How To Become a Physical Therapist Assistant

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How Long Does It Take, What Degree Do You Need, and More

Physical Therapist Assistants

Physical Therapist Assistants assist physical therapists in providing physical therapy treatments and procedures. May, in accordance with State laws, assist in the development of treatment plans, carry out routine functions, document the progress of treatment, and modify specific treatments in accordance with patient status and within the scope of treatment plans established by a physical therapist. Generally requires formal training.

Becoming One
Associate's degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth


What degree do you need

Recommended degree level

Associate’s Degree

We did a survey to ask other Physical Therapist Assistants what degree they had when they became a Physical Therapist Assistant. Here are the results.
Associate’s Degree

Bachelor’s Degree

Less than a High School Diploma

One of the most common questions that we always get is what major or degree do I need to become Physical Therapist Assistants or what courses do I need to take.

We also asked Physical Therapist Assistants what did they major in college or university and here are the top 5 most popular majors that came up.

Physical Therapy Technician

Most states require physical therapist assistants to have an associate’s degree from an accredited physical therapist program. Programs typically last about 2 years, and include both classroom study and clinical experience. PTA programs usually include courses in algebra, English, anatomy, physiology, and psychology.

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How hard is it

Not Too Hard

You may need some previous work-related skill, knowledge or experience to be a Physical Therapist Assistant. For example, an electrician must complete three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.

Careers in this difficulty category will usually need 1 or 2 years of on-the-job training and informal training with experienced workers. These careers usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Similar careers include hydroelectric production managers, travel agents, electricians, court reporters, and medical assistants.

Related work experience required


3 to 6 months

6 months to 1 year

Job training
Up to 1 month

Up to 1 month

1 to 3 months


License and certifications

Do you need any license or certification
All states require a license except Hawaii

All states except Hawaii require physical therapist assistants to be licensed or certified. Licensure typically requires graduation from an accredited physical therapist assistant program and passing the National Physical Therapy Exam administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Some states require that applicants pass additional state-administered exams, undergo a criminal record check, and be at least 18 years old.

Skills required

We asked other Physical Therapist Assistants if they could only have 5 skills, what would they be. Here is what they said.

1. Active Listening what does this mean
2. Speaking what does this mean
3. Monitoring what does this mean
4. Social Perceptiveness what does this mean
5. Service Orientation what does this mean

= Hot in-demand that most employers are looking for

Knowledge required

Just like any other job, you will need certain know-hows to excel at your job. Physical Therapist Assistants are generally very knowledgeable in these 5 key areas.

1. Customer and Personal Service what does this mean
2. English Language what does this mean
3. Medicine and Dentistry what does this mean
4. Psychology what does this mean
5. Therapy and Counseling what does this mean

Learn more about Physical Therapist Assistants

Job Description
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Related to Physical Therapist Assistants Requirements

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