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PTA Blog Talk

PTAs, Transcripts and Skills

Published October 13, 2010 8:48 PM by Jason Marketti

Do our transcripts reflect what we know and how we deliver our skills or are they just one way to measure our success with test-taking and rote memory? Several years ago, I met an ATC who challenged the PTA exam. He told me he was a great test-taker and that was why he succeeded at the challenge. Admittedly, he told me he did not know everything there was about being a PTA but the state board thought so and granted him a license. I have also met some PTAs who were aides that challenged the PTA exam successfully. Although in these instances they never attended PTA school, we all ended up with the same license to practice. Can anyone tell who the better practitioner is?

Rightfully so, I would like to say that I am because I went to school to attain my license. However, I have met some PTAs who went to school and they should not have been licensed by the state. I have also met some excellent aides who would make great assistants but were not able to go to school or challenge the state board.

In California, there are several ways to qualify to take the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination by Equivalency. One is military training; this requires numerous hours of technical training and clinical supervision and seems to resemble an abbreviated PTA program. Another way is to take a minimum of 30 semester units of technical training in a variety of areas that relate to anatomy and the sciences, be an aide for 36 months with 18 of those months in acute care, and have 15 semester units of general education.

After successful completion of your licensing exam, you will be a PTA with full privileges just like me. However, your license may not be valid in all 50 states. Some states require a PTA to be a graduate of an accredited program before they will extend a license to you.


I am a chiropractic school graduate but the state of California will not let me challenge the PT assistant board even though I have knowledge and skill building blocks to perform this job well. It's absurd. The reason I'm not practicing as a chiropractor is because it's practically impossible to get a salaried position in it and I'm not able to get a business loan or return to school because of my enormous student loan debt that I never earned enough to make minimum payments.  I think this is all about certain people running the show who are looking to pull in more money, but they shouldn't be oppressing knowledgeable and skilled people.

Edmund Geswein February 17, 2013 11:12 PM
lompoc CA

Does anyone know if I can practice as a PTA in the state of Maine? I have been a PTA in California for 16 years.  I challenged the state boards here in California 16 years ago and am considering moving to Maine.

Sarah, Physical Therapy - PT Assistant, outpatient May 10, 2011 10:09 PM
Los Angeles CA

I happen to be a PTA from CA who obtained their license through the alternative route vs. attending a two year program.  I agree with your statement that some PTAs who have gone to shouldn't be practicing.  Sometimes the difference between some good PTAs and others is how many Continuing Education course were taken to enhance their skills  and their work experience as PT aides before taking the examination.  Proud to be a PTA even though I'm a PT "technician" in another state.

vicki, pta February 28, 2011 11:52 PM

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About this Blog

    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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