How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant

If you are interested in a career as a physical therapist assistant, there are a few key steps that you need to take so that you can ensure yourself a stable and secure future in the medical field. Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) work under the supervision and guidance of a physical therapist in order to help alleviate pain in patients, help to promote mobility, increase fitness, and help athletes perform at the top of their game.

Steps to Qualified Physical Therapist

Here are some of the steps that you will need to take in order to become a qualified physical therapist assistant.

  • High school students should follow a curriculum that focuses heavily on biology, chemistry, and physics.
    •    High school graduation is preferred, but an equivalency GED is also acceptable by most physical therapist assistant teaching programs.
    •    Students will then need to enroll in a two year program from an accredited university. If the university or educational facility is not accredited, then it will be a waste of time, money, and effort, so be sure to verify this before enrolling.
    •    The degrees typically obtained will be associate degrees, in applied science. While a lot of coursework can be done through online classes, a lot of the other work will need to be done in a lab setting so it is important to carefully consider which type of learning is best for this program.
    •    Upon graduation from a two year program, the individuals can then apply for their physical therapist assistant license.

How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant

Licensing requirements may vary between states, and may require that individuals demonstrate they have passed other certification courses that will prove beneficial in their line of work, like CPR for example.

Contacting your Department of Health for all of the requirement details can help you to ensure you are fully prepared to sit and pass the exams that could be required before you are awarded the title of physical therapist assistant.

With your education and license in hand, you might find it more of a challenge to secure a job than some may lead you to believe. This is not because you are not qualified, but more because you do not have the experience that is needed. While studying at university, try to get an intern position working with a physical therapist as this will help to give you some of the experience that potential employers are looking for.

Your initial starting salary may be on the low end for the average physical therapist assistant salary in the USA, but as your experience grows so will your compensation. Your compensation will also vary greatly based upon where you are work and who you are working for.

Here are some of the places that you might find work as a physical therapist assistant.

  • Sports facility
    •    Hospital
    •    Rehabilitation facility
    •    Private practice
    •    Home health care

You could find yourself working with young children who are recovering from an injury or illness, or perhaps children who have physical disabilities. You could also find yourself working with athletes who have sustained injuries and are looking to work through the injury while also learning better methods of preventing new injuries. Your patients could range in age from the very young to the very old that need help recovering from a hip replacement surgery, for example.

Working as a physical therapist assistant can be very rewarding, and give you the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many patients. A lot of PTAs work for several years, gaining important experience and hands-on knowledge, while also continuing their education to become fully-fledged physical therapists. Whether you are interested in how to become a physical therapist assistant, or are content as a physical therapist assistant, this is a secure career choice in the medical field.

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