Physical Therapy Assistant Requirements | Credentials

Physical Therapy Assistant Requirements

For those interested in a career in this rewarding field, the following are physical therapy assistant requirements you will need to meet before, during, and after your training.

Personal Qualities

  • Well organized
  • Detail oriented
  • Caring
  • Able and willing to take direction
  • Work well in a team situation
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Desire to help people

Educational Requirements
All potential physical therapy assistants (PTA) must have completed a high school education or equivalent. Beyond high school, all states require that physical therapy assistants complete an education training program

Certification, Licensure, and Registration Requirements
Requirements for physical therapy assistants vary from state-to-state regarding certification, licensure, and registration. Currently 45 states require PTAs to obtain either a certificate, license, or register. States that require licensure have specific stipulations regarding educational and examinations criteria. CPR and First Aid certification as well as a minimum number of fieldwork hours may also be required.

States that issue a physical therapy assistant license require that it be renewed on a regular basis. Typically licenses are issued for two years and can be renewed with your state board of licensing and regulations. There may also be additional requirements to renew your license such as continuing education classes, updated CPR certification and exam.

Continuing Education Requirements
Continuing education requirements for physical therapy assistants vary from state-to-state. Some states require as many as 20 continuing education hours every two years, while some states require none. Most employers prefer all PTAs to keep their CPR and First-Aid training up to date. Physical therapy assistants should also note that continuing education requirements are in a constant state of change. As legislature works harder to ensure that all patients are properly and safely cared for, they increase the accountability and standards to which medical professionals are held.

Advancement Options
Advancing as a physical therapy assistant is difficult, but not unattainable. Work experience is the best way to start to advance. Focusing on specific clinical areas after graduation should be the primary advancement focus of a new PTA. Additionally, PTAs can further their opportunities for advancement by becoming educated in the following physical therapy specialties which will gain recognition by the American Physical Therapy Association: o Cardiopulmonary o Geriatrics o Integumentary o Musculoskeletal o Neuromuscular o Pediatrics PTAs can also advance in non-clinical areas such as administrative and educational positions. If you are a PTA interested in becoming a physical therapist, look in to the limited PTA to PT education programs, as usually physical therapy assistants need quite a bit of additional education and training to become a physical therapist.

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