Frequently Asked Questions

In order to learn more about the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program at CPCC as well as the PTA profession, please review the frequently asked questions below.


    Q. Is there a time limit for expiration of BIO 168 and BIO 169?

    A. Each BIO class is looked at separately, and each must be less than 5 years old at the start of the program.

    Q. What kind of work does a physical therapist assistant perform?

    A. The physical therapist assistant helps to improve or restore function and alleviate or prevent physical impairments under the supervision of a physical therapist.

    Q. Is the CPCC Physical Therapist Assistant program accredited?

    A. Yes, the Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Central Piedmont Community College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website:

    Q. Where do physical therapist assistants work?

    A. Today, physical therapist assistants provide health care services to patients of all ages and health conditions in a variety of settings, including: outpatient clinics or offices, hospitals, Inpatient rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing, extended care, or subacute facilities, homes, schools, hospices, industrial, workplace, or other occupational environments, and fitness centers and sports training facilities.

    Q. What is the job outlook for physical therapist assistants?

    A. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Physical Therapist Assistant job outlook is much higher than average and is expected to increase by 40% nationwide by 2024 in order to meet the needs of the nation’s aging population. Out of students seeking employment after graduation from our program and earning their licensure, all have found employment in the past three years.

    Q. What does a physical therapist assistant earn?

    A. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for PTAs in 2015 was $42,980 per year ($20.66 per hour)

    Q. What type of degree will I earn?

    A. Upon graduation from the program, a student in the program will earn an Associates in Applied Science-Physical Therapist Assistant degree and will be eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for licensure.

    Q. How long does it take to earn the degree?

    A. It takes five semesters to complete the program.  The first semester consists of general education courses.  PTA program courses begin in the fall after you are admitted to the program and take a total of four semesters to complete.  PTA program courses are not available during the summer session.

    Q. When and where are classes scheduled?

    A. Classes are held on the Central Campus of Central Piedmont Community College in the Health Careers Building.  The PTA Program is offered only full time during the day.

    Q. Can I take PTA courses part time or in the evening?

    A. The PTA program is offered only full time during the day.

    Q. Can I take the PTA courses in any order I prefer?

    A. All the students accepted into the PTA program in any one year progress through the program together.  The courses are offered in a specific order so that each course can build on the information learned in the ones before it.  If you need to leave the program before you complete it, you will have to apply for admission with a new group of students.

    Q. Can I complete the program while working full time?

    A. As far as we know, no one has.  All four clinical affiliations consist of a time commitment of 40 hours a week.  The second fall and spring short session courses require a substantial amount of time in classroom and lab.  The following is based on suggestions developed by one of the CPCC counselors:

    If you work: Then the maximum number of credits
    you should take is:
    10 hours per week 16-18 credits per semester
    20 hours per week 12-13 credits per semester
    30 hours per week 8-10 credits per semester
    40 hours per week 5-8 credits per semester

    Q. What courses do I need to take prior to applying to the Physical Therapist Assistant program?

    A. You do not need to take any college courses prior to applying to the program. However, students benefit from taking as many college courses as possible prior to taking the TEAS test to improve scores. In addition, students admitted into the program benefit from taking as many courses as possible prior to the fall semester due to the heavy content of the program.  Please be aware that BIO 168 must be completed prior to beginning the fall semester, if admitted, and BIO 168 and 169 must have been completed in the 5 years prior to beginning the program.  In addition, all general education courses, medical terminology (MED 120), anatomy and physiology II (BIO 169) and proof of computer competency must be completed by the end of the first fall semester after being admitted in order to progress in the program.

    Q. What are the general education requirements for the program?

    A. Students must take the following General Education courses:

    • ENG 111
    • ENG 112, 113, or 114
    • MAT 110 or higher (Please note that MAT 110 will not transfer to another college or university for credit)
    • PSY 150
    • COM 110*, 120, or 230 (Please note that COM 110 will not transfer to another college or university for credit)

    In addition to general education courses, student must also take:

    • BIO 168
    • BIO 169
    • MED 120


      More information about courses required in the Physical Therapist Assistant program can be found in the Courses portion of our website.

      Q. If I already have a degree, do I still need to take the general education courses and the TEAS test?

      A. Yes. ALL applicants must take the required general education courses as part of the associate degree requirements and ALL applicants must take the TEAS test for admissions into the program.  You may, however, have all of the general education courses completed, but must have your transcripts submitted to student records so that they may be evaluated. We do not know what or how the courses transfer to CPCC until the transcripts are evaluated.

      Q. Will I receive extra points for admission into the program if I already have a degree?

      A. No.

      Q. Will I get hands-on training?

      A. Included in the curriculum are four clinical education courses beginning in the second fall semester.   Students spend 40 hours per week in clinical facilities during those courses to practice learned skills under the supervision of a PT or PTA.

      Q. Will I get paid for clinical affiliations?

      A. Individual clinicians take on the job of converting your classroom knowledge to the ability to care for their clients in health care facilities.  They generously offer time and expertise to students but do not receive any financial reward for their efforts.  The students’ education is not complete without this exposure to real patients.  No, you don’t get paid either.

      Q. What happens if I do poorly in a course?

      A. Students in the program, must achieve a grade of 74% or greater in program courses.  If the final course grade drops below 74%, the student will not be allowed to progress through the program.  Students may apply for re-entry to the program after failure from the program.  However, students may only re-enter the program one time.

      Q. What is the cost of the Physical Therapist Assistant program?

      A. For students who are in-state, the total approximate cost without general education courses is $8,600.00 and with general education courses is $11,600.00.

      For students who are out of state, the approximate cost without general education courses is $19,200.00 and with general education courses is $26,800.00.

      For Scholarship Information, please see Program Costs and Scholarships

      Q. Why do students admitted to the Physical Therapist Assistant program need to have a criminal background check and drug screen?

      A. A criminal background check and drug screen are requirements of the clinical facilities utilized in clinical education and must be completed prior to placement at clinical sites.

      Q. Am I too old to start a new career?

      A. Currently the average age of students in the PTA Program is 31, and the age of our students ranges from 19 to 52.

      Q. Once I earn my Physical Therapist Assistant degree, may I begin work as a PTA?

      A. You must first take and pass a national licensing exam to become licensed prior to working as a PTA.

      Licensure is required in North Carolina and most states in the US.  You will be granted licensure if you graduate from an accredited program, such as the one at CPCC, are of good moral character, and receive a passing score on the national licensure examination.

      It is the job of this program to present you with the information required to pass the licensure exam.

      Q. Will you place me in a job after I graduate?

      A. No, we do not offer a job placement service.  We will, however, make you aware of the many job opportunities presented to us by employers as well as other job search avenues that are open to licensed PTAs.

      Q. If I am interested in applying to CPCC's Physical Therapist Assistant program, what is my next step?

      A. All students need to complete the CPCC application and submit appropriate documents for admissions to CPCC before applying to the PTA program. Once the application has been submitted and accepted, a student can apply to the PTA program. Select the appropriate link below to Get Started.


      Q. What are the criminal background check and drug screen requirements?

      A. Criminal Background Check and Drug screen: All accepted students are required to undergo a criminal background check and drug screen. Procedural information concerning these requirements will be provided upon acceptance.

      • Note: Criminal background checks (CBCs) and drug screens are required by clinical agencies/healthcare systems. If a student is refused access to clinical experiences because of a positive CBC or drug screen, the student will be unable to complete the clinical component of the course. Inability to complete the clinical requirements will result in a failure to progress in the program.

      Under North Carolina law some people with criminal backgrounds may be eligible for an expunction to remove charges or convictions from their record. If you would like to know whether or not you are eligible, contact Single Stop at 704.330.2722 ext.: 6435 or email to schedule a legal consultation. To learn more about expunctions, explore the NC Justice Center’s guide.