Physical Therapist Assistant Certification and Certificate Programs

Physical therapist assistants work closely with physical therapists to alleviate patients' pain, improve their mobility and lessen the symptoms of physical disabilities. Physical therapist assistants help patients to perform therapeutic exercises.

Essential Information

They also apply hot, cold or electrical stimuli, administer massages and maintain records for the supervising physical therapist. Since physical therapist assistants must earn at least an associate degree in order to work in their field, certificate programs allow students to obtain foundational training that prepares them for formal 2-year degree programs.

  • Length of Study: Certificate programs last one year
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED

Physical Therapy Assistant Certification

Physical therapist assistant certificate programs prepare students to enter 2-year associate degree programs by fulfilling their general education and basic medical science requirements. Courses within a certificate program often include the following:

  • Medical vocabulary
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • English composition
  • General psychology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Although some certificate holders may work as physical therapist aides and acquire training on the job, most states require physical therapist assistants to hold an associate degree before they are permitted to work in a professional setting. Physical therapist assistants earned a mean annual salary of $54,410 in May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment opportunities for physical therapist assistants were expected to grow significantly by 41% between 2012 and 2022 as the aging population's demand for physical therapy services expands, reported the BLS (

Continuing Education Information

Nearly all students who complete certificate programs enter associate degree programs to train as physical therapy assistants. Students who earn the certificate are not guaranteed admission into an associate degree program, though many certificate programs are affiliated with 2-year programs that accept the certificate for credit. Nearly all states also require physical therapist assistants to be licensed before they can be employed. Licensing criteria varies from state to state and may include completion of an associate's program and an examination; specific licensure information can be obtained from state licensing boards.

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