How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Tennessee

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Are you contemplating becoming a physical therapist assistant and residing in Tennessee?

If your dream is to help patients recover from injuries, this guide is for you.

PTAs work under the direct supervision of a physical therapist by helping patients regain mobility so they can have a good quality of life.

This guide will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to earn your license as a physical therapist assistant.

It will also give you information on all the required education to jump-start your career.

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How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant in Tennessee (Step by Step)

Here are the required steps to become a physical therapist assistant in Tennessee:

Receive an Associate’s Degree

The first step in becoming a physical therapist assistant in Tennessee is to enroll in an associate’s degree program from an accredited school.

You also have the option of enrolling in a vocational school to earn your degree.

An important tip to remember is that the school or program you choose must be accredited by CAPTE.

CAPTE is otherwise known as the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education.

Some cities in Tennessee that offer these types of programs include Clarksville, Knoxville, Memphis, Harriman, Jackson, Nashville, and several others.

Submit an Application to Receive Your PTA License

Once you have completed step one and earned an associate’s degree, you can move on to step two, which is to submit your application to obtain your license.

This step will give you the okay to take the licensing exam once your application has been approved.

Once you pass the exam, you will receive your license.

Along with your application, the following is also required:

  • A full-face photograph
  • A letter of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • Criminal background check
  • Complete declaration of citizenship form
  • Attach a check for $135 (this covers the license and application fee)
  • Register for the NPTE exam for physical therapy assistants

Take & Pass the NPTE (National Physical Therapy Exam) for PTAs

Once you have sent in all the documents along with your completed application, you must wait to hear back for approval.

Once your application is approved, you can take the National Physical Therapy Exam for PTAs.

You will receive authorization to take this exam from the FSBPT via email.

All instructions will be included.

Some areas offering testing include Clarksville, Nashville, Knoxville, Cordova, and Chattanooga.

There are approximately 200 multiple-choice questions on the exam. The questions cover the following:

  • Metabolic & Endocrine Systems
  • Interventions
  • Physical Therapy Data Collection
  • Genitourinary System
  • Safety & Protection
  • Gastrointestinal System
  • And More

Once the exam has been completed, you will receive your results from the board.

However, you must pass with at least a score of 600. Your license will then be issued to you.

Start Your Career as a PTA

There are several employers in Tennessee where you can apply to work as a physical therapist assistant.

Some areas include hospitals, nursing care facilities, home health care services, and medical centers.

There are various employers where you can test your luck, including:

  • Life Care Centers of America
  • AccentCare, Inc.
  • Heritage Healthcare
  • Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare
  • Kindred Healthcare

Participate in Continuing Education

Working as a licensed PTA means you will still need to participate in continuing education credits to renew your license.

20 hours of continuing education are required in the state of Tennessee every two years.

Here are the board’s requirements for earning your credits:

  • Category 1: 10 hours
  • Category 2: 10 hours
  • Jurisprudence: 2 hours
  • Ethics: 2 hours

You can earn category 1 credits by taking courses, earning university credits, attending seminars, workshops, and more.

You can earn category 2 credits by serving as a clinical instructor, attending in-service programs, participating in a study group, or other activities.

Physical Therapist Assistant Schools in Tennessee

Here are several schools in Tennessee that offer physical therapy assistant programs:

Chattanooga State Community CollegeChattanooga State Community College

2100 Main St l Kimball, TN 37347

Chattanooga State Community College is just one of many schools in Tennessee to offer a PTA program.

Not only is it accredited by CAPTE, but they have a 100% graduation rate.

The program takes two years to complete.

In total, students will pay $12,000 for the program.

The goal of this program is to prepare students for a career in the physical therapy workforce.

Concorde Career College-MemphisConcorde Career College-Memphis

5100 Poplar Ave #132 l Memphis, TN  38137

The PTA program at Concorde Career College takes 20 months to complete.

You will have the opportunity to start your career as a PTA just a little bit sooner compared to other schools in the area.

The total cost of tuition for this program is $14,485.

Jackson State Community CollegeJackson State Community College

2046 North Pkwy l Jackson, TN 38301

Jackson State Community College requires students to meet the necessary admissions requirements to enroll in their PTA program.

The average cost for this program is $2,062.50. In addition, students will need to pay for textbooks, travel expenses, and scrubs.

The program also takes two years to complete.

Top 3 Schools in Tennessee

School NameAddress
Chattanooga State Community College4501 Amnicola Hwy, Chattanooga, TN 37406, United States
Concorde Career College-Memphis5100 Poplar Ave # 132, Memphis, TN 38137, United States
Jackson State Community College2046 North Pkwy, Jackson, TN 38301, United States


Physical therapist assistants can earn anywhere between $53,601 and $65,501 in the state of Tennessee.

Moreover, the actual salary that one will make will depend on various factors, such as certifications, education, skills, and experience.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Physical Therapist Assistants in Tennessee

City NameSalary
Johnson City$55,401
* Salary information last updated 2024

Regional Salary in Tennessee

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Chattanooga, TN-GA240$61,890$29.76$80,340$46,210
Clarksville, TN-KY70$58,760$28.25$83,220$39,850
Johnson City, TN50$60,100$28.9$75,690$45,200
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA100$59,210$28.47$78,080$41,620
Knoxville, TN360$57,000$27.4$76,870$46,790
Memphis, TN-MS-AR480$62,590$30.09$80,050$48,660
Morristown, TN50$60,560$29.11$75,610$46,990
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN510$63,730$30.64$78,560$49,120
* 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 some of the top physical therapist assistant employees in Tennessee?

Here is a list of some employers you can consider working for after receiving your PTA license:

  • Functional Pathways
  • Drayer Physical Therapy Institute
  • Amedisys, Inc.
  • Results Physiotherapy
  • University of Tennessee Medical Center
  • Turkey Creek Medical Center
  • Knoxville Home Health

What are some recognized organizations where I can earn Category 1 or 2 credits for continuing education?

You can earn category 1 or 2 credits from the following organizations:

  • Arthritis Foundation
  • American Physical Therapy Association
  • Daymar Institute
  • Tennessee Physical Therapy Association
  • East Tennessee State University
  • Chattanooga State Technical Community College
  • South College

In what areas does Tennessee pay the most to work as a physical therapist assistant?

While you can find plenty of job opportunities as a PTA in cities including Clarksville, Memphis, and Knoxville, the highest-paying areas to work in are Morristown, Cleveland, and Western Tennessee.

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