Formal education is not always necessary to become a physical therapy aide, but those who want to gain an edge in the job market do have program options. Physical therapy aide diploma programs typically take less than one year to complete. Programs that can be completed entirely online and in a hybrid format are available, though they are somewhat rare. While some programs may offer opportunities to gain clinical work experience, this is optional.
Overview of Online Physical Therapy Aide Diploma Programs
Online physical therapy aide diploma programs are not common, but a few for-profit schools do offer them. Students in these programs learn about the physical therapy practice and the role of aides in helping patients who are participating in recovery plans. They typically study human anatomy, medical terminology and health conditions that require physical therapy. Coursework also teaches prospective aides about professional and ethical behavior.
Program Information and Requirements
Online diploma programs for prospective physical therapy aides typically can be completed in six months or less; however, the time frame often depends on how quickly students move through the coursework. Schools may allow students 1-2 years to finish an online program.
Students can access their course materials and take examinations through a school's online learning environment on its website. Although courses can be completed fully online, some schools offer the option to gain experience in a clinical setting.
List of Common Physical Therapy Aide Courses
Diploma programs for physical therapy aides typically do not require general education coursework. Programs primarily focus on the skills and knowledge needed to perform in this occupation.
Introduction to Physical Therapy
This course introduces students to the field of physical therapy. Students learn about its function as well as the roles of physical therapy professionals.
Physical Therapy Treatments
Students learn about multiple types of treatments used in physical therapy and discover how physical therapy aides assist in treatment delivery. Coursework may focus on treatments for specific conditions, such as those affecting the neurological or musculoskeletal systems.
This course covers health and safety issues relevant to physical therapy and working in a clinical environment. Treatment area preparation, patient safety, first aid and other clinical protocols typically are discussed.
Career Information for Graduates
Graduates with a physical therapy aide diploma can obtain employment in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities. As of May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that aides earned $27,440 a year on average. The BLS predicted that employment for physical therapy aides could increase by 39% between 2014 and 2024. Physical therapists were expected to increase their hiring of aides, while an increase in the elderly population could drive demand as well.
Continuing Education Information
Physical therapy aides might decide to advance their careers by becoming physical therapy assistants. The majority of states require that assistants who provide direct patient care obtain an associate degree and pass the National Physical Therapy Exam. Some schools offer physical therapy assistant programs in a hybrid format, which combines on-campus and online requirements. Clinical experiences are also required in these programs.
Online physical therapy aide diploma programs may offer clinical experience in addition to online courses in physical therapy treatments and health and safety issues. Additional education and certification is needed to become a physical therapy assistant.