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How to Become a Physical Therapy Aide

How do I become a physical therapy aide?

Individuals who are drawn to the career can pursue formal academic certification through physical therapy aide programs. This provides a foundation in medical terminology and therapeutic principles that can be extremely helpful in the clinical setting. Some choose to move into the career from other health care related professions, such as certified nurse assisting.

No medical degree is necessary to become a physical therapy aide, which makes it a compelling introduction to the field of rehabilitation therapy for people considering a career as physical or occupational therapists. Some choose to complete a physical therapy aide certification

How do I know if becoming a physical therapy aide is a good choice for me?

Call your local hospital or an outpatient clinic to find out if they use physical therapy aides or rehabilitation technicians in their therapy departments. Ask if you can come visit the facility and spend some time observing and talking to physical therapy aides and therapists. Ask what makes the job rewarding and what the challenges are. Find out what kind of formal education your facility of interest may be looking for, and what types of experience they prefer a candidate to have.

If you are interested in becoming a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or PT or OT assistant, entering the profession as a therapy aide may also be a good choice. This can help meet contact hour requirements that some departments have for admission, while offering a real-world introduction to the field of rehabilitation that other students may not have until much later in their education.


How do I apply to a certification program for physical therapy aides?

For people interested in obtaining physical therapy aide certification, applying to a learning institution that offers an appropriate program is a very manageable process. Academic certification is based on learning and instruction and not dependent on a degree, so the application process is often simple and streamlined. Courses take only a few months, and most learning materials can be purchased directly through the program.

What qualities does a good physical therapy aide possess?

The first quality a PT aide should have is a strong desire to help people and to make a difference in the lives of others. While the amount of actual hands-on care a PT aide may provide varies, he or she will still always have lots of contact with people who have been ill or injured and a strong sense of compassion and commitment creates the best relationship with patients and leads to the greatest satisfaction in one’s work. Beyond that, PT aides do well when they are detail oriented, organized, work well under pressure, are effective multi-taskers that take direction well. Because PT aides function in a therapy support role, instructions may come from physical therapists, assistants, and the department director. A good physical therapy aide needs to be a good listener.

Because physical therapy aide jobs involve interacting with patients, even if the support they provide is more administrative than clinical, it is essential that PT aides have good communication skills and provide excellent customer service.  Patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings will be struggling with any number of illnesses or injuries, so a PT aid’s ability to listen well and offer support and attention will help improve the patient experience.

Physical Therapy Aide Schools