Physical Therapist Assistant Certification and Certificate Programs

Read on to learn about certificate programs for the physical therapist assistant. Discover educational prerequisites, program coursework and salary statistics here.

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Essential Information

Physical therapist assistants work closely with physical therapists to alleviate patients' pain, improve their mobility and lessen the symptoms of physical disabilities. Physical therapist assistants help patients to perform therapeutic exercises. They also apply hot, cold or electrical stimuli, administer massages and maintain records for the supervising physical therapist.

A physical therapist assistant certificate program is the first step toward gaining the skills necessary to work in a professional setting. Since physical therapist assistants must earn at least an associate degree in order to work in their field, certificate programs allow students to obtain foundational training that prepares them for formal 2-year degree programs. Certificate programs usually last one year, and they are sometimes known as pre-physical therapy assistant programs.

Educational Prerequisites

Schools offering certificate programs typically require students to have a high school diploma or GED. Although not specifically required, a high school background in natural science or health science courses may help students to better understand the physical therapist assistant coursework.

Program Coursework

Physical therapist assistant certificate programs prepare students to enter 2-year associate degree programs by fulfilling their general education and basic medical science requirements. Courses within a certificate program often include the following:

  • Medical vocabulary
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • English composition
  • General psychology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Although some certificate holders may work as physical therapist aides and acquire training on the job, most states require physical therapist assistants to hold an associate degree before they are permitted to work in a professional setting. Physical therapist assistants earned a mean annual salary of $52,320 in May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment opportunities for physical therapist assistants were expected to grow significantly by 46% between 2010 and 2020 as the aging population's demand for physical therapy services expands, reported the BLS (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education Information

Nearly all students who complete certificate programs enter associate degree programs to train as physical therapy assistants. Students who earn the certificate are not guaranteed admission into an associate degree program, though many certificate programs are affiliated with 2-year programs that accept the certificate for credit. Some states also require physical therapist assistants to be licensed before they can be employed. Licensing criteria varies from state to state and may include an examination; specific licensure information can be obtained from state licensing boards.

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Associate
        • Military Physical Assistant Prerequisite Program
        • Medical Logistics
        • AS in Health Science
        • Medical Material Supervisor

    Which subject are you interested in?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Alabama (2 campuses)
    • Arkansas (1)
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1)
    • Delaware (1)
    • Florida (9)
    • Georgia (8)
    • Louisiana (1)
    • Maryland (5)
    • Mississippi (1)
    • North Carolina (5)
    • Pennsylvania (6)
    • South Carolina (3)
    • Tennessee (3)
    • Texas (8)
    • Virginia (11)
    • West Virginia (1)

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 18 years of age or older
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • School locations:
    • Arizona (1 campus)
    • California (1 campus)
    • Florida (6)
    • Idaho (1)
    • Kentucky (2)
    • Michigan (1)
    • Ohio (7)
    • Oklahoma (2)
    • Texas (1)
    • Virginia (5)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    • Associate
        • Associate in Medical Assisting and Administration

    What year did you graduate from high school?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 21 years of age or older and have completed some college or 24 years of age or older and a high school graduate for a Bachelor's degree
    • Masters degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree
    • Doctorate degree applicants must have a Masters degree
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    When would you like to start classes?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Eligibility and relevancy of sample programs below will vary by article and program
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (3 campuses)
    • California (16)
    • Colorado (3)
    • Florida (6)
    • Georgia (5)
    • Illinois (8)
    • Indiana (2)
    • Kentucky (1)
    • Maryland (1)
    • Michigan (1)
    • Minnesota (1)
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    • New Jersey (3)
    • Nevada (1)
    • New York (2)
    • Ohio (4)
    • Oklahoma (1)
    • Oregon (1)
    • Pennsylvania (5)
    • Tennessee (2)
    • Texas (7)
    • Utah (1)
    • Virginia (3)
    • Washington (3)
    • Wisconsin (2)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your classroom preference?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants must be 22 years of age or have active military status
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Associate
        • AA in Healthcare Mgt

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Currently not accepting applications from Texas residents
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    Which subject are you interested in?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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