What Degree Do You Need for a Physical Therapist Assistant?

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Are you interested in pursuing a career as a physical therapist assistant? As the demand for healthcare professionals continues to rise, physical therapist assistants play a vital role in helping patients recover and regain their mobility. But what degree do you need to become a physical therapist assistant? In this article, we’ll explore the educational requirements, benefits of earning a degree, and provide answers to frequently asked questions about this rewarding career path.

Educational Requirements for Physical Therapist Assistants

To become a physical therapist assistant, you’ll need to complete an accredited program. These programs are designed to equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to assist physical therapists in providing quality care to patients. While some institutions offer bachelor’s degree programs, most physical therapist assistant programs award an associate degree.

During your coursework, you’ll delve into subjects like anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, therapeutic exercise, and patient care techniques. Additionally, you’ll gain hands-on experience through clinical training, where you’ll work directly with patients under the supervision of licensed physical therapists.

Benefits of Earning a Degree for a Physical Therapist Assistant

Obtaining a degree as a physical therapist assistant offers numerous advantages that can enhance your career prospects and open doors to new opportunities.

Increased Job Opportunities

With a degree in hand, you’ll have a competitive edge in the job market. Many employers prefer hiring candidates who have completed accredited programs and earned their associate degree. This qualification demonstrates your commitment to the field and your dedication to providing high-quality patient care.

Higher Earning Potential

Earning a degree can also lead to higher earning potential as a physical therapist assistant. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for physical therapist assistants in the United States was $59,770 in May 2020. By investing in your education, you increase your chances of securing well-paying positions within the healthcare industry.

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Enhanced Knowledge and Skills

Through a comprehensive degree program, you’ll develop a strong foundation in the principles of physical therapy. You’ll gain valuable insights into anatomy, biomechanics, therapeutic interventions, and patient assessment. This knowledge will enable you to provide effective treatment plans and collaborate seamlessly with physical therapists to optimize patient outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What degree is required to become a physical therapist assistant?

To become a physical therapist assistant, you typically need to earn an associate degree. While some institutions offer bachelor’s degree programs, an associate degree is the most common requirement for entry into this profession.

2. Can you become a physical therapist assistant with just a high school diploma?

No, a high school diploma is not sufficient to become a physical therapist assistant. Completing an accredited physical therapist assistant program and earning an associate degree is necessary to meet the educational requirements for this career.

3. Are online programs available for physical therapist assistants?

Yes, there are online programs available for individuals interested in becoming physical therapist assistants. However, it’s essential to ensure that the online program you choose is accredited and meets the necessary educational standards.

4. How long does it take to complete a physical therapist assistant program?

The duration of a physical therapist assistant program can vary depending on the institution and program structure. Typically, it takes around two years of full-time study to complete an associate degree program.

5. What are the prerequisites for physical therapist assistant programs?

Prerequisites for physical therapist assistant programs can vary, but most programs require applicants to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some programs may also require specific coursework in subjects like biology or anatomy.

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6. Can you specialize in a specific area as a physical therapist assistant?

While physical therapist assistants cannot specialize in the same way as physical therapists, they can gain expertise in particular areas through continuing education and additional certifications. These specializations can include pediatrics, geriatrics, sports rehabilitation, or orthopedics.

Career Outlook for Physical Therapist Assistants

The future looks promising for physical therapist assistants. As the aging population continues to grow, the demand for rehabilitative services is expected to increase. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 33 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Physical therapist assistants can find employment opportunities in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, private clinics, nursing homes, and home healthcare agencies. Additionally, as you gain experience and expertise, you may have the opportunity to advance your career by taking on leadership roles or pursuing further education in physical therapy.


In conclusion, pursuing a degree as a physical therapist assistant is crucial for a successful career in this field. Not only does it increase your job prospects and earning potential, but it also equips you with the necessary knowledge and skills to make a positive impact on the lives of patients. By completing an accredited program and earning your associate degree, you’ll position yourself as a qualified and competent professional in the dynamic and rewarding world of physical therapy. So, if you have a passion for helping others and a desire to make a difference, consider embarking on this educational journey to become a physical therapist assistant.

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