Certified therapists include massage therapists, physical therapists and occupational therapists. Certificate and degree programs in this field are offered by 2 and 4-year colleges and universities at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In some cases, programs may be available partially online.
Students gain hands-on experience through internships, clinicals, projects and fieldwork. Additionally, some programs prepare students for certification or licensure exams. The following explores 9 of the largest schools in Washington offering certified therapist programs.
Clover Park Technical College
Lakewood's Clover Park Technical College offers a Swedish Practitioner Certificate, day and evening options for the Clinical Massage Practitioner Certificate and an Associate in Applied Technology in Massage Studies. The Swedish Practitioner Certificate takes 2 terms to complete and addresses Swedish massage theory, complementary massage modalities, deep tissue massage theory and includes a student clinic. The Clinical Massage Practitioner Certificate is for individuals who have previously completed the Swedish massage training and covers clinical massage techniques and applications and assessing and treating upper and lower extremities. The associate's degree program incorporates courses from the certificate programs and includes business classes and deep tissue massage theory and practice. The programs also prepare students for the certification exam so they can earn Washington State licensure as massage therapists.
Eastern Washington University
Eastern Washington University in Cheney offers degree programs in more than 100 fields of study, including a Master of Occupational Therapy and a Doctor of Physical Therapy. The master's degree program trains students to provide services in occupational therapy. Courses include theory and practice in occupational therapy, neurology, human diseases, leadership and emerging practice. The doctoral degree program consists of 11 quarters of study, a summer-long internship and clinical internships. Courses explore physical therapy research, ethics and morals of professional practice, the changing health care environment and the application of scientific knowledge in physical therapy.
Green River Community College
At Green River Community College in Auburn students can select from occupational therapy or physical therapy assistant programs. The Occupation Therapy Assistant Associate in Applied Science trains students to assist people and help them regain function following an illness or an accident. They prepare for the national licensing exam through courses in therapeutic adaptations and activities, workplace issues, physical disabilities and psychosocial dysfunction. The Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Applied Science program also prepares students for the licensing exam and includes courses in musculoskeletal threads, support bridges, neuromuscular threads and clinical preparation. Students can also join the Student Physical Therapy Assistant Club or the Student Occupational Therapy Association.
Lake Washington Institute of Technology
At Kirkland's Lake Washington Institute of Technology, students have the opportunity to select from training in more than 35 different fields, with over 100 degrees and technical certificates available. Students can work out at the fitness center, enroll their children in the Early Learning Center, seek counseling or participate in student government. They can earn a Massage Practitioner Certificate of Completion, a Massage Practitioner Certificate of Proficiency, an Occupational Therapy Assistant Associate in Applied Science or a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Applied Science.
Peninsula College in Port Angeles is committed to providing an innovative, student-focused environment where students can gain real-world experience. The Pre-Physical Therapist Assistant program is a distant learning program that's available through Olympic College. Students complete courses both online and face-to-face and gain hands-on clinical experience. They study basic skills and procedures for physical therapist assistants, human growth and development, introductory physical therapy, medical terminology, kinesiology and trends in physical therapy.
Renton Technical College
Renton Technical College, which is located in Renton offers a Massage Therapy Practitioner Certificate of Completion, a Massage Therapy Practitioner Associate of Applied Science and a transfer option for the associate's degree program. The programs prepare students for the licensure certification exams through courses in deep tissue massage, pediatric massage, pregnancy massage, foot reflexology and sports medicine. Students also complete clinical experiences and an internship.
University of Puget Sound
Graduate students at Tacoma's University of Puget Sound can pursue a 2-and-a-half year Master of Occupational Therapy or a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy that prepares them for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exams through the School of Occupational Therapy. The programs include on-site clinics and courses in health policy for therapists, occupational therapy neuroscience, foundations of occupational therapy, treating neurological disorders in adults and treating mental health disorders.
Graduate students can also pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy at the School of Physical Therapy, which takes 3 years to complete. They explore physical therapy skills, functional anatomy, therapeutic exercises and adult neurologic rehabilitation. They also complete 3 clinical experiences and 3 clinical internships.
University of Washington - Seattle Campus
The University of Washington's Seattle campus was founded in 1861. The Master of Occupational Therapy is an accredited program that prepares students for the certification exam. Students explore rehabilitation diseases and diagnoses, occupational performance analysis and occupational therapy theories, and they complete fieldwork and a master's project.
A Doctor of Physical Therapy is an 11-quarter program that consists of 2 phases; the first phase includes courses in pathophysiology, neurophysiology, neuroanatomy and exercise physiology. The phase also includes a professional seminar and a clinical clerkship. The second phase consists of 3 clinical internships and courses in motor control, differential diagnosis, pharmacology, rehabilitation psychology and prosthetics.
Whatcom Community College
Located in Bellingham, Whatcom Community College offers a variety of training programs at the certificate and associate degree level, including a Massage Practitioner Certificate, a Massage Practitioner Associate in Science and a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Science. The programs are delivered in a hybrid format that consists of a blend of on-campus and online courses that prepare students for the state and national licensure exams. Aspiring massage therapists study infant massage, therapeutic medical massage, sports massage and wellness massage. The physical therapy assistant program includes courses in physical therapist assistant procedures, ethical issues in physical therapy, medical terminology, clinical neurology and applied anatomy.
Massage therapists need to earn a Washington State massage therapy license and a national license, which includes completing 500 hours of study. Occupational therapists need to have at least a master's degree in occupational therapy and pass the licensure exam offered by the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists. Physical therapists need to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy, which takes about 3 years of study beyond a doctoral degree, and earn a license by passing the National Physical Therapy Examination.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Certified Therapist Degree Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2018-19)|
|Clover Park Technical College||2-year, public; large suburb|| Swedish Practitioner Certificate,
Clinical Massage Practitioner Certificate,
Associate in Applied Technology in Massage Studies
|Eastern Washington University||4-year, public; fringe town||Master of Occupational Therapy and a Doctor of Physical Therapy||$7,323 in-state, $24,444 out-of-state*|
|Green River Community College||2-year, public; small city|| Occupational Therapy Assistant in Associate in Applied Science,
Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Applied Science
|$4,053 in-state, $4,482 out-of-state*|
|Lake Washington Institute of Technology||4-year, primarily associate's, public; large suburb||Massage Practitioner Certificate of Completion,
Massage Practitioner Certificate of Proficiency,
Occupational Therapy Assistant Associate in Applied Science,
Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Applied Science
|$4,251 in-state, $9,618 out-of-state*|
|Peninsula College||4-year, primarily associate's, public; remote town||Pre-Physical Therapist Assistant||$4,453 in-state, $5,023 out-of-state*|
|Renton Technical College||2-year, public; small city||Massage Therapy Practitioner Certificate of Completion, a Massage Therapy Practitioner Associate of Applied Science||$5,466 in-state, $5,902 out-of-state*|
|University of Puget Sound||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsized city||Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, Master of Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Physical Therapy||$49,776*|
|University of Washington - Seattle Campus||4-year, public; large city|| Master of Occupational Therapy,
Doctor of Physical Therapy
|$11,207 in-state, $36,588 out-of-state*|
|Whatcom Community College||2-year, public; fringe rural|| Massage Practitioner Certificate,
Massage Practitioner Associate in Science,
Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Science
|$4,551 in-state, $9,980 out-of-state*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator