Physical therapy assistant (PTA) programs are educational programs that prepare individuals to work under the supervision of licensed physical therapists.

PTAs assist physical therapists in delivering patient care, including exercises, therapeutic modalities, and other interventions.

They also help with patient evaluations, progress tracking, and documenting treatment plans. PTA programs typically take two years to complete and award an associate’s degree.

Accredited Physical Therapy Assistant Programs

After completing the program and passing the National Physical Therapy Examination for Physical Therapist Assistants, graduates are eligible to become licensed PTAs.

  • Physical Therapy Assistant Courses

PTA programs typically include a mix of classroom instruction and clinical experience.

Classroom instruction covers anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology, while clinical experience provides students hands-on training in real-world settings.

Some standard courses found in PTA programs include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology: This course covers the structure and function of the human body and is a foundation for understanding how physical therapy can help individuals recover from injuries and illnesses.
  • Kinesiology: This course studies the mechanics of human movement and is essential for understanding how the body works and how physical therapy can help improve movement and function.
  • Rehabilitation Techniques: This course covers the various techniques used in physical therapy, including exercises, stretches, and manual therapy.
  • Patient Care: This course covers the basics of patient care, including communication, documentation, and ethics.

PT Assistant Programs | Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for physical and online PTA programs vary by school, but most programs require that applicants have a high school diploma or equivalent.

This is because PTA programs typically award an associate’s degree and are considering post-secondary education.

A high school diploma or equivalent is generally considered a prerequisite for post-secondary education and is required to be eligible for most PTA programs.

In addition to a high school diploma or equivalent, some programs may require applicants to complete specific prerequisite courses before enrolling.

These prerequisite courses may include anatomy and physiology, which provide students with a foundation of knowledge and understanding of the human body and its functions.

  • What More? 

These courses are essential for students who wish to pursue a career as a PTA, as they will be working with patients with a wide range of physical conditions.

Furthermore, some programs may require applicants to pass an entrance exam or a background check. This ensures that students have the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the program and ensure patient safety.

The entrance exam may test applicants’ knowledge of math, science, and English and their understanding of basic medical terminology and concepts.

Background checks are also crucial, as many PTA programs require clinical hours. Thus they want to ensure that their students have no criminal records.

Career Paths

Physical therapy assistants (PTAs) typically work under the supervision of physical therapists (PTs) in various settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and private practices.

PTAs typically work with patients who have been injured or have a medical condition that affects their ability to move and function.

One of the most common career paths for PTAs is working in a clinical setting, such as a hospital or rehabilitation center.

In these settings, PTAs work with recovering from surgeries, injuries, or illnesses and help them regain their strength and mobility.

PTAs often work with patients of all ages and various conditions, such as back pain, arthritis, and stroke.

Another career path for PTAs is working in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. PTAs typically work in these facilities with older adults with chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis or Parkinson’s.

The goal of PTAs in these settings is to help patients maintain their independence and improve their quality of life.

PTAs can also work in private practice, where they work with the PTs to provide patient care. Many PTAs may specialize in certain areas, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, or sports medicine.

Specializing in a particular area of physical therapy can increase the earning potential and opportunities for advancement in the field.

Career Outlook

Physical therapy assistants (PTAs) are in high demand, and this trend is expected to continue.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapy assistants is projected to grow 30% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

An aging population and a greater need for rehabilitation services drive this growth.

People living longer are more likely to experience conditions that require physical therapy, such as osteoarthritis, stroke, or a traumatic injury.

Additionally, an increase in chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes is also driving the demand for PTAs.

PTAs typically work in hospitals, clinics, and private practices under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

Their role is to assist the physical therapist in the development and implementation of treatment plans, help patients with exercises and therapeutic activities, and keep detailed records of patients’ progress.

They work closely with patients, allowing them to regain strength, mobility, and range of motion and reduce pain and discomfort.

With the demand for PTAs expected to continue growing in the future, this is an excellent career choice for those interested in healthcare who want to impact people’s lives positively.

Certified Physical Therapy Assistant Programs | Durations

Physical therapy assistant (PTA) programs typically take between 12 and 24 months to complete. The program’s length depends on the program type and the institution offering it.

Certificate programs are the shortest option, usually taking about 12 months to complete.

These programs are designed for individuals who already have some healthcare experience and want to enter the physical therapy field quickly.

Associate degree programs are the most common PTA program and usually take 18 to 24 months to complete.

These programs provide a comprehensive education in the field of physical therapy and include both classroom instruction and clinical experience.

Both certificate and associate degree programs require students to complete several clinical hours before graduation. This allows students to gain hands-on experience in a real-world setting and apply what they have learned in the classroom.

It is important to note that after completing a PTA program, graduates must also pass a national licensure exam to work as a PTA.

The duration of the program is also a consideration when planning to get a job because the demand for PTAs may vary depending on location.

You may need additional certifications or licenses if you want to practice in certain states.

Overall, physical therapy assistant programs provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to work as a PTA. The program usually takes two years to complete and results in an associate’s degree.

Graduates of the program are eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Examination for Physical Therapist Assistants and become licensed PTAs.

The role of a PTA is to assist physical therapists in the delivery of patient care and to help with patient evaluations, progress tracking, and documenting treatment plans.

Physical therapy assistant programs are an excellent option for individuals in the healthcare field who want to work closely with patients and positively impact their rehabilitation and recovery.