Most physical therapist assistants earn an associate degree from an accredited physical therapist assistant program.
A physical therapist assistant must complete a two year associate degree program accredited by the CAPTE. These physical therapist assistant programs are usually offered at community and junior colleges.
Physical therapist assistant programs are divided into academic study and hands-on clinical experience. Academic course work includes algebra, anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, and psychology. Clinical work includes certifications in CPR and other first aid and field experience in treatment centers.
Admission into physical therapist assistant programs is competitive; it is not unusual for colleges to have long waiting lists of prospective candidates.
To use the title “Physical Therapist Assistant,” a person must graduate from an associate degree PTA program accredited by the CAPTE.
Some states require licensure or registration in order to work as a physical therapist assistant. States that require licensure stipulate specific educational and examination criteria. Additional requirements may include certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other first aid and a minimum number of hours of clinical experience.
Complete information on regulations can be obtained from State licensing boards. Some physical therapist aides advance to become therapist assistants after gaining experience and additional education.
Physical therapists need a master’s degree from an accredited physical therapy program and a State license, requiring passing scores on national and State examinations.