opt for a 25-30 year plan most likely means you'll be paying two or three times as much debt total for your education . I don't plan on having children so this could work for me. Its a tough time right now for PTs. There's no doubt that other healthcare professions offer a better income potential. Pharmacy, Medicine, and Nursing all have better ROIs. They also have better job security.

Boo- Have you made any further decisions? I am still trying to determine between PT/ PTA, it is certainly a difficult decision. I plan on applying to 2 PTA programs and 2 PT programs in the fall; so I suppose I have decided not to decide. What troubles me most is the pay disparity, I think I would like the independence of being a PT, but have trouble justifying the $100k debt/ $50k salary. Just curious to see if you have any further insight.

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banks78 in Baltimore, Maryland

66 months ago

Turtleblues78,

You have you're salaries a little off. PTA's make about 50k to start. DPT's can expect at minimum 65k, but can make a considerable amount more. They can make 75/hour in HH.

I think the decision atleast for me lies more on you're current age. You can finish a PTA program in 1 1/2 years and a DPT will take at minimum 3 years and possibly 1 year of prereq's. If you have you're pre-req's for the DPT out and you're grades were solid, if it was me i'd lean on the PT for sure.

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turtleblues78 in Swartz Creek, Michigan

66 months ago

banks78 in Baltimore, Maryland said: Turtleblues78,

You have you're salaries a little off. PTA's make about 50k to start. DPT's can expect at minimum 65k, but can make a considerable amount more. They can make 75/hour in HH.

I think the decision atleast for me lies more on you're current age. You can finish a PTA program in 1 1/2 years and a DPT will take at minimum 3 years and possibly 1 year of prereq's. If you have you're pre-req's for the DPT out and you're grades were solid, if it was me i'd lean on the PT for sure.

Thank you for your input. I realize I exaggerated the low salary for PT's, but $100k debt (probably more since I would have to take out loans to live on) at age 36 and no stellar salary to match frightens me. However, so does becoming a PTA and not earning enough to make ends meet. I'm really torn.

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banks78 in Towson, Maryland

66 months ago

Turtleblues78,

Do you have all you're science pre-req's out of the way? That would be atleast another year and more money. From what it sounds I would surely go the PTA route, if Physical Therapy is truly the area of medicine you have you're heart set on. Obviously there are other areas of medicine that you can do more quickly and less expensive than DPT. (Nursing, X-ray, OT, Speech Theraphy.) OT might be a great option. They work hand in hand with PT's.

But honestly, PTA's atleast in my area make a good living. I do hear Michigan is a little different. In my area, it's not unrealistic to make 32/hr as a PTA. Also more in other areas.

Go with you're heart, and the availability in getting into programs. PTA programs are also in high demand so it will be competitive and in some areas a waiting list.

Good luck to you, and God bless.

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PTA in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

65 months ago

I have been a PTA for 16+years. I love it. But I say if you are young go for PT. The career ladder is better, and there are so many more options. Most PTA's remain just that...PTA's. Some become program managers, but overall there is not a lot of room for growth. I do make great money, but my options are very limited.These are things that matter as we age, because the field for the most part is extremely physically demanding. Something I didn't think about when I was younger and invincible.

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foreign PT in Irving, Texas

65 months ago

PTA in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania said: I have been a PTA for 16+years. I love it. But I say if you are young go for PT. The career ladder is better, and there are so many more options. Most PTA's remain just that...PTA's. Some become program managers, but overall there is not a lot of room for growth. I do make great money, but my options are very limited.These are things that matter as we age, because the field for the most part is extremely physically demanding. Something I didn't think about when I was younger and invincible.

hello friend iam a foreign PT just want to ask you one question do you know that without pta license can any one work...in texas.
iam doing my masters in kinesiology...looking for an OPT can you or any one please give me advices regarding this. how can i get opt.

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Boo in Central City, Pennsylvania

63 months ago

turtleblues78 in Swartz Creek, Michigan said: Boo- Have you made any further decisions? I am still trying to determine between PT/ PTA, it is certainly a difficult decision. I plan on applying to 2 PTA programs and 2 PT programs in the fall; so I suppose I have decided not to decide. What troubles me most is the pay disparity, I think I would like the independence of being a PT, but have trouble justifying the $100k debt/ $50k salary. Just curious to see if you have any further insight.

I'm planning on applying a couple DPT programs. I'm looking to cross the 30k+/year tuition programs off of the list. That's not including costs of living, books, etc. It'll easily be over 100k when all is said and done. Add it all together, and then look at the salary (which is decreasing actually due to Medicare and other third-party reimbursers), it starts to look a little scary. I've also talked to a number of DPTs who seem to be opting for the 25-30 repayment plan. I don't feel comfortable with that. I'd rather live in a bus, working PRN and pay this down in five.

The good news is the barrier of entry to this field is so high now that it'll be hard to overflood the market. Always looking on the bright side. lol The funny thing is there is a PTA program practically right next to me that is 10k for the entire program, and I keep trying to rationalize that it's somehow worth it to take loans out comparable to a mortgage payment. I find it amusing PTAs are stating $32/hour when I here PTs saying this is what they make. Trying to read between the lines is next to impossible. I guess I'll be one of the guys Josh in Akron states that will have my own PT clinic out the back of my bus while living off the land giving all proceeds to student loans. It's a good thing I don't have a family or a life for that matter. lol I can see the sign now ... "Budget Therapy" hanging off the back of my bus, parked in a chiropractors parking lot

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49er H8er in Temple City, California

63 months ago

Yo, Josh. Not everyone wants to be a nurse. A lot of people are happy in their careers not because of what they make but because what they do is rewarding.

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josh in Tallmadge, Ohio

63 months ago

49er H8er in Temple City, California said: Yo, Josh. Not everyone wants to be a nurse. A lot of people are happy in their careers not because of what they make but because what they do is rewarding.

Your choice if you want to owe 120k and only make 60k starting off...don't forget housing, car insurance, price of gas, thinking of starting a family, going out, buying a car, and asking yourself why you did it.

CRNA and CNP's will be a PHD in the future, but you can make 50-70k easily starting off as a RN too! You can pay it off easily and go to state colleges and save so much money.

Take my advice and go RN!

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CHANGE OF MIND in Baltimore, Maryland

59 months ago

IM A FOREIGN GRADUATE,BACHELORS DEGREE IN PT BUT I DIDNT GET MY STATE BOARD YET.IM PLANNING TO GET PTA INSTEAD PURSUING MY CAREER IN PT.I DONT KNOW IF IM MAKING A RIGHT DECISION PLEASE HELP ME.

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jmill in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

58 months ago

I see alot of people are in the same dilemma that I am dealing with. I have 2 bach. degrees, ATC and Health and PE Edu. I was a teacher for 4 years and decided to quit and apply for PT degree. I have been working in a PT clinic for over a year now, getting a few last pre-req's, but have recently been battling whether PTA would be a better choice. I am 27 years old and would get into PT school till 2012. I have a lot of the classes needed for the 1st year of PTA so I would need only 3 semesters to finish. I recently have had 2 PT's that I trust tell me if they could do it all over again they would go the PTA route. What do u think you would do?? Any thoughts would help me greatly, I am literally going crazy trying to decide.......THANKS

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sobe in Gardnerville, Nevada

58 months ago

Seems we are are all in the same dilemma.I am 26 with a BA in Exercise Science, getting my National Strength and Condtioning Certification and working in a Physical Therapy office and LOVING IT. I am however driving myself crazy deciding if I should go all out and get my PT or if I should go for the PTA program. I really want to work with athletes, so I want to know what my best option would be. I loving working with people but being a former college athlete, I like working with people who have the same values of exercise as I do. Any advice?

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T in San Diego, California

58 months ago

Did you get any advice from the PTs or PTA's in the PT Office you work at?

A while back I wanted to do PTA, then I interviews for a PT Aide job and the PT convinced me to just do PT. SO I started doing prereqs and all that is necessary for that. So Im doing observation hours and there are PTA Students there and they told me they wanted to do PT but got denied so they are now doing PTA. 2 of them already have a Kinesiology degree too so its kinda upsetting. And I do know that PT school is soo competitive so thats why I was considering PTA. But it doesnt hurt to try to get into PT school

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BV in San Jose, California

56 months ago

I recently graduated with a B.S. in Kinesiology, but with a low 2.8 overall GPA. My prerequisite GPA for physical therapy school is only at 2.6 prerequisite GPA. Like most people with GPAs as low as mine, I didn't do very well in college my first couple years and switched majors in my 4th year of almost like starting from scratch. My last few years of college I averaged well over 3.0, but had trouble bringing my overall back up due to my poor grades that skewed my GPA.

GPAs like mine are nearly impossible to get into a Physical Therapy program, but I have a couple other qualities that can strengthen an application. As of right now I have close to over a 1000+ hours from inpatient and outpatient settings as a physical therapist aide and currently have all the prerequisites for Physical Therapy school. I also have participated in many extra-curricular activities, as well as, multiple volunteer opportunities. The only problem is that I just don't have the GPA for a Physical Therapy program.

I am really considering on applying to a Physical Therapist Assistant program in hopes that this route will knock out two birds with one stone: make a little more income working as a PTA - instead of as an aide - while I improve my GPA for grad school. My main questions are: will the classes I take in a Physical Therapist Assistant program improve my overall GPA and is this route a practical way of improving my chances of, eventually, getting into a Physical Therapy program, considering my circumstances?

Advise from PTs and PTAs will be very much appreciated.

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Future PTA in Gilbert, Arizona

56 months ago

I'm not a PTA, but I don't think it will take one to tell you that taking more classes will have an effect on your GPA. You really should try and calculate how good you need to do in these classes to bring your GPA up to what you need it to be. Doing the math yourself and making sure that it is even possible to get it where it needs to be (again, something only you would know) is going to be more helpful than asking a question only you can answer.

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BV in San Jose, California

56 months ago

I understand that taking more classes does effect your GPA. Thanks for pointing that out, but this is not what I was asking.

I also understand that PTA is not a stepping stone for PT, but as of right now I meet all the necessary prerequisite classes to get into PT school, the only problem is my overall GPA is low. If I take a PTA program, I can bring up my overall GPA and work as a PTA, instead of as an aide. With my circumstances, is that a practical way to eventually work on getting into a Physical Therapy school or should I spend a couple extra years working as an aide, while I try to bring up my GPA for PT school?

I need a PTA or PT to tell me if they know anyone that has taken the PTA to PT route. What would you do?

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T in San Diego, California

56 months ago

If you meet all the necessary prereq classes to get into PT school - Apply to PT school. I have known some people that got into PT school with not so stellar grades. They had strong GRE scores, lotsa observation hours and other strong areas of their apps. Grades arent the only thing they are looking at so it is worth a shot to apply IMO.

You can get into a PTA school, but many have long waiting lists. But if you can get into a school without waiting too long, then do it.

If your ultimate goal is to get into PT school, skip PTA school. That is what alot of the PTs I shadowed told me to do. As you probably already know there is no bridge programs for PTA to PT. Well actually I thikn there is, one but its in Ohio or something. They also told me that the schools dont look at applicants that were PTAs and applicants that werent PTAs any differently. At the clinic I shadowed at there were PTAs and PTs and 2 of the PTs were PTAs first and then went on to PT school. And she said she just wished she went straight to PT school since the classes she took in PTA school didnt trasnfer so it was back to square one for her.

See if you can retake some science courses if those are the ones that have low grades. They care most about the science grades.

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Future PTA in Gilbert, Arizona

56 months ago

If you've got the prereqs, why not apply to both and see what shakes out?

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BV in San Jose, California

56 months ago

Thanks T for the reply. I did find your reply very useful to know that PTA to PT is a possible route. I'm still planning on applying to PT school this Fall cycle, I just don't want to waste any time if I don't get in right away. PTA is a fall back plan in the event that I don't get into a "cheap" PT school (I know what you're thinking, "you get what you pay for.") There are cheaper schools that have great reputations. For instance, I would definitely choose the UCSF program over some of the private schools in California. UCSF is cheaper and has a good reputation. That's the golden egg.

I want to get the most bang for my buck if I'm looking into PT school. I'm just worried that I my grades are only good enough for a private school. I talked to some PTs that went to private school and they pay close to $2000/month ($24,000/year) in loans. If you subtract the private school loans, PTAs can make close to private school PT salary. I'm not trying to put down private schools, but is being a PT worth it if there are close to $120,000 worth of loans afterwards?

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T in San Diego, California

56 months ago

Im actually in the same boat as you BV. PTA is my backup plan too cause I know PT school is sooo damn competitive. As stated in my old post above, the PT clinic I shadowed at had lotsa PTA students that did not get in PT school despite their Kinesiology degree background and that is why they were going the PTA route. There were PTs there that got rejected once or twice but they kept on and eventually got in.

I def agree with you with going for the cheaper schools, the state, NON private schools. When you enter the job market it is not gonna matter where you graduated from as long as you are licensed. And these private PT schools like St Augustine is gonna cost you close to $100K!! PTs dont even make that kind of $$. The cost of school should be about the same as the salary you make when you get out of school. Im hearing its about $70k starting, so paying $100k+ for the DPT education is not worth it IMO. Ive actually heard some PTs complain and think they are not compensated well enough for all the schooling they have to do. I dont even know if PTs can make $100K, and if they do, Im sure its not very common.

Private schools are definitely not as selective, and honestly as long as you have the moolah, theyll take you in. They are FOR profit schools after all

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T in San Diego, California

56 months ago

USC is crazy expensive too. I dunno how anyone can justify paying their tuition considering the salary of the average PT. It just doesnt make any sense. Anyone will tell you, go the cheapest route for school, provided they have good pass rates.

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Capt27 in Kent, Ohio

54 months ago

My daughter is thinking about PT school. I advised her that she need to research both PTA and PT. What I dont understand is why cant you work as a PTA while getting your PT. I have been told that some employment places might even help with the cost of the transision. As a father I find it hard for a 18 year old daughter to invest such time and money for the status of a PT name. When in the end it is the money that counts. 6 years of schooling seems like alot for the pay difference. There is alot more to life than a title.

I would love some more input so I can help her make a good choice.

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Parent in Anniston, Alabama

52 months ago

I too am a parent trying to help my high school student to make a good decision about her future. The biggest problem I have is that if going the DPT route and life gets in the way as it sometimes does...she could end up having a 4 yr degree but no career. My other daughter is going CRNA and in her case if she doesn't decide to go all the way she will still be an RN and will have a decent paying career. Is there a degree prior to getting into a DPT program that will give her the DPT prereqs and also be a career in 4 years?

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D, PT in La Plata, Maryland

52 months ago

Things to consider: As one gets older, the physical work involved by working in a hospital and nursing home might make it impossible to continue to work as a PT, and there are no desk jobs, and few management jobs for PTs to transition to, as compared to nursing. No place I have ever worked at, allowed PTs to work if they needed a cane. Also, employers often expect PTs to work full-time and evening hours with benefits, or part-time with no benefits. The full-time benefited day time positions are very limited unless you work in the hospital or nursing home. Nurses often get paid overtime, or at least hourly for extra work hours, so I think usually full-time nurses make more per hour than PTs, but mainly because PTs don't get paid for a significant amount of their work hours. The salaries for PTs though is listed as higher than nurses, but it is misleading. Usually full-time PTs are salary, or only allowed to record 40 hrs, even if they are working longer, and rarely get a paid break, or can really take their non-paid break to make a phone call to schedule that doctor's appointment. They don't dare record all their hours, or they will get dinged on efficiency studies, and might fear being laid off or terminated. PTs though can usually find another job fairly quickly. Nurses are usually replaced by the next shift of workers, so even though they can get burned out by too many pt.'s, it does not necessarily mean they are staying a couple non-paid hours after their shift is over. PTs might see 2 to 3 people an hour, and have more paperwork, so they then have to work hours off the clock. This work is not necessarily acknowledged, and rarely paid. Most of my jobs required me to work some weekends and some holidays.

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g in Harleysville, Pennsylvania

52 months ago

Parent in Anniston, Alabama said: I too am a parent trying to help my high school student to make a good decision about her future. The biggest problem I have is that if going the DPT route and life gets in the way as it sometimes does...she could end up having a 4 yr degree but no career. My other daughter is going CRNA and in her case if she doesn't decide to go all the way she will still be an RN and will have a decent paying career. Is there a degree prior to getting into a DPT program that will give her the DPT prereqs and also be a career in 4 years?

medical laboratory science or nursing (she will need to squeeze in 2 semesters of physics though)

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Jak in Ashland, Ohio

52 months ago

First off I'd like to thank all the input to this forum its been extremely helpful. I am going to be graduating in the Spring with a Bachelors degree in Exercise Science. I spent my summer doing a internship with a D1 football team and their strength and conditioning department only to be told time and time again to find a different career path. I have been looking into PTA vs. PT as well but like others in this forum I have had my reservations. I am running out of time to apply to PT schools and honestly from what everyone is saying its not what I want. I was just wondering if anyone had any input as to if PTA is the right route I should be taking even though it'd be an associates degree when I already will have my bachelors or if there were any suggestions for someone with an ES degree that would provide better financial benefits then a PTA but roughly the same role. Im a people person and like to help people get better. Strong back ground in athletics and strength and conditioning. I plan to get CSCS certified this summer as well. Any ideas would be appreciated

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PTA in Weston, Florida

52 months ago

Jak,

About 30% of PTAs and PTA students have a BS or MS degree.

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Abby in Salt Lake City, Utah

52 months ago

Whether or not PT school is worth the money depends on how long you plan to work. For example, here are some ROUGH estimates of cost vs salary (these are ROUGH estimates are based on national averages):
PTA: cost $10K, salary x 5 years $200K = $190K earned
PT: cost $100K, salary x 5 years $300K = $200K earned
PTA: cost $10K, salary x 10 years $450K = $440K earned
PT: cost $100K, salary x 10 years $700K = $600K earned
PTA: cost $10K, salary x 20 years $950K = $940K earned
PT: cost $100K, salary x 20 years $1600K = $1500K earned
So if you only work 5 years after graduating, PTAs and PTs come out about the same. But after 10-20 years, PTs are WAY ahead. I started out as a PTA and did pretty well financially, but I hated how I had to do what others told me to do. Even though my bosses always respected my opinions, it always boiled down to doing what THEY wanted to do. I am now a PT and I absolutely love my job. I set my own hours and basically do what I want. It was well worth the extra year of prereqs and huge tuition bill.

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Patriot in Mesa, Arizona

51 months ago

I am in my second semester of a PTA program. I could say much positive about the program and instructors. I and all my classmates do have one VERY BIG concern! We are extremely frustrated with the method of testing modalities. The instructors turn a simple physical agent such as cold pack into a very long, drawn out, complex procedure including extensive lists of contraindications and precautions. Then they proceed to test via a roleplay method with an instructor staring at you. Even all this would be tolerable except that it is pass fail and they regularly fail students which brings an abrupt and expensive end to their education. An occasional roleplay skill competency test would be acceptable but this is a weekly torturous ritual for the next 14 months! I have difficulty imagining not failing at least one. I am scared to death! Do programs at other schools use this method of testing? If anybody has any words of wisdom to instill confidence or help us understand why we are being subjected to this environment of lingering dread that is so detrimental to the learning process, I would appreciate hearing it.

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Future PTA in Tacoma, Washington

51 months ago

Abbey,

Your math doesn't take into account the extra two-three years of schooling for a PT degree when you could be graduated and working as a PTA. Seven years, not five, is the break even point when this is taken into account.

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J in Buffalo, New York

51 months ago

while its true there aren't many "bridge" programs, PT schools would be wise to consider PTA graduates..who else makes a better candidate. The programs are very close in their curriculum layouts in some cases as well (usually class work, lab work, clinical work)

i guess the only technicality is it isn't a bachelors.... but the PTA curriculum in the 2 yrs is probably more relevant than the next closest similar bachelors program

maybe in the future, the APTA could outline on how it would work.

nevertheless, there is good demand for PTA's...where they graduate sooner, and can help PT's right away

if PT's didn't need extra help, there wouldn't be PTA's, lol

its still pretty amazing that a community college degree can right-off-the-bat jump into the field under a 6-yr doctoral degree, doing alot of what they do as well.

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J in Buffalo, New York

51 months ago

thats about right

don't worry about "downgrading" the degrees .... many ppl do

in my program (expecting to graduate 10-15), 3 have a prior bachelors (in my case, 2 bachelors, and a minor !)

its the degree you use that makes a difference, and if it gets me a job (i'm not going to be a statistic), and a worth-while career....from a 2-yr community college, go for it

for some others, a DPT may work , or may not , a PTA may/may not work also

you do hear of other professionals changing course into a DPT, but thats rare, given the time/$ committment

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PTAlaura in Willowbrook, Illinois

50 months ago

jennivee in Leesburg, Florida said: I wish you had got some feedback because these are my thoughts almost exactly. I have a B.S. degree, but I am considering going back (feels like a step back) to get a PTA (considering the costs of grad school, etc). I just don't want to feel that I am working so far below my level.

I have my B.S. degree in Kinesiology and I went back to school to become a PTA. I know the feeling of going backwards but most of the people in my program had a B.S. I just started working as a PTA and I really like it.

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PTA in Weston, Florida

50 months ago

PTAlaura in Willowbrook, Illinois said: I have my B.S. degree in Kinesiology and I went back to school to become a PTA. I know the feeling of going backwards but most of the people in my program had a B.S. I just started working as a PTA and I really like it.

PTAlaura,

What type of setting did you start working in as a PTA? Can you tell us the pros and cons of that environment? Thanks.

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