Gain Real World Experience
To gain some experience before you start the program, volunteer with a physical therapist, health care practitioner, or at a local nursing home.
It will also help to have a strong, well-rounded academic background in biology, chemistry, physics, health, art, and the social sciences.
Physical Therapist Assistant Training & Licensing
Physical therapist assistants must earn an associate’s degree in physical therapist assisting in order to practice. Currently there are over 250 accredited physical therapist assistant programs in the country.
Curriculum varies from program to program, but in addition to the theory and practice of physical therapy, you’ll probably study the basic medical sciences and other general education courses. You’ll also gain plenty of hands-on experience in a clinical internship.
Aside from earning a PTA degree, licensing requirements vary from state-to-state. Most states require passage of a state examination, CPR and First Aid certification, and completion of a minimum number of fieldwork hours.
Physical therapist assistant curriculum differs from that of the physical therapist and does not provide the needed prerequisites required for physical therapist education. However, if you do decide to become a PT after you are an experienced PTA, you may want to enter an accredited PTA-to-PT program.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics; Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides.
*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
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