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Physical Therapist Assistant

One of the most important benefits of being a physical therapist assistant is the personal satisfaction that comes from helping others. PTAs work directly with patients to enhance their health and fitness and play an important part in improving the quality of life of people with disabilities.

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Trident Technical College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia, 22305-3085; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org; website: http://www.capteonline.org. Accreditation has been granted until December 2024. If you need to contact the program/institution directly, please contact Wendy Albano at 843-574-6713 or wendy.albano@tridenttech.edu.

What can I do as a 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.

What characteristics and skills do I need to work in this field?

Physical therapist assistants must be able to think on their feet. They should be well organized, detail oriented and compassionate. Physical therapist assistants should be able to take direction and work well in a team situation. They should have strong interpersonal skills and a desire to help people in need. PTAs need a moderate degree of strength because of the physical exertion required in assisting patients with their treatments. Frequent kneeling, stooping, bending, lifting and standing for long periods are part of the job.

Where can I work?

Physical therapist assistants work in a broad range of settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics or offices, rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing, extended care, patient homes, education centers, schools, hospices, fitness centers and sports training facilities. Starting salaries vary based on geographic locale and practice setting. The national average is $32,000-$75,000 annually. 

What does Trident Technical College offer?

Trident Technical College’s Physical Therapist Assistant associate degree program has both class studies and clinic time in which students work with physical therapists in various settings, including a hospital. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Upon completion of the program, the student will receive an Associate in Applied Science degree. The graduate is then eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Exam for Physical Therapist Assistants in order to obtain licensure and practice as a PTA. Passing the board examination entitles the individual to use the initials PTA, Physical Therapist Assistant.

The program has determined that its curriculum meets the state educational requirements for licensure or certification in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands secondary to its accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, based on the following:

 CAPTE accreditation of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant program satisfies state educational requirements in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Thus, students graduating from CAPTE-accredited physical therapist assistant education programs are eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Examination and apply for licensure in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information regarding state qualifications and licensure requirements, refer to the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy website at www.fsbpt.org.

General Information about Trident Technical College’s PTA Program


Admission is based on a FIRST-QUALIFIED, FIRST-ADMITTED basis, so students must ensure they meet the General College Admission Requirements and the Physical Therapist Assistant Program Admission Requirements. 

  1. Upon admission to the college, submit a Health Sciences Application online.   

  2. Provide proof that all general education courses (prerequisite courses) have been completed with a minimum grade of “C.” Courses include: BIO 210, BIO 211 and AHS 104 must have been taken within five years of admission date. Applications can be submitted prior to completion of all general education courses but acceptance will not occur until all requirements are met.

    The PTA Program has a Repeat Rule regarding admissions: No more than four of the eight prerequisite courses may be repeated, and no course may be repeated more than once. However, students with multiple repeats may be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

  3. Achieve a minimum cumulative 2.75 GPA in the required science (BIO 210 and BIO 211), math (either MAT 120 or MAT 110), and English (ENG 101) courses. * This is a change to the prior GPA requirement effective May 2020.

  4. Complete the online Information Session: https://ttcwebapps.tridenttech.edu/PTAOAS/.

  5. Submit to the Admissions office a completed Volunteer/Observation form documenting a minimum of 40 hours in a physical therapy facility. A minimum of 20 hours must be in an inpatient acute care or acute rehab hospital. The applicant is responsible setting up their observation/volunteer experiences. 

  6. Once accepted, students are placed in the next available class. 

The PTA program begins a new cohort of 25 students each Summer Semester. Students enrolled in the Physical Therapist Assistant program will follow a three-semester curriculum of full-time, professional courses taught at the Thornley Campus and at affiliate clinical facilities. Classes include both didactic and laboratory sessions and are usually scheduled Monday through Friday between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. While clinical rotations are during daytime hours, they may require weekend coverage. Once admitted to the program, a PTA student is required to achieve at least a 2.0 GPA on all courses required for the program as well as pass all competencies and critical safety areas. If at any time, a student does not achieve one of the above requirements, he/she will be withdrawn from the program.

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 affiliations – one two-week assignment (during Summer Semester) and two seven-week assignments (one during Fall 2 term and one during Spring 2 term). Each student is required to intern at either a general acute care hospital or acute rehab hospital in the inpatient department for one of the seven-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 responsible for arranging and paying for housing, meals and transportation during these assignments. Lack of transportation will not be a justifiable reason for missing class or clinic.

Insurance: While covered under Trident Technical College’s professional liability insurance, students will be required to purchase additional professional liability insurance due to clinic requirements. In addition, all students must provide proof of major medical health insurance when they first enter the technical phase of the program. Students must maintain coverage throughout the three semesters of the program.

Convictions: Conviction of a crime other than a minor traffic violation can make the student ineligible to take the National Physical Therapy Examination for Physical Therapist Assistants offered by the Federation of State Boards. Any student with concerns should contact the Program Coordinator to discuss the matter.

Program Outcomes

Graduation Rate:

Year

Percent

2019

78.3%

2020

71.4%

NPTE First-Time Pass Rate:

Year

Percent

2019

88.9%

2020

85.7%

NPTE Ultimate Pass Rate:

Year

Percent

2019

94.4%

2020

85.7%

 Employment Rate**:

Year

Percent

2019

84%

2020

data incomplete

**Based on all graduates who passed the NPTE

Additional Program Costs: Student may have additional costs including but not limited to books, supplies, clinic housing/transportation, review course, licensure exam, immunizations, CPR certification which could average ~$5000 in addition to tuition. 

Comments: Individuals who have suggestions or concerns regarding the PTA program, its students or graduates may submit an email to the Program Coordinator at wendy.albano@tridenttech.edu.

Admission Process:

  1. After acceptance to the college, complete a Health Sciences online application.
  2. Successfully complete the ONLINE Information Session
  3. Successfully complete all prerequisite coursework
  4. Complete the required Physical Therapy observation hours.
  5. Be able to perform the essential functions requirement