Academic Programs > Health Sciences > Rehabilitative Services > Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical Therapist Assistant


The physical therapist assistant (PTA) is a technically educated health provider who assists the physical therapist in the provision of physical therapy and may perform physical therapy interventions selected by the supervising physical therapist. The  physical therapist assistant works under the direction and supervision of  the physical therapist, helping manage conditions such as back and neck  injuries, sprains/strains and fractures, arthritis, burns, amputations, strokes, multiple sclerosis,  birth defects, injuries related to work and sports, and others.

Enrollment - 25 students

Accreditation - The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Trident Technical College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website:
                          Accredited by CAPTE
                         The last re-accreditation visit granted accreditation until December 2014.

Schedule - The professional courses begin each Summer term. Classes include both didactic and laboratory sessions. Classes are usually scheduled Monday through Friday, between the hours of  7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. The PTA program cannot accept part-time students.

Faculty - The PTA faculty includes two full-time instructors; a program coordinator and a clinical coordinator.

Physical Demands - A Physical Therapist Assistant may need to be able to perform the following in day-to-day work situations. (Not all inclusive.)

  • Remain continuously on task for several hours while standing, sitting, moving, lifting and/or bending.
  • Gross and fine motor activities sufficient to provide safe and effective patient care.
  • Lifting and moving loads possibly in excess of 50 lbs.

Essential Functions - Students must be able to perform the Essential Functions Requred of Students for Admission and Progression in a Health Science Program. Students must meet these essential functions either without or with reasonable accomodations, such as the help of compensatory techniques and/or assistive devices and be able to demonstrate the ability to become proficient in the essential functions.

Clinic - There may be exposure to patients with infectious diseases and those who are critically ill on clinical rotations. Open wounds, blood and body fluids may be encountered in this field.

The PTA curriculum requires that each student participate in three clinical rotations-one 2-week assignment (during Summer term, usually in July or August) and two 7-week assignments (end of Fall semester and one during Spring semester usually beginning in March). Each student is required to intern at a general acute care or acute rehab hospital for one of the 7-week assignments.

The PTA program affiliates with numerous facilities in South Carolina and with limited sites out of state. These assignments will be made by the PTA faculty. Due to the limited availability of sites, there is no guarantee that a given student will be able to remain in Charleston or be placed in the location of his/her choice for clinic. Each student must sign a Memorandum of Understanding in reference to this policy prior to beginning classes. The student will be financially responsible for arranging housing, meals, and transportation during these assignments.

Insurance - Students may be required to purchase additional professional liability insurance. All students must provide proof of Major Medical health insurance prior to engaging in clinical practice in July. Students must maintain coverage throughout the three semesters of the program.

CPR Certification - All students must have CPR certification prior to clinical rotations. Students are responsible for making the necessary arrangements. Courses are offered through the College (AHS 106), area hospitals, the American Heart Association (BLS for the Healthcare Provider) or the American Red Cross (CPR for the Professional Rescuer).

Physical Therapist Assistant Student Learning Outcomes - Upon completion of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, the entry-level graduate will:

  1. Demonstrate competency in physical therapy interventions including therapeutic exercise techniques, gait and transfer training, modalities/electromodalities, and functional training and applications of devices and equipment.
  2. Accurately collect relevant physical therapy data to be used in the determination of treatment progression working toward the PTís short and long term goals.
  3. Plan and execute appropriate and safe treatment interventions for the patient within the physical therapistís plan of care and under the direction and supervision of the physical therapist.
  4. Demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving ability sufficient for clinical judgment in the determination of accurate patient progression through the PT plan of care.
  5. Appropriately report changes to the supervising physical therapist to modify or withhold interventions according to data collected, patient observations, and critical thinking judgments.
  6. Demonstrate appropriate and effective written, oral, and nonverbal communication with patients and their families, colleagues, faculty, and the public.
  7. Exhibit professional behavior relative to self-responsibility, work behaviors, time management, interpersonal skills, and cultural competence.
  8. Practice within the legal, ethical, and regulatory frameworks of physical therapy and standards of practice.
  9. Accurately utilize self-assessment practices to determine strengths and weaknesses in order to grow as a para-professional.
  10. Demonstrate understanding of the need for lifelong learning for self-improvement.
Fees - Estimated expenses for the PTA program include the following:
  CPR certification
  Uniforms/lab clothes
  Clinical (housing/travel/meals)
  APTA student membership
  Graduation Fee
  Registration examination/license
  Hepatitis B vaccine (optional)
  Criminal background check/Drug screen
$2,615.85 - 2915.85
    (excluding tuition)



Tuition is based upon current fee schedule.

  (Expenses are estimated only and may be subject to change)

Licensure - Students who successfully complete the Physical Therapist Assistant Program are eligible to take the computer-based National Physical Therapy Examination for the PTA. Passing the board examination entitles the individual to use the initials PTA, Physical Therapist Assistant. Licensure is required in the State of South Carolina.

Salary - Starting salaries for new PTA graduates vary widely based upon geographic locale and site of employment (hospital, home health, private practice, etc.). Income in the more rural areas tends to be higher than in the metropolitan areas. The 2012 state average salary for PTAs is approximately $51,000 annually while the national average is approximately $52,000 according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Career Opportunities - The availability of PTA positions is very good at the local and the national levels. Graduates of the PTA program can work in a variety of settings including hospitals, home health agencies, private practice, and the public school system.

Success Rates - (2011 - 2013)

  • Graduation rate - 69%
  • Pass rate of graduates on the National Physical Therapy Examination - 92%
  • Employment rate of graduates seeking employment in physical therapy  - 98%  
  • Comments - Individuals who have suggestions or concerns regarding the PTA program, its students or graduates may submit an email to the Program Coordinator at

    Physical Therapist Assistant Faculty

    Lori Fischer, MS, PT

    Program Coordinator

    Office Location: Main Campus, Building 630/ Room 206C

    (843) 574-6480


    Lois Schwarz, MS, PT

    Clinical Coordinator/ Department Head of Rehabilitative Services

    Office Location: Main Campus, Building 630/ Room 206B

    (843) 574-6141




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