Physical Therapy Assistant Guide

Welcome to the PTA Guide, a physical therapy assistant education & career resource. We have everything you need to become a licensed PTA in your state. A few of the helpful things that you'll find here are information resources by state such as tools and info on PTA Schools, PTA license requirements, PTA Jobs, PTA salary data for states & major cities.
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What Are Physical Therapy Assistant Requirements?

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Learn the requirements to become a PTA, such as the PTA program length, tuition and fees, time spent in a classroom vs a clinical, and state license requirements.

Program Length Tuition and Fees (public) Tuition and Fees (private) Classroom % Clinicals % State License
2 years / 5 semesters $7,816 $26,493 75% coursework 25% of coursework Required in each state except for CO and HI

Already have your degree, and looking for license requirements?


Physical Therapy Assistant Requirements for Education

Physical Therapy Assistant Program Requirements

As you plan out your education needed to become a physical therapist assistant it is important to be aware of the degree requirements. The good news for PTAs is that they don’t have to spend 4 years in college to obtain their degree. Instead, they must attend an accredited college and earn a Physical Therapist Assistant, Associate Degree which can be completed in 2 years or 5 semesters.

There are over 200 physical therapy assistant programs nationwide that offer associate degrees. Most of these degree programs consist of general education courses, physical therapy courses, and clinical education.

Physical therapy curriculum primarily consists of anatomy & physiology, biomechanics, exercise physiology, kinesiology, clinical pathology, neuroscience, communication, behavioral sciences, and ethics/values. Included in this curriculum, as is included with many other allied careers, are CPR and basic lifesaving first aide skills.

Approximately 75% of the physical therapy curriculum is taught in classroom and lab study and the remaining 25% consist of clinical education. On average, a PT student spends 16 weeks in a full-time clinical education experience.

Physical Therapist Aides vs Assistants

If you are interested in becoming an assistant but do not have the funds, time, or some other means to pursue the required education, then you should consider becoming a physical therapy aide. A PT aide is not required to complete an associates degree, but will perform a very similar job function compared to a PT assistant.

Physical therapist aides work in the same environment as physical therapy assistants. Aides work under the supervision of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants while assisting the patients with their physical therapy exercises and treatments. Aides should be physically fit, enough to be able to bend, kneel, and lift. Aides will also need to utilize strong communication and social skills while interacting with patients and other office staff. Additionally good organizational skills for carrying our administrative office tasks are important.

Physical therapy aides are employed with a number of diverse tasks including aiding patients in movements, assisting them in and out of the therapy area of the clinic, and offering other patient aid. Aides also perform clerical work, monitor client progress, and setup equipment for therapy. As you can see, physical therapy aides must have a unique combination of skills including physical strength to aid patients, as well as sensitivity to offer their assistance in a compassionate manner to clients.

Physical Therapy Aide Requirements

As I mentioned before, those not interested in obtaining a physical therapy assistant associate degree, can still meet the requirements to work as a PT Aide. There is not a required license or certification to become a physical therapy aide.

Aides do not have college degree requirements, although a high school diploma is typically a job requirement for this position. Volunteering to help disabled in a clinic or hospital will surely improve your resume, enhance your skills, and ensure that you have a passion and interest in working in the physical therapy field for a long term career.

The majority of PT clinics and offices that hire aides offer on the job training to make sure their aides qualify. Training for PT aides can last anywhere from 3 months to 1 year of working with experienced employees who will teach the trainee things like:

  • Properly cleaning the therapy areas
  • Keeping equipment organized
  • Setting up and taking down of PT equipment
  • Accessing, editing, and monitoring patient information
  • Properly assisting patients in and out of therapy areas
  • Performing clerical tasks properly
  • Proper patient record keeping

Although not required, taking some physical therapy courses or physical fitness courses would be a great way to get an edge on your competitors applying for the same job as a physical therapy aide. In fact, there are physical therapy aide programs that you can attend, and successful completion of one of these programs would give you a certificate that would greatly increase your marketability for a career as an aide.

Planning for Physical Therapy Assistant Requirements

As you plan your career in physical therapy you have decisions to make regarding your education to make sure you complete the physical therapy assistant requirements. Alternatively, you can get started in your career as a PT aide and receive on the job training, without having to obtain an associate degree. Aides always have the option to go back to school to advance their careers and become a physical therapist assistant (PTA) or a physical therapist (PT).

So, research some of the available physical therapy assistant schools online and local PTA programs available. If you decide to bypass working as an Aide, to go for the required PTA associate degree, then keep in mind that with an online program you will still be required to complete the clinical portion of the degree offline, in a local PT clinic.

And of course once you have met all of your PTA requirements, you can use our tools to search for the perfect PTA Jobs available in your area 🙂