Physical Therapist Assistant Educational Requirements

Like all other occupations, a physical therapist assistant is required to acquire formal physical therapist assistant education, followed by licensure in order to qualify to practice as a specialized in this field.

A physical therapist assistant works under the supervision of a specialized PT to provide rehabilitation and therapeutic sets to people experiencing from injury, illness or any other disability that limit their daily functional activities. They monitor the patient’s developmental progress, teach them how to use the required medical devices and the exercises they are required to carry out themselves.

Educational Requirements

An associate’s degree (or a postsecondary program) by an accredited college is the first step in physical therapist assistant education and is required by most states in the US. There were 276 related programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), as of July 2011, with most of them conferring associate’s degree.

Associate’s degree

It’s a two year degree program, usually divided into five semesters. The curriculum is designed to provide academic course work in addition as laboratory classes and clinical experience. Physiology, algebra, therapeutic techniques, healthcare law, rehabilitation procedures are a few of the many courses taught to students during this program. Clinical practicum involves first aid training and cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification (CPR). Clinical experience is a vital pillar of physical therapist assistant education and as per US Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is considered as major requirement by employers.


Most states require you to acquire a license to practice in a medical facility. However, Colorado and Hawaii do not. Completion of a program by a CAPTE accredited college is generally required by most states; however some licensing requirements vary state to state.

Candidates are required to pass National Physical Therapy Assistant Examination, which is usually a state administered exam in order to acquire a license.

Continuing education credits

PTAs may also be required to acquire continuing education credits may be for license renewal or additional certifications. This gives them the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skill set and makes them an important part of their team.


You may also choose to specialize in their area of interest. Such as marine, pediatric, geriatric, etc. It is a certification program to receive the Certificate of progressive Proficiency and is offered by the APTA. It has the following prerequisites:

  • APTA membership
  • During the last 5 years, 2000 hours of applicable work experience and 60 hours of continuing education credits
  • Reference letters from the employers
  • Proof of contribution to the field

Licensure is usually the last step in the long course of action of physical therapist assistant education to professionally practice with a PT. Additional educational credits and specialty certifications are usually optional but add to your profile and make you a vital part of your team.

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