While a physical therapist tech or physical therapist aide position can require only a high school diploma and on-the-job training, there are schools that offer offer brief certificate or training programs.
Students desiring a college degree in physical therapist technology can find options designed to train physical therapist assistants (PTAs). PTAs are licensed health care professionals who help physical therapists with patient care. They must complete an approved associate's degree program in physical therapist assisting and earn passing scores on a national competency exam.
Current and aspiring physical therapist assistants wishing to continue their education can apply credits earned in these programs toward an online bachelor's degree in physical therapist assisting. These programs, though somewhat rare, allow students to study advanced health care topics. Some schools also offer opportunities to specialize in inpatient or outpatient care.
Applicants to physical therapist assisting bachelor's degree programs typically need to be enrolled in or to have completed a two-year associate's degree in the field.
Physical Therapist Tech Bachelor's Degree
While studying to become physical therapist techs, students learn to handle non-clinical duties in physical therapy settings, such as setting up treatment rooms, handling administration and clerical duties, and transporting patients. Curricula for physical therapist assisting bachelor's degree programs include general education courses as well as health science core and elective classes. Students must also complete fieldwork or a capstone project. Topics of study may include:
- Health services management
- Patient communication
- Health care law
- Health care ethics
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Graduates of physical therapist assisting bachelor's degree programs can advance their careers or pursue entry-level employment with hospitals, nursing facilities or physical therapy offices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for physical therapist assistants were expected to increase 41% from 2014 through 2024, much faster than average, making this a promising career option. The BLS also notes that the median annual salary for physical therapist assistants was $55,170 in May 2015.
Physical therapist assistants who have completed an associate's degree program can further their education by enrolling in a bachelor's degree program. A bachelor's degree in physical therapy assisting will teach students about subjects like pathophysiology, health care law, health care ethics, and epidemiology.