Schools for Aspiring Physical Therapy Aides: How to Choose

Dec 08, 2019

Physical therapy aides generally receive on-the-job training, but an associate's degree is typically required for assistants. These programs prepare candidates to work alongside licensed physical therapists who provide care for patients who may possess a host of medical disabilities that limit movement. Since physical therapy involves helping patients during rehabilitation, students must gain strong interpersonal skills and the ability to adapt to different settings.

Physical therapy assistants may receive career training through a physical therapy assisting associate's degree program at a 2-year community college or career institute. Most states require physical therapy assistants, or PTAs, to obtain an associate's degree and pass the state and national physical therapy licensing exams before they can work in the field.

10 Physical Therapy Assistant Schools

Some physical therapy assistant programs in the United States are offered at the institutions listed here.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2018-2019)
Loma Linda University Loma Linda, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Associate's $30,720
Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AK 4-year, Public Associate's In-state $8,607; Out-of-state $15,297
College of Central Florida Ocala, FL 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Associate's In-state $2,570; Out-of-state $10,126
Jackson State Community College Jackson, TN 2-year, Public Associate's In-state $4,221; Out-of-state $16,509
Great Falls College, Montana State University Great Falls, MT 2-year, Public Associate's In-state $3,386; Out-of-state $10,278
Broward College Fort Lauderdale, FL 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Associate's In-state $2,830; Out-of-state $8,952
Illinois Central College East Peoria, IL 2-year, Public Associate's In-district $4,500; In-state $9,600; Out-of-state $11,340
Lorain County Community College Elyria, OH 2-year, Public Associate's In-district $3,485; In-state $4,140; Out-of-state $8,081
Dixie State University Saint George, UT 4-year, public Associate's In-state $5,253; Out-of-state $15,051
Idaho State University Pocatello, ID 4-year, public Associate's, Bachelor's In-state $7,420; Out-of-state $22,940

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

There are some important considerations when choosing a physical therapy assistant program.

  • Look for a school that offers a wide range of physical therapy courses and allows students to work closely with faculty.
  • Schools that have modern training equipment and strong relationships with various medical facilities are an additional benefit, since physical therapy assistants work in settings that include hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities and outpatient clinics.
  • Consider a school that has clinical student training at partner facilities, which may help lead to permanent employment.
  • It is important to choose a recognized, accredited program that meets state licensing requirements.

Associate of Science in Physical Therapy Assisting Program Overview

A 2-year associate's degree program for aspiring physical therapy assistants may require candidates to complete 20-40 hours of clinical observation before being admitted into the program.

Most physical therapy assistant programs are two years in length, and include earning an associate's degree. Physical therapy assistant programs are offered at a number of public and private institutions with varying tuition rates, and it is also possible to complete a certificate or bachelor's degree program.

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