Physical Therapist Aide Certificate and Certification Programs

Physical therapist assistants obtain their qualifications through degree programs rather than certificate programs. Most physical therapist assistant degree programs lead to an Associate of Science.

Essential Information

Although physical therapist aides and assistants may share certain tasks, the two roles are quite different. Physical therapy aides are most often responsible for keeping the treatment area clean and orderly. They may help order supplies and assist patients as they move to and from their session. This work group does not generally need formal training or certification.

Physical therapist assistants, on the other hand, are more directly involved in patient care and may execute many of the same tasks as the physical therapist. While there is very little formal training for aides, physical therapy assistants must be formally certified.

Qualification programs for physical therapists generally last two years and introduce students to a variety of related medical topics. This education combines classroom instruction with clinical training. Courses are generally taken in medical terminology, kinesiology and pathophysiology. Graduates are prepared to pursue necessary certification in the field.

  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Program Length: Two years
  • Other Requirements: Complete a certain number of hours of physical therapy observation in an approved clinic

Associate's in Physical Therapy

Students in an associate degree physical therapy assistant program are exposed to a wide range of therapy-related subjects in a combination of classroom coursework and hands-on, clinical experience. Some of the possible topics included in such a curriculum are listed below:

  • Medical terminology
  • Fundamentals of physical therapy
  • Kinesiology
  • Issues in clinical practice
  • Pathophysiology

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,, the employment of physical therapy aides is expected to grow by 41%, from 2012-2022, which is much faster than average for all other occupations. The BLS also states that, as of May of 2014, the average annual wage physical therapist aides was $26,660.

Continuing Education and Licensure Information

Depending on the state in which they practice, physical therapist assistants may be required to be formally certified. This usually involves passing a certification exam administered by the National Physical Therapist Examination (NPTE).

Some states may also have other requirements like completion of fieldwork hours and CPR certification. Physical therapy assistants may advance their career by specializing in a particular aspect of the field. They may also use their experience to pursue a career as a physical therapist. Physical therapy aides do not need to be licensed in order to work.

Related to Physical Therapist Aide Certification

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