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Physical Therapist Assistant - Associate in Applied Science

pta students with instructor Mike Spitz

If you are innovative, a people person, have a desire to help others and an interest in rehabilitation, consider a career as a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA).

Every day, more than 750,000 people in the United States receive physical therapy, according to the American Physical Therapy Association. PTAs work as part of a team to provide services under the direction of a physical therapist.

PTAs help people of all ages who are recovering from an illness or injury or have conditions that limit their ability to move and function in their daily lives. They also help prevent the worsening of symptoms and injuries.

PTAs work in hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health, nursing homes, schools and sports facilities. Our graduates are employed throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond, including at all of the major health systems in the area.

A typical day for a PTA might include 8-12 hours of hands-on patient care that may include teaching patients exercise for mobility, strength and coordination, training for activities such as walking with crutches, canes or walkers, massage and the use of physical agents and electrotherapy such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation.

About the program

The CAPTE (Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education) accredited Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Delta College takes two years to complete. Registration and acceptance into the PTA program occurs each Fall. Graduates will be ready for employment as a PTA immediately after graduation and successful completion of the licensing exam.

Students must complete prerequisites (see Program Details and Requirements), observation hours, a validation process and additional steps through the Registrar for entry into the program.

Licensure pass rates and program completion rates for Delta College students are very high. Employment rates in 2013-2014 are 100 percent.

Job outlook

The need for physical therapist assistants is expected to grow by 26 percent in Michigan and 41 percent nationwide from 2012 through 2022, largely due to the needs of an older population and the growing rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity. The average yearly earnings for a PTA is $43,740 in Michigan and $54,410 nationally.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What students are saying

"I chose the PTA program because I knew I loved working with people. I knew it would be a rewarding career helping others get better and get the very best out of their lives despite their illness and/or injury. I love the Delta program because the instructors are passionate about what they do! It is a very close-knit group where you get a lot of 1-on-1 learning experiences."
- Kassie Nichole Goss

Find out more

Have questions or want more information? View our frequently asked questions or contact:

Chris Hausbeck
PTA program coordinator
Health and Wellness Division
989-686-9316; Office F263

Physical Therapist Assistant - Associate in Applied Science

Program Code: AAS.20573

Delta’s program is for the training of Physical Therapist Assistants only. If you are planning to become a Physical Therapist, you should follow the Pre-Physical Therapy program guide and meet with a counselor.

As a Physical Therapist Assistant, you will work under the direction and supervision of Physical Therapists. Such settings include: acute care hospitals, rehabilitation centers, school systems, nursing homes, home care, out-patient facilities, private clinics, and specialty clinics. As a graduate of this program, you will be able to carry out patient treatment programs designed by the Physical Therapist that utilize heat, cold, light, sound, massage, therapeutic exercise, aquatics, manual therapy, and rehabilitation procedures. This program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Option A - Regular Track (Students can take and complete these validation courses at their own pace.)

General Education Prerequisite Courses-Option A

CourseCreditsCourse TitleCompleted
BIO 140W5Essentials Of Human Anatomy & Physiology ______________
OR ______________
BIO 152W(4)Human Anatomy & Physiology I AND ______________
BIO 153W(4)Human Anatomy & Physiology II ______________
OR ______________
BIO 240(4)Human Anatomy AND ______________
BIO 241(4)Physiology ______________
COM 114W3Interpersonal Communication ______________
ENG 1113College Composition I ______________
HSC 1052Medical Terminology ______________
POL ---3/4Any Approved American Government Requirement ______________
PSY 101W3Applied Psychology OR ______________
PSY 211W(4)General Psychology ______________

Option B - Accelerated Track (Students must take these validation courses in one semester.)

General Education Prerequisite Courses-Option B

CourseCreditsCourse TitleCompleted
BIO 140W5Essentials Of Human Anatomy & Physiology ______________
COM 114W3Interpersonal Communication ______________
ENG 1113College Composition I ______________
HSC 1052Medical Terminology ______________
POL ---3/4Any Approved American Government Requirement ______________
PSY 101W3Applied Psychology ______________

Prior to attempting to register to begin the clinical sequence, you must complete the above courses and the "Validation Application." See Validation Procedures in this catalog for the required process. Clinical Program Course Sequence

Semester 1 (Fall)

CourseCreditsCourse TitleCompleted
ENG 1133Technical Communication ______________
LW 206A1Occupational Wellness 1 ______________
PTA 1012Applied Clinical Anatomy I ______________
PTA 101LW1Applied Clinical Anatomy I Lab ______________
PTA 1052Physical Agents I ______________
PTA 105LW1Physical Agents I Lab ______________
PTA 1102Fundamentals of Patient Mobility ______________
PTA 110L1Fundamentals of Patient Mobility Lab ______________

Semester 2 (Winter)

CourseCreditsCourse TitleCompleted
LWA 206B0.5Occupational Wellness 2 ______________
PTA 1022Clinical Neuroanatomy ______________
PTA 1202Orthopedic Rehabilitation ______________
PTA 120L1Orthopedic Rehabilitation Lab ______________
PTA 1211Human Development I - Topics in Pediatrics ______________
PTA 123W2.5Clinical Medicine ______________
PTA 123LW0.5Clinical Medicine Lab ______________
PTA 1242PTA Clinic I ______________
PTA 1251Applied Clinical Anatomy II ______________
PTA 125LW1Applied Clinical Anatomy II Lab ______________

Semester 3 (Fall)

CourseCreditsCourse TitleCompleted
LWA 206C0.5Occupational Wellness 3 ______________
PTA 2050.5Physical Agents II ______________
PTA 205L0.5Physical Agents II Lab ______________
PTA 2090.5Fundamentals of Pediatric Rehabilitation ______________
PTA 209L0.5Fundamentals of Pediatric Rehabilitation Lab ______________
PTA 2102Neuro-Rehabilitation Techniques ______________
PTA 210LW1Neuro-Rehabilitation Techniques Lab ______________
PTA 2130.5Orthotics and Prosthetics ______________
PTA 213L0.5Orthotics and Prosthetics Lab ______________
PTA 214W3PTA Clinic 2 ______________
PTA 216W1Introduction to Evidence Based Practice ______________
PTA 2222Human Development II - Topics in Geriatrics ______________

Semester 4 (Winter)

CourseCreditsCourse TitleCompleted
PTA 2212Clinical Seminar ______________
PTA 224W9PTA Clinic 3 ______________
PTA 2251Topics in Manual Therapy ______________

70/75Total Credits Required For Associates Degree (option A)
70/71Total Credits Required For Associates Degree (option B)


1 - Registration and acceptance into the PTA program occurs each Fall. Anticipated enrollment capacities can be found on the validation chart. The procedures for application into the PTA Program are in the guidelines for validation. See Validation Procedures in this catalog for required process.
2 - Prerequisite qualifications for validation are: high school graduate or GED equivalent; provide transcripts from high school and all other colleges attended; be admitted to Delta College; completion with a B (3.0) minimum grade in: BIO 140 or BIO 152 and BIO 153 or BIO 240 and BIO 241; and completion with a "C" (2.0) minimum grade in ENG 111, HSC 105, PSY 101 or PSY 211, and COM 114, and complete 40 hours of observation time to apply for validation.
3 - Physical Therapist Assistant courses are offered day and evening hours and must be taken in the sequence shown. There may be occasional weekend courses, as well, that are mandatory.
4 - You must achieve a minimum C (2.0) grade in each Physical Therapist Assistant course to be eligible to continue in the program.
5 - In addition to tuition, fees, and textbook costs, you must purchase appropriate lab attire, name tags, provide your transportation to clinical settings, possible hospital parking charges, and field trips.
6 - Upon admission to the program, you must have a complete physical examination including a negative TB test or a physician’s release form annually.
7 - Current CPR for Health Care Provider certification is required upon successful enrollment in the PTA program. Current CPR certification must be maintained throughout the program.
8 - Proof of Hepatitis B vaccination or signed waiver and proof of current flu vaccination is required for admission to clinical sequence.
9 - An observation series is required prior to validation. Students must observe, at a minimum, two different PT’s or PTA’s performing their skills in two different clinical practice sites for a minimum of 40 hours. These observations must be documented on the Observation Form which is available on the PTA program website or can be picked up in the Counseling Office. These forms must be stamped at the Registrar's office at the time the validation application is turned in. Once the form has been stamped it must be turned in to the PTA Program Coordinator.
10 - You need to be aware that clinical hospital assignments may be outside the local area. Students must be prepared to commute up to two hours for at least one rotation.
11 - Student Reentry Procedures are printed in the handbook given to all clinical students.
12 - Criminal background checks are required to participate in clinical experiences. There is a fee for the criminal background check. Any student with a previous or current felony/misdemeanor conviction must inform the PTA Program Coordinator of said conviction. Students should be aware that a felony/misdemeanor conviction may constitute grounds for ineligibility to sit for the PTA licensure examination. Students should be aware that the current licensure application form now requires that a criminal background check requiring fingerprinting be completed. Questions regarding licensure can be found at http://www.michigan/gov/healthlicense
13 - Students may complete the program in five (5) semesters by taking all General Education courses in Option B during one semester.
14 - Also see "Dual Degrees."
15 - You will be eligible to attempt to register for clinical courses only after successfully completing the prerequisite qualifications and receiving a “Semester and Year of Validation”.
16 - Any Approved American Government, POL ---, course must be completed with a "C" (2.0) minimum grade prior to graduation but is not required for validation.
17 - Students must have completed BIO 140 or BIO 152/BIO 153W or BIO 240/BIO 241 within the past ten years. If this time period is exceeded, an approved biology course must be taken to refresh this content. Please see the PTA Program Coordinator to determine which course(s) must be taken.
18 - ENG 113 Technical Communication must be taken while in the PTA program. If ENG 113 is taken prior to entering the PTA program the sudent will need to repeat the course. ENG 113 taken within the program will focus on writing skill/requirements within the PTA discipline.

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