Employment & Licensing


What can I do as a physical therapist assistant (PTA)?

PTAs work with licensed physical therapists to provide treatment for physical injury or disability. Treatments include application of heat, cold, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and massage, as well as training in therapeutic exercise and functional activities. Whatcom Community College's PTA program is particularly successful at training PTAs both locally and across the state.

The PTA program prepares students to work in a variety of settings including:

  • Extended care facilities
  • Health clubs
  • Home health care agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Private practice
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Retirement Communities
  • Schools and other pediatric facilities
  • Sports medicine clinics

Licensing process, costs and pass rate

Be sure you are aware of the PTA licensing requirements in the state where you intend to work. Licensure is required in Washington State for the PTA to practice. Information about the licensing process is included during the final two quarters of the PTA program. Complete information on practice acts and regulations can be obtained from the state licensing boards.

Click here for information from the Washington State Department of Health on licensing requirements, process, costs and interim permits. If you intend to work as a PTA somewhere other than Washington, be sure to check local licensing requirements.

Students who complete the PTA program at WCC receive an Associate in Science in PTA (AS-PTA) degree. Students are then eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE, for Physical Therapist Assistants, which is one requirement for licensure in Washington State. The licensure exam is managed and administered by The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. For the latest information on testing dates, preparation material and comparing testing and licensing pass rates between schools, click here.

Other requirements for licensure include:

  • Graduation from a nationally accredited, board-approved school, such as Whatcom Community College, and
  • A completed licensure application which includes personal data questions, and
  • Proof of at least seven (7) hours of HIV/AIDS training, and
  • Completion of the online jurisprudence examination.

These requirements are submitted to the Department of Health, Board of Physical Therapy for consideration of licensure.

Education and licensing requirements vary between states. Click here for a list of each state's licensing authority and information on licensing requirements and processes.

How much can I earn and what is the employment rate?

In addition to licensing, you should also be aware of wage and employment rates...
 average starting wage Physical therapist assistant (2013, www.careerinfonet.org) employment growth rate (long-term,estimated) 
 Northwest Washington            $17.44 1.8% annually (2011-2021) (Washington Employment Security)
Washington State                     $17.16 2.8% annually ( 2011-2021) (Washington Employment Security)
 National                                    $15.50 41% (2012-2011) (Bureau of Labor and Statistics)  


Graduates of Whatcom's PTA program can expect to be hired within one to three months after licensure. Full-time employment is often more quickly found outside of Whatcom County.

There are career opportunities for advancement and pursuit of specialty interest in the following and other areas:

 obstetrics  rehabilitation
 community health
 sports research

Note: Non-U.S. citizens should check their work Visa status prior to entering the program if they plan to work in the U.S. after graduation.

Further information on employment can be obtained from the Career Center at Whatcom Community College or by contacting the Physical Therapy Association of Washington, Inc. or the American Physical Therapy Association.