Associate of Physical Therapy: Assistant Degree Overview
Learn about the associate degree requirements for the physical therapy assistant profession. Find out about the employment outlook, along with the certification and licensing steps for this career.
Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science programs in physical therapy assisting are widely offered at community colleges and vocational schools. In these two-year programs, students typically complete a combination of lecture-based courses, hands-on training sessions and a field experience. Graduates are qualified to sit for national certification examinations and work under the supervision of physical therapists.
In general, a student seeking admission into a physical therapist assistant associate degree program has earned a high school diploma or its GED equivalent. Additionally, some academic institutions require students to complete prerequisite courses in mathematics, biology and English.
In addition to the clinical component to this type of degree program, traditional classroom instruction prepares students to perform their duties according to industry standards. Courses can cover topics such as:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Rehabilitation methods
- Patient care
- Exercise therapies
- Medical terminology
- Health care ethics
- Health care statistics
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 46% from 2010-2020, and job opportunities are expected to be very good for these professionals (www.bls.gov). In May 2012, physical therapist assistants earned an average annual salary of $52,320, the BLS stated.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Upon successful completion of a physical therapist assistant associate degree program, graduates are prepared to take the National Physical Therapy Exam, which is required for practice in most states. Other states may require the completion of additional stipulations, such as state examinations. Physical therapy assistants may be required to become licensed, registered or certified, depending on the state in which they work. Additionally, graduates can go on to earn bachelor's degrees in closely related fields, such as health science or health administration.
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