Physical Therapist Assistant

Physical Therapist Assistant Program photo

Physical Therapist Assistant Profile

The physical therapist assistant (PTA) is a technically educated health provider who assists the physical therapist (PT) in the provision of physical therapy and may perform physical therapy interventions selected by the supervising PT.  The PTA works under the direction and supervision of the PT, helping manage conditions such as back and neck injuries, sprains/strains and fractures, arthritis, burns, amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, birth defects, injuries related to work and sports, and others.

PTA’s work in a broad range of settings.  Employment opportunities for PTA’s are located in hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing, sub acute, and long-term care facilities, home health agencies, schools, hospice, industrial health clinics, community health centers, fitness centers and sports training facilities, and colleges and universities.

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average yearly salary for experienced PTA’s at $19 per hour in the year 2015.   Blackhawk Graduate Surveys indicate that the starting wages for entry-level Blackhawk Physical Therapist Assistant graduates is approximately $20-$26 per hour and rising. Wages for experienced Physical Therapist Assistants are more.


The need for PTA’s continues to grow.  The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics states “Employment of physical therapist assistants is expected to increase 46 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.”  In the future  the demand for PTA’s will continue to rise due to the number of individuals with disabilities, the rapid growing elderly population, and the large baby boom generation entering prime age for needing increased health care. 


Prospective Students

Admission to the PTA Program is a two-step process:

1. Apply for admission to the college

Note to WCTC district residents:  Although Blackhawk Technical College is the admitting institution for the PTA program, WCTC residents should submit their PTA application packet to the WCTC Admissions Office, 800 Main St, Pewaukee, WI 53072.  A complete application packet includes: application for admission, transcripts- high school and college, and pre-admission test scores.  Contact WCTC Academic Advisor-Allied Health, Lauri Fialkowski, at 262-691-5201 for questions about the PTA application process.

2. Petition for entry into the PTA Core Clinical Courses  You must first be admitted to the college before you can petition.  After admission to the college, students interested in beginning the core courses in the PTA program must petition during specified petition dates.  All students MUST attend a petition information meeting for the year petitioning.  Students will not be eligible to petition unless they have attended a meeting.  The meetings will highlight the new PTA selection process and will be conducted by PTA and Student Services staff.

Program Description

The five semester, two-year program begins in Aug each year. Graduates receive an Associate of Applied Science Degree. The total cost of tuition and fees for five semesters is approximately $9,867. Average semester textbook and supply cost is $250. State licensure is required for the PTA in Wisconsin. Blackhawk graduates traditionally score higher on the national examination as compared to students testing from all other accredited schools. The cost of the national examination is approximately $550.  A Caregiver Background Check is required for the clinical portion of the program. Persons with previous felony convictions are not eligible for licensure or credentialing.

Program Accreditation

The PTA program is currently accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education until 2021.

Program Mission

The mission of the BTC Associate Degree PTA program is to prepare qualified PTA’s, as defined in the Wisconsin Physical Therapy Practice Act and in accordance with the standards of the American Physical Therapy Association, for employment in the healthcare community.

Program Goal

The goal of the BTC Associate Degree PTA program is to fulfill the program mission through the achievement of the program outcomes.

Program Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate clear and collaborative communication with patients, families, and the health care team
  2. Exhibit behaviors and conduct that reflect respect and sensitivity according to physical therapy practice standards
  3. Function under the supervision of a physical therapist in a safe, legal ethical manner to ensure the safety of patients, self, and others throughout the clinical interaction
  4. Produce documentation to support the delivery of physical therapy services
  5. Demonstrate critical thinking skills to implement and modify treatment within a plan of care under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist.
  6. Perform data collection essential for carrying out the plan of care under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist
  7. Perform technically competent evidence-based interventions under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist
  8. Educate patients, families and other health care providers
  9. Integrate components of operational and fiscal practices of physical therapy service in a variety of settings
  10. Implement a self-directed plan for career development, credentials and lifelong learning

Clinical Experiences

There are three clinical courses required in the PTA program.  The first course is in the spring, or second semester of the first year, and is one day per week.  The second course is in the fall, or first semester of the second year, and is two days per week.  The final experience is in the second semester of the second year and is a full-time experience for eight weeks. Clinical education sites are located within a 90-mile radius of the school.  These clinical experiences encompass a variety of settings.  The program aims to expose each student to as many physical therapy services as possible, providing a well-rounded clinical education.

Courses Required Prior to Beginning the Petition Process

  • General Anatomy and Physiology 806-177
  • Survey of Physics 806-139
  • College Mathematics 804-107
  • Written Communications 801-195
  • Oral Communications 801-196

Program Statistics (Two Year Average)

  • Graduation Rate 2015-2016: 77%
  • FSBPT Exam Pass Rate 2015-2016: 96%
  • Employment within Six Months of Graduation 2015-2016: 100%