In order to obtain a physical therapy assistant certification , candidates must fulfill specific education and testing requirements, as they must hold a state-issued license in order to practice, and to be employed.
To earn a physical therapy assistant certification so they may use the title of Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA), students must pass a national board examination in the field, which makes them eligible to apply for licensure within a state.
Passing the exam and obtaining licensure will depend greatly on the education each student has enrolled in beforehand, as there are a number of programs available to learn to become a PTA.
Physical Therapy Assistant Certification Education Programs
In the US there are a number of college and vocational programs available that can train a person in becoming a physical therapy assistant. Vocational or business school programs tend to be shorter, around a year in length, while Associates Degree programs with a specialty for PTA is two years.
Since there is no actual certification test to graduate, the only test being the national board exam given by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT), technically the training course does not matter as long as the student is able to learn what is necessary to pass the test.
Most employers who hire PTAs do look for those who have an Associates Degree, however, regardless of the candidate having passed the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
With this in mind, it is recommended that anyone interested in becoming a physical therapy assistant enroll in an Associates Degree program, which – while taking longer to complete – offers a much more in-depth education, as well as the benefit of having earned a college degree.
Why You Need to Be Thinking About Your Degree Now
Anyone wishing to continue their education to complete training to become a licensed physical therapist will have no problem in doing so if they have already started out with the more preferred, physical therapy assistant degree program.
Also, according to national physical therapy associations and other resources in the healthcare industry it is likely that within the next few years the requirements to become a PTA will move from a recommended Associates Degree to a required 4-year Bachelors Degree; those who have already completed their Associates will be much further ahead in the game if additional education becomes necessary even for those already licensed and employed in the field.
In either case, enrolling in a course that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) is a requirement in many states, therefore not just any physical therapy programs will do. Students should verify accreditation before enrolling and beginning their education, Penn foster career school would be an excellent place to start any serious course.
Information For UK Physical Therapy Assistants
In the UK, while there are no specific certifications for a physiotherapy assistant either, and the physical therapy assistant requirements are based mostly on job experience in the field, it is possible to obtain the role of Assistant Practitioner in areas of physiotherapy, such as with stroke patients, cardiac patients, etc.
Obtaining certification for these specific, more advanced positions does require some secondary, college-level education in some cases, and fulfillment of on the job requirements, all of which differ depending on the specialty. Specialty positions are regulated by the NHS, which also provides guidance in helping physiotherapy assistants earn the more advanced qualifications so they may then work as Assistant Practitioners in physiotherapy resulting in much higher physical therapy assistant salary .
Additionally, there are college degree programs and vocational programs where students can learn to become a physiotherapy assistant, but this type of physical therapy assistant certification exam are not required for employment on the basic, entry level.
Obtaining Physical Therapy Assistant Certification Licensure
In the US, once a student has completed their formal education, whether a 2-year degree or a shorter vocational program, they must then sit for the board exam given by the FSBPT. Only upon passing the NPTE exam can the student then use the title of Physical Therapy Assistant and apply for state licensure so that they may be employed.
Currently, 48 of 50 states – Colorado and Hawaii being the only exceptions – require a state physical therapy assistant license in order for someone to work as a PTA within that state. If a PTA moves to another state they are required to once again provide proof of having passed their board exam, and apply for a new license to practice.
With the growth of the healthcare industry in the US, the UK, and seemingly the world over, now is a great time to get the necessary education to become a PTA , OTA or physiotherapy assistant. In the US especially, considering that educational requirements are likely to increase, earning an Associates Degree ( Penn Foster Career School ) and getting a physical therapy assistant certification license today may end up being a big help in the future as well.