Physical Therapist Assistants and Online Education
Becoming a physical therapy assistant can be an excellent choice for an individual who is considering a professional career in the healthcare sector. Physical therapy assistants have a wide range of potential career options across the entire United States. Furthermore, physical therapy assistants enjoy excellent professional and earning opportunities, making this career a very attractive one.
However, physical therapy assistants must be licensed by the state where they work. In order to obtain licensure, the candidate must satisfy the state organization in charge of licensing physical therapy assistants that he or she has completed all of the required steps. These steps usually include the following:
- Completing an accredited physical therapist assistant program.
- Taking the National Physical Therapist Examination (NPTE) and obtaining a passing score.
- In some cases, the state may require that the candidate take and pass a jurisprudence examination.
- Most states also require a background check for all candidates. If the student has a criminal record, it is wise to ensure that the offense will not make the candidate ineligible for state licensure.
Physical Therapy Assistant Programs
Physical therapy assistant programs are generally two-year programs that confer an associate’s degree upon graduation. These programs focus on the academic and practical knowledge needed in order to provide effective physical therapy care. In addition to full-time programs, there are part-time programs for those students who cannot attend a traditional class schedule. This is especially helpful for those students who must work while attending the program, as many part-time classes take place in the evenings and on the weekends.
Many physical therapy assistant programs also include clinical work, where the students gain hands-on experience under the direct supervision of their instructors and other professionals. This allows them to obtain valuable training in the practical aspects of physical therapy, in addition to helping the students gain confidence in their abilities as they work with actual patients.
The Importance of Accreditation
All states require that any therapy assistant program be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). CAPTE provides accreditation services for all programs in the United States. Accreditation verifies that the program adheres to certain standards of educational and technical excellence and that it will adequately prepare the students for both the physical therapist assistant profession and the NPTE.
Students should be very careful to ensure that their program is currently in good standing with CAPTE, as a non-accredited program will not be accepted by most states. In most cases, the student can check with their program advisor, CAPTE, or their state’s licensing bureau in order to determine if the school’s program is currently in good standing.
Online Physical Assistant Programs
Some students face difficulties in attending a program in person. In some cases, it is due to having to work irregular hours during the academic year. In other cases, the student may have family obligations that make it difficult to set aside a regular time to attend classes. No matter the reason, the student can enter a program that offers online classes in order to complete his or her course work on an independent schedule.
Online programs incorporate both text and video in their class materials and are accessible at all times via the student’s home computer. In many cases, the student will view recorded class sessions that are made during the regular classes. These recordings allow the student to study them at his or her own pace. In addition, online programs offer email or chat interaction with the instructor, allowing a student to quickly receive answers to any questions that are not addressed by the video presentations.
In some cases, online programs will require the student to physically attend classes. These classes include clinical workshops and training, where the student must physically demonstrate his or her abilities, as well as major tests. However, even in those cases the online student will have a great deal of freedom in scheduling his or her attendance in order to ensure that it does not conflict with other commitments.
The Benefits of Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant
Currently, physical therapist assistants enjoy excellent employment and wage options. As a part of a fast growing component of America’s primary care sector, it is very likely that these opportunities will continue to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that physical therapist assistants will enjoy about a 46 percent increase in available jobs, resulting in nearly 100,000 available careers by 2020. Furthermore, when career openings due to retirement and other causes are factored in, it becomes plain that physical therapist assistants will face excellent employment opportunities across the entire United States.
In addition, the median annual wage for physical therapist assistants is nearly $50,000, with experienced individuals or those who focus on highly demanded specialties earning considerably more. This compares very favorably with other professions that demand a similar educational investment and in fact exceeds the median wage for a number of professions that require a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree.
Because of these factors, becoming a licensed physical therapy assistant is an excellent decision for the individual who is entering the job market for the first time. Additionally, those individuals who are currently seeking to transition to a more rewarding career from their current jobs will find becoming a physical therapist assistant a rewarding career. Finally, by making use of online programs, it becomes possible to obtain the needed education to become a therapist assistant even if the student is currently working. This makes becoming a physical therapy assistant a choice available to all individuals, regardless of their experience or current job status.
A Selection of Online and Correspondence PTA Schools