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Task Analysis for PTAs

Frequently Asked Questions


Is the physical therapist assistant program at MCCC an accredited program?

  • Yes,  The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, NJ is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; telephone: (703) 706-3245: email: website:

Is a physical therapist assistant program a starter program for someone who wants to be a physical therapist?

  • NO, The physical therapist assistant is a healthcare worker who is educated to work directly with patients under the supervision of a physical therapist as part of a team, not a succession.
  • If someone wants to become a physical therapist, he or she should start out pursuing that goal, perhaps with an undergraduate degree in Biology.
  • If you wanted to become a physician, you would start out pursuing medical school, not nursing school.

What is the difference between a physical therapist and a physical therapist assistant?

  • A physical therapist is academically prepared at the Master's level and will be at the doctoral level by the year 2020, consistent with the needs of the profession and decisions made by the American Physical Therapy Association, which is the policy making body for the profession. The physical therapist initially examines and evaluates a patient to establish a physical therapy diagnosis, short & long term goals, and a treatment plan. This plan may be delegated to the physical therapist assistant who may have contributed to the evaluation by providing measurements or results from tests.
  • The physical therapist assistant works under the direct on-site supervision of the physical therapist to carry out the established treatment plan and delegated physical therapy interventions, progressing patients within that plan, documenting patient progress and communicating with the supervising physical therapist regarding the progress of the patients in his or her care.
  • Ultimate responsibility for the care of the patient rests with the physical therapist.

What would a "Day in the Life of a PTA" be like?

  • That's an interesting question that is perhaps best answered by a visit to a clinical site to observe a PTA "in action." If that's not possible, you might enjoy viewing this YouTube clip of a PTA who is employed in Oregon. He's not an alumnus of the MCCC PTA program but his experiences are representative of what it's like to be a PTA. Click on this link:  A day in the life

Are physical therapist assistants licensed?

  • YES and NO dependent upon the state, most physical therapist assistants are required by statute to be licensed. This is an individual state regulated law. Some states require registration and some require certification.
  • New Jersey requires that Physical Therapist Assistants be licensed in order to practice physical therapy under the direct on site supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

What education do you need to be a physcial therapy aide?

  • There is NO specific educational requirement to become a physical therapy aide. This is an "on the job training" type of employment, but does not involve any patient contact.
  • The following document prepared by the American Physical Therapy Assocation (APTA) provides and explanation for each of the different degrees, designators and other credentials that might be found after a physical therapy clinician's name. Understanding Physical Therapy Degrees

If I already have a college degree can I just start the Professional Phase ahead of others?

  • No, there are required prerequisite courses for everyone and it's not uncommon for candidates to come to Mercer's PTA program having already earned another degree.  
  • Degrees Earned Prior Entering the PTA Professional Phase

    Graduating Classes




















    BS/ BA










    MS/ MA










    Cert. in Massage*









    total with prior college degrees










    *Massage is not counted in total

Are the courses offered in the day or the evening?

  • Mercer's PTA program is designed as a full time day program. However; you may take the general education courses during whatever times work for your schedule. It is recommended that you consult the program Degree Requirements (curriculum) page which will outline exactly when each of the courses is offered.
  • PTA 101 Intro to PTA is offered both online or in the evening and there is also an evening section of PTA 112 Pathology but the other PTA specific courses are offered during the day.

Can any of the courses be taken as online courses?

  • YES, PTA 105 Kinesiology has been developed as an online course. It's offered in the fall and spring semesters in addition to being offered as a traditional course.
  • Many of the general education courses are also available as online courses through MCCC.
  • The MCCC PTA program faculty members have been developing additional online courses however the majority of the PTA curriculum is offered in a traditional format.

Is there anything else that I should know that would help me with the Application Process?

  • Remember that there is a time limit for some of the courses so when applying for the PTA program, be sure to check when you took prerequisite courses. All 8 credits of Anatomy & Physiology must have successfully been completed at the same academic institution within the past 5 years with grades of C+ or higher BEFORE you will be able to apply for the professional phase!
  • Register for a course at Mercer as soon as possible to establish your semester of first matriculation at Mercer and also to establish a GPA at Mercer
  • PTA 105 MUST have been successfully completed through Mercer to be considered eligible for the Professional Phase.
  • Carefully read and follow the process listed on the Application for the Professional Phase of the PTA program.
    • If official copies of transcripts have already been submitted, but courses that you thought would receive transfer credit do not appear on the Mercer transcript, then make sure to follow-up. Forward a link to the course(s) in question to the PTA program coordinator so the content for the course(s) can be reviewed. Sometimes course titles alone are not enough to determine what the content of the course covers. A link to the course description and syllabus is very helpful. Following up with this is the applicant's responsibility.

When does the professional phase of the PTA program start?

  • The professional phase starts each summer following the successful completion of BIO 103 and BIO 104 with a grade of "C+" or higher and the successful completion of PTA 105 Kinesiology with a grade of C+ or higher. (PTA program Degree Requirements)
  • PTA 105 MUST be taken at Mercer and cannot be transferred into Mercer from another institution.

What is the deadline for enrollment into the PTA program?

  • Mercer is an open enrollment institution however; if you have completed the first column of the curriculum worksheet, you must complete a Application to Commence the Professional Phase of the PTA program form and submit it before February 28th. The forms must be submitted to one of the Executive Administrative Assistants in MS 128.

What is the average age of PTA students?

  • PTA student/learners are usually older than what people consider to be" traditional" community college students. Our average age student/learner for the past 20 classes has been approximately 30. The class entering the Professional Phase of the PTA program for the summer of 2017 is an average of 35 years of age!
  • Most of our student/learners come to PTA as a second career choice because the individual has decided that helping people is what is most important to him or her. This makes our student/learners highly motivated, supportive of each other and talented at juggling life and academics. Most of our student/learners come to us with strong time management and multi-tasking skills.
  • Additionally, most of our student/learners come to us with "life experience" and the ability to handle the daily stresses that families can present while attending classes. We have found that our student/learners have experienced a strong sense of community through the PTA program courses.
  • Many of our student/learners come to Mercer with other college degrees "under their belts." The current class is no exception with 60% of the class already having at least one college degree prior to starting the professional phase of the PTA program at Mercer.

Is there job placement following graduation from the PTA program?

  • No, there is no formal job placement following graduation. However; many of our graduates have received job offers during clinical affiliations.
  • 100% of our graduates who have sought employment as PTAs following successful completion of the program and the licensure exam have found employment as PTAs within 6 months of graduation. (1998-2013)
  • MCCC offers a free service for posting resume's and searching for employment for all MCCC graduates at

What is the job outlook for gainful employment as PTAs?

  • There is a demand for PTAs in the present health care arena. PTAs are employed in hospitals, private practices, extended care facilities, pediatric facilities, rehabilitation hospitals and numerous other settings.
  • The need for PTAs is projected to be strong through the next 5 -10 years based upon the aging population and increased demand for healthcare.
  • For general information regarding the PTA, you can click here for a link to the BLS website Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What is the average starting salary for PTAs?

  • Starting salaries vary greatly depending upon the type of practice setting, and whether or not the position is a per deim position without benefits or a full time position with benefits. However; for the MCCC PTA class of 2010, the average starting salary was approximately $50,000.

Who can help me with advisement during the pre-professional phase of the PTA program?

  •  "The pre-professional phase of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program focuses on the criteria for official program admission, including coursework and any other requirements.  For information/questions on the pre-professional phase of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, please contact:"

Cindy Matyas, M.Ed.

Health Professions Coordinator


(609) 570-3596


How do I apply to the PTA Program?

  • Complete an application form to Mercer County Community College and select Health Science AAS PTA as your "major" or course of study. Part of the application process involves requesting official copies of your transcripts from whatever other academic institutions you previously attended so that they may be reviewed for potential transfer credits into Mercer. You can complete an application online at or by going to the admissions office at either the West Windsor or James Kerney  (Trenton) campuses.
  • Email Holly Kaiser, the PTA Program Coordinator & Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education to help answer your questions and set up a plan for your courses.