Becoming a PTA isn’t easy, but it is most definitely rewarding. You can become a physical therapist assistant in as little as 2 years, after completing 5 semesters of an accredited associate degree program, and then you can be earning an average salary of $52,160.
So, you are asking “How to become a physical therapist assistant?” and make over $50K annually? Well, we put together this guide to becoming a PTA to explain the exact steps that you need to take to get started on your way to becoming a licensed physical therapy assistant.
How to Become a PTA
Generally speaking, to become a PTA all that is required is obtaining a PTA associate degree from an accredited program, passing the national license or certification exam, and then finding your PTA job. However, to make planning and completing these processes easier, we have broken down our guide into 7 steps to become a PTA. Before we get started with the guide, I want to make a distinction between PT Assistants and PT Aides.
Aides are not required to have more than a high school diploma and are trained on the job over a 3 month to 1 year period. Physical therapy aides work under the supervision of physical therapists and physical therapy assistants. They must be strong and fit to help assist patients with their therapy exercises, while also possessing strong communication and organizational skills to record, monitor, and express patient progress to colleagues, patients, and patient family members.
How to Become a Physical Therapy Assistant in 7 steps
1.) Obtain a high school diploma or GED
You are required to have this part of your education completed before you can move forward with the other steps. Having an interest in science and anatomy classes is a good indication that you may be a good fit to become a PTA. Also, working a summer internship or job in a health or science focused role would help you tremendously as you proceed in your education and career as a PTA.
2.) Apply to a CAPTE accredited PTA program
The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) is responsible for accrediting PTA programs. Before applying, learn what to look for in a PTA program and then do your research before choosing a PTA school. Search PTA Programs in your state.
3.) Complete your PTA degree
Accredited PTA schools offer 5 semester (2 year) associate degree programs consisting of 75% coursework and 25% clinical work. Classes include anatomy, kinesiology, medical terminology, pathology, therapy exercises and assistance techniques.
4.) Complete 16 weeks of clinical practicum training
This must be performed under a licensed physical therapist.
5.) Get your state PTA license
Colorado and Hawaii are the only states that do not require a license in order to perform PTA work. For all other states, you must either choose to take a state-specific exam or the national physical therapy exam if you want to work in multiple states. Find your State’s PTA License requirements and application form.
6.) Apply for PTA Jobs
Once you are licensed, you are eligible to work. Now it is time to apply for PTA jobs. Searching for a PTA job online is a good start, but you should also consider contacting hospitals, physical therapy clinics, and elderly care facilities for open PTA positions. Find a PTA Job in your state.
7.) Maintain your license by continuing your education
Continuing education credits are required to maintain your state certification. Your employer can help you find local classes and physical therapy conferences that will offer these credits.
That is it! We hope you found our 7 step guide on how to become a physical therapist assistant useful. For help getting started on becoming a PTA you may want to look into physical therapy assistant schools online or a local accredited PTA program. Already have your degree? Then it is time for you search for PTA jobs.
If you still aren’t sure that becoming a physical therapy assistant is for you then checkout all of the specific physical therapy assistant requirements for completing a degree and also look into how much a physical therapist assistant salary is.