How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Florida

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Hey, if you’re interested in helping people while also having an exciting healthcare career, becoming a physical therapy assistant, or PTA, is a great option to consider.

As a PTA, you’ll work with physical therapists to help patients recover from injuries and feel better.

Florida is a wonderful place to do this important job too, since there are many older folks and a busy medical system here.

Let me tell you the steps to becoming a PTA in Florida.

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How to Become a Physical Therapy Assistant in Florida, Step by Step

Educational Requirements

The minimum educational requirement to work as a physical therapist assistant in Florida is earning an associate’s degree from an accredited PTA program, which typically takes two years of full-time study.

Students complete prerequisite courses in subjects like biology, anatomy, psychology, and math before applying.

They can then take academic classes on topics such as kinesiology and therapeutic procedures, along with clinical education, which involves hands-on training under a PT’s supervision in various clinical settings.

Many accredited programs in Florida are offered at community and state colleges around the state, and while an associate’s is sufficient for licensing, some students choose to continue their education and earn a bachelor’s degree.

Licensure Requirements in Florida

Once you finish your degree, it’s time to get licensed to work officially as a PTA.

This means taking and passing the national exam called the NPTE.

You also need to submit your transcripts and fill out paperwork to get approval in Florida.

With your license, you’re good to go for a career!

Clinical Experience in Florida

Hospitals, rehab centers, and clinics are where you’ll get hands-on practice as part of your schooling.

It’s worthwhile because you learn how to help people under the guidance of a mentor.

Seeing different medical settings, like pediatrics and orthopedics, is also interesting.

The experience prepares you well for the working world.

Physical Therapist Assistant Schools in Florida

There are a few great colleges around Florida that offer PTA programs.

Florida Gateway CollegeFlorida Gateway College

Also called FGC, has a program that takes about two years in total.

In the first year, or “Phase 1,” you’ll do your prerequisite classes.

Then, in the last 3 semesters, or “Phase 2,” you focus on physical therapy, plus a clinical rotation at the end.

Tuition and other costs, like books for the whole FGC program, come out to around $12,667.

Eastern Florida State CollegeEastern Florida State College Has a 24-month associate's de

Has a 24-month associate’s degree PTA program that teaches you about preventing injuries and maintaining overall wellness, not just treatment.

Classes include lectures, labs where you practice skills, and clinical experience at real facilities.

Tuition and fees are estimated at $10,000.

The State College of FloridaState College of Florida

In Manatee-Sarasota is a third option.

Their 24-month program covers different areas of physical therapy, so you learn versatility.

Like the other schools, you get academic learning plus applying it during practice placements.

Tuition rates at the State College of Florida are set each year for fall, spring, and summer.

For the typical 2-year associate’s degree, you’d need 60-64 credits.

In-state residents pay around $102-112 per credit hour, depending on whether it’s a lower or upper-level class.

Out-of-state students pay a bit more, like $386-442 per credit hour.

No matter which of these schools you choose, all three will give you a solid education to become a licensed physical therapy assistant through hands-on learning and classroom studying.

Top 3 Schools in Florida

School NameAddress
Florida Gateway College´╗┐149 SE College Pl, Lake City, FL 32025, United States
Eastern Florida State College1519 Clearlake Rd, Cocoa, FL 32922, United States
State College of Florida´╗┐5840 26th St W, Bradenton, FL 34207, United States

Continuing Education in Florida

Maintaining your license as a PTA in Florida means continuing your education even after you graduate.

It is important to keep learning new techniques and staying current on changes in the field of physical therapy.

Florida requires PTAs to participate in ongoing classes, seminars, or other activities.

Some options for continuing education credits include taking extra courses related to your PTA work through a college.

You could also attend workshops held by physical therapy organizations.

These might go over new treatments, equipment updates, or topics like caring for special populations.

Another way is by writing articles for PT publications or by teaching/speaking at conferences.

The goal of continuing education is to always improve your skills and keep assisting patients at your best.

Salary and Career Outlook in Florida

With an aging population and more focus on rehab and movement in Florida, jobs for PTAs are projected to grow nicely here.

Your paycheck will depend a little on your experience level, location, and workplace setting.

PTAs earn approximately $79.972 per year in Florida.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Physical Therapist Assistants in Florida

City NameSalary
St. Petersburg$33,600
Fort Lauderdale$34,200
Pembroke Pines$34,000
* Salary information last updated 2024

Regional Salary in Florida

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL300$66,570$32$88,650$46,700
Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL110$63,060$30.32$75,710$30,060
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL220$62,380$29.99$76,960$48,430
Gainesville, FL120$61,190$29.42$78,000$26,950
Homosassa Springs, FL70$57,380$27.59$71,490$27,410
Jacksonville, FL570$64,320$30.92$79,830$39,910
Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL170$64,970$31.24$80,070$48,950
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL1,780$66,670$32.06$85,330$47,040
Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL120$70,130$33.71$91,430$49,410
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL370$65,190$31.34$82,330$49,850
Ocala, FL100$63,790$30.67$83,310$42,650
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL860$70,960$34.12$93,600$51,050
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL210$64,050$30.79$79,720$45,080
Panama City, FL90$63,410$30.49$81,050$45,760
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL220$64,100$30.82$81,050$48,320
Port St. Lucie, FL180$62,140$29.87$75,080$40,860
Punta Gorda, FL70$64,360$30.94$77,720$42,020
Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL80$65,320$31.41$87,830$51,850
Tallahassee, FL100$61,330$29.49$78,280$45,840
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL1,130$67,720$32.56$81,880$51,950
The Villages, FL50$62,710$30.15$76,020$43,970
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Physical Therapist Assistants, OCC Code 31-2021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the daily responsibilities of a PTA in Florida?

As a PTA, your days will involve helping patients by guiding exercises and movements.

You’ll assist people with regaining abilities like walking, bending, or lifting safely.

PTAs work under a supervisory PT to aid recovery.

Does Florida offer scholarship programs for students in PTA programs?

Yes, Florida offers scholarships through programs like the Florida Student Assistance Grant, which provides funding for eligible students enrolled in eligible PTA programs in the state.

Some community colleges also offer scholarships.

What is the job market like for PTAs in different parts of Florida?

The job outlook tends to be strongest in South Florida and Central Florida due to high demand, while the Panhandle region has a smaller market.

Employment is projected to grow faster than average across the state overall through 2030.

Are physical therapy assistant programs available online in Florida?

While most PTA programs are campus-based, some Florida schools offer hybrid or online options, such as the program at Broward College, which combines online didactic courses with on-campus labs and clinical experiences.

An online degree may provide flexibility.

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