For some people, the attractive starting salary of around $46,000 can be the incentive to enroll in one of the many physical therapy assistant programs. For others, it may be a vocational call where they can use their skills to give someone a greater quality of life. Others still may want the freedom and flexibility that a job in this area brings. Whatever the reason you choose to join the ranks of the physical therapy assistants, you will first of all need to find a physical therapy assistant program for your training.
Training to be a physical therapy assistant requires at least 2 years after finishing your higher education. To be able to enroll with online physical therapy assistant programs there is no one sure qualification you need to have. It is always good to have a high school diploma, but in the absence of this you may enroll in some of the programs with coursework from high school in math and science to a certain level. To this end, you must have a grade of at least ‘C’. The schools, colleges and online programs vary so check with your chosen school what is required before applying, to avoid disappointment. If you do not have the necessary prerequisites then some programs may enable you to take an entrance examination to ensure you the have the necessary capabilities and basic understanding to be able to complete the course.
There are many roads to studying for physical therapy, but it is always best to choose accredited physical therapy assistant programs that are overseen by the American Physical Therapy Association. This ensures they adhere to the guidelines set out by the APTA and follow a prescribed set of ethics and include the correct modules for the course. A qualification that is from an accredited school is always more acceptable to an employer than one that is not. Additionally, as this is a popular area of study, you may find that local colleges have a waiting list for admitting students. Therefore, you may need to consider other alternatives, such as online physical therapy assistant programs.
The accredited physical therapy assistant programs will follow a pattern of study and will include modules such as algebra, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, psychology, therapeutic interventions, treatment programs and exercise science. Clearly, the theory will have to be backed by practical assessment too, so this is included in the program. A placement may be with any medical institution and you may not be able to get your first choice, but once you have obtained your qualification, medical experience and can legally practise, you will be able to get a job in your chosen area of preference.
After completing the 2 years and obtaining your associate degree, you may be required to pass further examinations before you can be employed. Many states require a physical therapy assistant to be licensed, as with a physical therapist, so you will need to sit a further examination in order to obtain your license to practise in a particular state. Although CPR and first aid are not specific modules of the associate degree for physical therapy, they are helpful in obtaining a job. In fact, some states insist that you have these certifications too. It does make prudent sense after all.
Although you may not be guaranteed a job after qualifying, physical therapy has more hope than most occupations as it continues to rise in popularity. With the advancement of technology and the increase in an aging population, there will always be a call for help in this area, whether that is in hospitals, private medical facilities, or home care. Even if you are not able to get a permanent job, there are many people who enjoy the variety that temp jobs bring. In fact, some people have only ever had a temp job, as it gives them a greater deal of flexibility over their lives whilst offering good remuneration. Salaries for temp jobs are generally a little higher, which can give that flexibility, and so if you decide you don’t want to work one week then you can take that option. Other people prefer the stability that this career gives them and it is not usual to find physical therapy assistants who have been in the same job for 20 years or more.