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Associate of Physical Therapy Assistant: Degree Overview

Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science programs in physical therapy assisting are widely offered at community colleges and vocational schools. Students typically complete a combination of lecture-based courses, hands-on training sessions and a field experience.

Essential Information

Students in a physical therapy assistant associate program learn to help patients with rehabilitative exercises and document patient progress. This program usually takes two years to complete. Graduates are qualified to sit for national certification examinations and work under the supervision of physical therapists.

In general, a student seeking admission to this associate program has earned a high school diploma or its GED equivalent. Additionally, some academic institutions require students to complete prerequisite courses in mathematics, biology and English.


Associate's Degree in Physical Therapy Assistant

In addition to the clinical component, traditional classroom instruction prepares students to perform their duties according to industry standards. Courses can cover topics such as:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Rehabilitation methods
  • Patient care
  • Pathophysiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Exercise therapies

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 40% from 2014-2024, and job opportunities are expected to be very good for these professionals. In May 2015, physical therapist assistants earned a mean annual salary of $55,250, the BLS stated.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Upon successful completion of a physical therapist assistant associate degree program, graduates are prepared to take the National Physical Therapy Exam, which is required for practice in most states. Other states may require the completion of additional stipulations, such as state examinations. Physical therapy assistants may be required to become licensed, registered or certified, depending on the state in which they work. Additionally, graduates can go on to earn bachelor's degrees in closely related fields, such as health science or health administration.

Students who complete an associate degree program in physical therapy learn the skills needed to work under the supervision of a physical therapist. In addition, students will be eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Exam once they earn the degree. Career opportunities in the field should be abundant.

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