How To Be A Certified Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA)

Today we will learn more on how to be a certified physical therapist assistant. Physical therapy is a branch of health care that focuses on remedying or rehabilitating different disabilities and impairments related to physical movement and mobility. It is also the field of medical study that promotes and executes different kinds of tests, diagnoses, and evaluations in relation to this.

This field uses different kinds of physical interventions and methods to be able to improve the physical and functional abilities of a person that underwent such injuries and debilities. Aside from certified physical therapists, physical therapy assistants (PTAs) also aid patients in improving their present conditions by means of physical therapy.

Physical therapists (PT) are the main medical practitioners that execute such rehabilitation. However, you can also become a physical therapy assistant to be able to work closely with them at a health care setting.

PTA Training

Compared to physical therapists, a physical therapy assistant (PTA) is only required to fulfill at least one to two years of certificate or associate program to qualify for such position. With this kind of training, the aspiring physical therapy assistant would become more familiar with different skills needed to assist physical therapists.

Duties usually include the practical application of cold, electrical or hot stimuli, execute how to assist patients while they are performing particular exercises, perform various therapeutic massages and become more adept in organizing patients’ records that certified physical therapists would often supervise.

To enter such program, an aspiring physical therapy assistant would need to have at least a high school diploma or should have passed the GED. Preferably, the interesting individual should have also taken courses in health science and natural science to be able to easily grasp concepts and other knowledge in connection with the coursework of a physical therapy assistant.

Within the two years of training, the physical therapy assistant certificate program would cover basic medical science and other related general education subjects.

Among the different courses that would be taken during the program are:-

  • anatomy and physiology
  • sports performance related courses
  • human development and biology
  • chemistry
  • general psychology
  • English composition and medical vocabulary.

Once the physical therapy assistant student graduates, he may then take the necessary permit or registration to be able to work in a professional setting.


The National Physical Therapy Examination or NPTE is the official examination for therapists and assistants. However, therapists’ examinations have a much broader scope covering more technical and medically related questions.

Some states are much stricter and would often ask for additional requirements, however most of physical therapy assistants are only often regulated by means of having proper certification and registration and by passing the NPTE.

Since some states would also obliged for you to have a license to practice, additional courses are need to be taken to be able to complete such requirements. Aside from the mentioned subjects, actual hands-on clinical experience is also required during the course. During the student’s second year, he is required to work within a supervised and controlled environment to be able to apply and assess the knowledge he had acquired during the various lecture classes.

A physical therapy assistant candidate may also opt to become a physical therapy aide for a while. In this, he may work right away with a physical therapist, however he cannot perform any duties related to assisting rehabilitation and medical related procedures. If an aspiring assistant is only after becoming more familiar with the actual set up, this kind of training can be helpful.

Once he gained the knowledge he is after to observed, he may continue finishing the assistant program to be able to work as a legitimate physical therapy assistant instead. Also learn more on accredited physical therapy schools.

We hope this post answers your questions on how to be a certified physical therapy assistant in the US.