PTA Schools in San Diego: A Comprehensive Guide

Physical therapy assistants (PTAs) are healthcare professionals who work alongside physical therapists to help patients recover from injuries, illnesses, and surgeries. PTAs assist with exercises, stretches, massages, and other activities that promote strength, flexibility and mobility. They also document patient progress, communicate with other healthcare professionals and provide emotional support to patients during their recovery journey.

PTA Schools in San Diego: A Comprehensive Guide

If you’re interested in becoming a PTA in San Diego, then this guide is for you. In this article, we’ll explore the various PTA schools in San Diego that offer accredited programs along with program requirements and career options.

Accredited PTA Programs Offered by San Diego Schools

There are several schools in San Diego that offer accredited PTA programs. Accreditation is essential because it ensures that the program meets certain standards set by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Here are some of the top schools with accredited PTA programs:

Southwestern College

Southwestern College located in Chula Vista has one of the most reputable PTA programs in San Diego. The program consists of 69 credits which can be completed over five semesters. Students take classes in anatomy & physiology, kinesiology, therapeutic exercise as well as clinical courses like rehabilitation procedures.

At Southwestern College’s PTA program students benefit from state-of-the-art labs and simulation equipment that provides real-life scenarios for practical training. The college also offers flexible course scheduling options making it easier for working students to balance their studies & work schedules.

Mesa Community College

Mesa Community College located in San Diego offers another renowned PTA program which consists of 78 credit hours taken over six semesters. Courses covered include human anatomy & physiology along with therapeutic interventions such as therapeutic exercise & manual techniques.

Students at Mesa Community College also gain practical experience through clinical internships at local hospitals or outpatient clinics where they work with patients under the supervision of licensed physical therapists.

San Diego Mesa College

San Diego Mesa College offers a 70-credit hour PTA program that is spread over four semesters. Students take classes in anatomy & physiology, pharmacology as well as therapeutic intervention courses. The program incorporates hands-on training in simulated lab environments and real-life clinics where students get to experience working alongside experienced PTs.

Requirements for Admission into PTA Programs in San Diego

To be admitted into any of the accredited PTA programs offered by San Diego schools, you need to meet several requirements. These typically include:

  • High school diploma or GED: Most institutions require applicants to have a high school diploma or equivalent (GED) certificate.
  • Prerequisite courses: Applicants must have completed certain prerequisite courses such as human anatomy & physiology, biology and chemistry.
  • Minimum GPA: Most institutions require applicants to have a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.5 or above.
  • Background check & drug screening: Applicants may be required to undergo background checks and drug screening before being accepted into the program.

It’s essential to research each institution’s admission requirements before applying to ensure that you meet all their requirements.

Career Options for PTA Graduates in San Diego

One of the reasons many students choose PTA programs is because of the promising career prospects in the field. PTAs may work in various healthcare settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, private clinics or sports medicine centers.

According to a recent survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are over 90,000 working physical therapy assistants in the US earning a median annual salary of $48,990 per year. In California alone, there are over 7,000 working PTAs earning an average hourly rate of $28.50 an hour.

Some popular employers for PTAs in San Diego include Kaiser Permanente, Scripps Health, and UC San Diego Health. Additionally, PTAs can also choose to work as travel therapists or locum Tenens where they can travel to different states or countries for temporary assignments.


Physical therapy assistants play an essential role in helping patients recover from injuries, illnesses & surgeries. If you’re considering a career as a PTA in San Diego, then this guide will help you kickstart your journey. Be sure to research each institution’s admission requirements before applying and choose one that best fits your schedule & goals. With dedication and hard work, you’ll soon be on your way to an exciting career helping others regain their mobility & health.


What are the top PTA schools in San Diego?

The top PTA schools in San Diego include Southwestern College, San Diego Mesa College, and San Diego City College. These schools have exceptional programs that offer a comprehensive education for aspiring PTAs.

What are the requirements to become a licensed PTA in San Diego?

To become a licensed PTA in San Diego, you must complete an accredited PTA program, pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE), and obtain state licensure by meeting specific requirements.

How long does it take to complete a PTA program in San Diego?

Generally, it takes around two years to complete a PTA program in San Diego. However, some schools offer accelerated programs that can be completed in as little as 18 months.

What is the job outlook for PTAs in San Diego?

The job outlook for PTAs in San Diego is positive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of PTAs is projected to grow 31% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Can I transfer credits from another school’s PTA program to a school in San Diego?

It depends on the school’s transfer policies and accreditation status. You should contact the school you’re interested in attending to discuss your options and see if they accept transfer credits from other institutions.

Are there online PTA programs available in San Diego?

Yes, there are online PTA programs available in San Diego. However, it’s important to make sure that any online program you consider is accredited, as this is necessary for licensure and employment eligibility.

What kind of courses do PTA programs cover?

Typical courses within a PTA program cover areas such as anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, physical therapy interventions, and patient care. Students also participate in clinical rotations to gain hands-on experience.

How much can I expect to make as a licensed PTA in San Diego?

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for PTAs in California was $64,450 as of May 2020. However, this can vary depending on factors like years of experience, location, and employer type.

What qualities should I possess to excel as a PTA?

To excel as a PTA, you should have strong interpersonal skills, be compassionate and patient-centered in your approach to care, be detail-oriented and organized when managing patient records and treatment plans, and have an interest in continual learning as new modalities and technologies evolve.

Can I specialize in a particular area of physical therapy as a licensed PTA in San Diego?

Yes, it’s possible to specialize in areas such as pediatrics or geriatrics within the scope of practice for licensed PTAs. Continuing education courses can provide additional training in these areas. However, the specific duties that a PTA is allowed to perform are ultimately determined by state regulations.

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