How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant

The employment of physical therapist assistants will grow 32 percent through the next decade. These professionals are in hot demand!

You’ve made a smart decision to pursue a career as a physical therapy assistant. You’ll get to work in a healthcare environment, helping patients recover from injuries, manage pain, and regain movement.

But while getting a job won’t be a problem, you first must secure the necessary employment qualifications. In this article, we are sharing a guide on how to become a physical therapist assistant.

Let’s get into it.

Get an Associate Degree in Physical Therapy

Like most jobs in healthcare, becoming a physical therapist assistant requires professional training.

The first step to becoming a physical therapist assistant is to pursue an associate’s degree in physical therapy education. A closely related field, such as occupational science, can also do. Ensure the program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

You’ll learn medical terminology, human anatomy, and physical therapy fundamentals. Other courses include kinesiology, disability procedures, pathophysiology, and musculoskeletal conditions.

A typical program will last 5 semesters, with one half comprising theory and classroom study, and the other half dedicated to clinical and laboratory work. By the end of the program, you should be in a position to administer basic therapeutic exercises under the supervision of a physical therapist.

Get Licensed to Practice in Your State

In all states, it’s mandatory for all physical therapist assistants to obtain an occupational license. Licensure requirements typically include graduation from an accredited program and passing the National Physical Therapy Exam. This exam is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).

What if you graduated from a program that isn’t CAPTE approved? Most states, as well as the FSBPT, allow for the review of an applicant’s professional education. A determination will be made on whether you meet the eligibility requirements.

It’s not unheard of for applicants to fail the licensure exam. If that happens, you cannot practice until you’ve passed the exam. To improve your chances, use additional study resources such as those available on

Depending on your state, you might also need to undergo a criminal background check and pass a state-specific exam that tests your understanding of the state’s laws regulating the occupation.

Find Employment as a Physical Therapist Assistant

You’ve passed your licensure examination. Hurray!

Now, your task is to find a job and start working. While there are plenty of vacancies, it’s important to note that you can find a job in various healthcare settings. Offices of physical and occupational therapists are the major employers. You can also work in hospitals, offices of physicians, and nursing care facilities.

You can make direct applications to these facilities, but it’s best to use recruiting service providers.

Pursue Your Dream!

The job of a physical therapist assistant can be rewarding in many ways. The compensation is competitive and you have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your patients and their families. With this guide, your career path is now well-illuminated. Follow it!

Keep tabs on our blog for more career guides and advice.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top