Interested in training to become a physical therapist assistant (PTA)? Excellent choice! It’s a rewarding career path that allows you to make a positive impact in the lives of others. Check out our 5-step guide on how to get started.
Step 1: Learn about what a PTA is and what they do.
The most important step to becoming a physical therapy assistant is learning about the role to make sure it aligns with your goals and interests. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PTAs day-to-day tasks include:
- Observing patients before, during, and after therapy
- Helping patients do specific exercises as part of their plan of care
- Treating patients using a variety of techniques, such as massage and stretching
- Using devices and equipment (such as walkers) to help patients
- Educating patients and family members about post-treatment care[i]
You can always learn more about physical therapist assistants in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Step 2: Find the right PTA program.
Do your research and find a PTA program that meets your needs. Some important aspects to consider when researching programs include program length, clinical hour requirements, format (online vs. campus), program cost, financial aid availability, and accreditation.
For example, ACC’s Physical Therapist Assistant program is available at both our Orange County (Anaheim) and Ontario campuses. The blended curriculum combines online classes with in-person instruction and can be completed in just 20 months. Learn more about the Physical Therapist Assistant Program at ACC!
Step 3: Enroll and complete coursework.
This is where the fun begins! Your courses will give you the knowledge you need to be a successful PTA.
Some of the exciting courses PTA students complete at ACC include:
- Anatomy and Physiology for Rehab Professionals
- Professional Communications
- Principles of Rehabilitation
- PTA Law, Ethics, and Professionalism
In addition, our program includes a minimum of 600 clinical hours that students complete at a local healthcare facility. Between coursework and the completion of the required clinical hours, your program will help prepare you for your next step.
Step 4: Earn your PTA licensure.
Before you can find your first PTA role, you must pass your licensure exam. All states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed or certified.1 This is what ensures that you are prepared to enter the field and meet all requirements.
Our ACC curriculum includes a licensure exam review to help you prepare.
Step 5: Find your first role as a licensed PTA.
Once you have earned your PTA license, you are ready to find your first role as a physical therapist assistant. According to the BLS, PTAs work in a variety of roles, including:
- Offices of physical therapists
- Home healthcare services
- Nursing care facilities
- Offices of physicians
At ACC, you also get the support of a dedicated Career Services team that can help you with writing your resume, preparing for interviews, and more. Whatever school you go to, ask about career guidance and support when you’re ready to apply for jobs.
Want to learn more about becoming a PTA? Check out our program page for more information!
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides