Associate of Science (AS): Physical Therapist Assistant Degree Overview

Jul 12, 2006

The Associate of Science in Physical Therapy Assisting program is available at community colleges and technical schools. Students learn how to help patients with therapeutic exercises under the supervision of physical therapists.

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Essential Information

An Associate of Science in Physical Therapy Assisting teaches students to use common therapy methods and perform duties with a professional and ethical attitude. They learn how to assist physical therapists by aiding patients in exercise, using treatment equipment, and conducting medical testing procedures. Graduates can qualify for entry-level positions in the field after satisfying state-required testing for licensing.

Work experience, proof of immunizations, physical requirements and entry-level science courses may be required for admission to this program.

Associate of Science in Physical Therapy Assisting

Physical therapy assisting programs require classroom-based courses and a clinical practicum. The clinical portion of a program usually involves working hands-on in a physical therapy setting under the direction of a physical therapist or instructor. Coursework may cover:

  • Medical terminology and kinesiology
  • Patient care and therapeutic methods
  • Anatomy
  • Physical therapy fundamentals
  • Human development
  • Rehabilitation science

Popular Career Options

While programs focus on preparing individuals to become a physical therapy assistant, some graduates may choose to enter other medical support positions. Examples include:

  • Medical offices
  • Hospitals
  • Therapy centers

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an annual median salary of $58,040 for physical therapist assistants. At that time, those working for home health care services earned the top wages. Much faster-than-average job growth of 27% was projected by the BLS from 2018-2028 for physical therapist assistants.

Continuing Education Information

Physical therapy assistants, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), must be licensed, registered or certified in most states. Typically, they must pass the National Physical Therapy Exam. Physical therapy assistants may aspire to become physical therapists. To advance in their career, they need to complete a graduate degree in physical therapy. The BLS states that individuals may find work as a physical therapist with a master's or doctorate degree. All states have regulations for physical therapists, which typically include passing a professional examination to become licensed.

Students who pursue an associate's degree in physical therapy assisting will learn through classroom lectures and hands-on experience. Graduates must seek licensure or certification from their respective states once they complete the degree program.

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