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Posted By: Amanda | Posted In: Physical Therapist | March 7, 2023
become a physical therapist assistant

Pursuing a career as a physical therapist assistant (PTA) can be a rewarding way to make a difference in patients’ lives. Working under the direction of a physical therapist (PT), a physical therapist assistant provides care to patients and works with the PT and larger care team to modify care to best help their patients. Many patients seeking physical therapy are recovering from an injury or trying to treat a disability or other health problems. By working as a physical therapist assistant, you can help your patients recover from injuries, manage pain, and ultimately live healthier lives. PTAs perform the following job responsibilities:

  • Evaluate and treat patients
  • Work with PTs to help plan specific treatment programs for patients
  • Administer exercises and techniques to increase strength and relieve pain
  • Maintain patient records
  • Provide at-home instructions and care plans so patients can replicate the exercises performed during physical therapy

The career outlook for physical therapist assistants is excellent, boasting a seven times higher growth rate than average in the United States. In addition, it can require as little as five semesters of coursework.

How to Become a Physical Therapist

  1. High School Diploma or GED. The first step in becoming a physical therapist assistant is obtaining a high school diploma or GED. Taking classes in anatomy and physiology, or any type of general science, can be helpful to prepare for a future PTA program.
  2. Apply to an Accredited PTA Program. After obtaining your high school diploma or GED, students interested in pursuing a career as a PTA must apply to a PTA program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
  3. Complete your PTA Degree. Most PTA schools offer an associate degree program that is approximately two years, or five semesters, long. Typically PTA programs offer a blend of traditional coursework and clinical experiences in which the student will participate in hands-on experiences with a PT. Students will study a variety of topics, focusing on areas in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and hands-on skills and techniques.
  4. Complete the Clinical Training Practicum Requirement. In order to become a licensed physical therapist assistant, students will need to complete 16 weeks of clinical training. This will involve working under the guidance of a physical therapist to obtain real-world experience helping patients and performing the work of a PTA. Schools offering PTA degree programs typically help their students arrange clinical work with a licensed PT.
  5. Get your PTA License. Each state has a slightly different process for obtaining a PTA license. Typically, students will need to send a copy of their transcript to the state-specific physical therapy board, pay a fee, and take any state-specific PTA exams. If students plan to work in multiple states, they may take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE). For Florida residents, the Florida Board of Physical Therapy (FBPT) approves all PTA licenses. Florida residents can obtain a PTA license by completing the Florida PTA licensure application and passing the Florida Laws and Rules Exam and the NPTE. In Florida, if a candidate has already passed the NPTE and holds a PTA license in another state, candidates can apply for a Florida PTA license by endorsement.
  6. Find a Job as a PTA. After obtaining licensure, students are eligible to begin practice as a physical therapist assistant. PTAs can find work in a variety of settings including physical therapy clinics, private practice, hospital systems, and nursing homes or geriatric care facilities. 
  7. Complete Continuing Education Classes to Maintain your PTA License. PTAs must only pass the NPTE once to obtain licensure, however, PTAs must participate in continuing education classes to maintain their license.

SABER College’s PTA Program

SABER College offers a PTA education through the best Miami PTA school. Students will learn through a unique mix of theory, clinical work, and skills training, obtaining valuable knowledge through training in real-world medical settings. Coursework will include 76 credit hours of in-depth study in the following topics:

  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Psychology
  • Medical and Healthcare Terminology
  • Anatomy and Kinesiology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Therapeutic Procedures
  • Tests and Measurements
  • Pathophysiology
  • Therapeutic Exercise
  • Rehabilitation

The program includes a clinical education course component that provides students with real-life experience in physical therapy work settings.The majority of the student’s fifth and final semester will focus on clinical work and practicing for the NPTE.

How to Register for SABER College’s PTA Program

Are you ready to take the next step in your career? SABER College’s Physical Therapist Assistant program is here to support you with skilled instructors and applicable real-world clinical experience, offering both traditional and hybrid learning models. Contact us today to schedule a campus tour and request a course catalog. We look forward to helping you achieve your dream of becoming a physical therapist assistant!