How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Iowa

Search Physical Therapy Aide Programs

Get information on Physical Therapy Aide programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Search
Iowa map

Physical therapy assistant jobs in Iowa grew by around 38% between 2012 and 2022.

Current predictions see this trend continuing, making the PTA profession one of the most attractive in Iowa for those seeking to help others in a stable market with a good salary.

Search Physical Therapy Aide Programs

Get information on Physical Therapy Aide programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Listings

How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) in Iowa: Step-by-Step

The PTA path in Iowa requires an Associate’s Degree as a Physical Therapist Assistant, a license from the Iowa Board of Physical & Occupational Therapy, and a passing grade on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).

Start a Physical Therapist Assistant Degree Program

Physical therapist assistant programs in Iowa issue Associate of Sciences or Associate of Applied Science degrees.

The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) regulates the curriculum of PTA programs, which typically take two years to complete.

Only courses with this accreditation are valid to become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Iowa.

The only exceptions are similar programs completed abroad, which the Board examines on a case-by-case basis.

Pass the Integrated Clinical Experience

Clinical experience is the final part of the curriculum in all PTA courses in Iowa.

This step typically involves 16 weeks of working full-time at a local institution under the supervision of licensed physical therapists and physical therapist assistants.

The integrated clinical experience is where aspiring PTAs get to employ the lessons learned during the practice course.

Request a Physical Therapist Assistant License

Becoming a licensed PTA in Iowa requires passing the NPTE.

You must apply for a license conditional on examination with the Iowa Board of Physical & Occupational Therapy.

The easiest way to apply is online through the Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals, & Licensing website.

Requirements to complete the application include academic transcripts, fingerprint cards, and a waiver for a background check with the DCI and FBI.

Only after applying for a license with the Board can you sign up to take the NPTE.

Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE)

The NPTE is the national standard for examining the aptitude of an aspiring physical therapy assistant.

The PTA version of the exam has 180 multiple-choice questions split into four sections and lasts four hours.

After the test, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) sends the score to the applicant and the Iowa Board of Physical & Occupational Therapy.

If the grade is over 600 out of 800, the Board issues you with a license.

You can start working as a physical therapy assistant in Iowa!

Physical Therapist Assistant Schools in Iowa

Becoming a Physical Therapy Instagram in Iowa requires a degree accredited by CAPTE.

Six Physical Therapy Assistant programs in Iowa offer Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science degrees.

Hawkeye Community CollegeHawkeye Community College

Length: 2 Years

Cost: $19746 to $20953

Location: Waterloo, IA

Hawkeye Community College offers a two-year program with 640 hours of clinical work, perfect for those who like hands-on experience.

In 2023, 80% of graduates passed the NPTE, of which 100% found a job as a PTA within six months of completing the course.

There is a four-month prerequisite course comprising the basics of Composition, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Psychology, and Medical Terminology, which must be completed before starting the degree program

Indian Hills Community CollegeIndian Hills Community College

Length: 2 Years

Cost: $20702

Location: Ottumwa, IA

The Associate of Applied Science PTA program at Indian Hills Community College is popular in the state.

Entry requirements are competitive, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in high school or previous college education plus an SAT score over 1040, Accuplacer Next Generation Composite over 750, or ACT over 20.

The clinical experience runs for 720 hours, making it one of the most intense in the state.

Kirkwood Community CollegeKirkwood Community College

Length: 2 Years

Cost: $24979

Location: Hiawatha, IA

The PTA course at the Kirkwood Community College in Hiawatha is one of the most modern programs in the state.

Boasting modern facilities and an emphasis on state-of-the-art techniques, admission to the program is conditional on a positive grade on the ATI TEAS test plus a C or higher on the prerequisite course.

All graduates seeking employment in 2021 and 2022 began working as PTAs within a year of completing the course.

Mercy College of Health SciencesMercy College of Health Sciences

Length: 1 Year

Cost: $31581

Location: Des Moines, IA

The PTA program at the Mercy College of Health Sciences is an attractive option for those seeking to fast-track their qualifications.

As an accelerated program, students receive a CAPTE-accredited degree within one year without skimping on quality.

The curriculum crams three semesters into one intense year with few breaks, but the payoff is worth it.

Students must complete the prerequisite course with a GPA at or above 2.8 before starting.

North Iowa Area Community CollegeNorth Iowa Area Community College

Length: 2 Years

Cost: $16303.76

Location: Mason City, IA

The PTA Associate of Applied Science program at North Iowa Area Community College is affordable on a modern campus with excellent facilities.

Admission relies on graduating in the top half of your high school class, having a GPA at or above 3.00, or having an ACT score of 20 or higher.

Aspiring PTAs also must complete 12 documented hours under observation in a physical therapy environment.

Western Iowa Tech Community CollegeWestern Iowa Tech Community College

Length: 2 Years

Cost: $15387

Location: Sioux City, IA

Western Iowa Tech has modern amenities and affordable tuition.

The PTA program does not have blistering statistics, with graduation rates of 73.2% in 2022 and 2023, but things are improving.

Graduates from the 2021 and 2022 classes were employed within a year of passing the NPTE, and 91.7% of 2023 students passed the exam on their first attempt.

Top 6 Schools in Iowa

School NameAddress
Indian Hills Community College525 Grandview Ave, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States
Hawkeye Community College1501 E Orange Rd, Waterloo, IA 50701, United States
Kirkwood Community College6301 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404, United State
Mercy College of Health Sciences928 6th Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309, United States
North Iowa Area Community College 500 College Dr, Mason City, IA 50401, United State
Western Iowa Tech Community College4647 Stone Ave, Sioux City, IA 51106, United States

Physical Therapist Assistant Salary in Iowa

The average salary for a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant in Iowa is $62521 based on data from November 2023.

For reference, the national average is $65401.

Forbes places Iowa as the 8th most affordable state, so this salary goes a long way.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Physical Therapist Assistants in Iowa

City NameSalary
Des Moines$34,100
Cedar Rapids$33,700
Sioux City$30,600
Iowa City$33,500
Council Bluffs$33,300
* Salary information last updated 2024

Regional Salary in Iowa

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Ames, IA30$55,470$26.67$61,940$46,660
Cedar Rapids, IA100$59,530$28.62$68,440$48,340
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL120$58,460$28.11$70,420$47,050
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA210$59,160$28.44$68,770$46,260
Dubuque, IA40$51,670$24.84$64,590$33,880
Iowa City, IA80$59,280$28.5$69,870$49,420
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD50$55,240$26.56$62,000$46,940
Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA60$59,280$28.5$71,410$45,690
* 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

Are Physical Therapist Assistants in demand in Iowa?


The number of PTA openings in Iowa grew 38% from 2012 to 2022, exceeding the national growth projections for the same period.

Can you become a Physical Therapist after graduating as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Iowa?

Yes, but this requires additional training and exams.

How do you become a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant in Iowa?

Earn a PTA degree accredited by CAPTE, then register with the Iowa Board of Physical & Occupational Therapy and pass the NPTE.

Search Programs