If you have a passion for being active and a heart for helping others, then it’s no surprise you’re considering becoming a physical therapist assistant (PTA). Not only do these healthcare pros have the rewarding opportunity to help improve the quality of life of others, but they are also desperately needed in today’s healthcare system.
Learn how to become a physical therapist aide. Hear about education, licensure and experience requirements for starting a career in physical therapy, as well as common job duties.
How To Become a Physical Therapist Aide
1.Obtain Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification
Most employers require physical therapist aides to earn Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Providers certification from the American Heart Association. Students can earn certification by completing a short, 4.5-hour course and passing an examination.
The BLS for Healthcare Providers course covers CPR procedures, and it also goes over how to relieve choking and use an automated external defibrillator (AED). The BLS certification must be renewed every two years after taking a 4-hour renewal course.
2.Complete On-the-Job Training
Most physical therapist aides learn the skills they need for employment through on-the-job training. This training can last anywhere from a few months to a year, depending on the employer’s requirements and how quickly the physical therapist aide learns.
Training may cover sterilizing equipment and treatment areas, performing office procedures and identifying physical therapy equipment.
- Develop key skills. While completing their training, aspiring aides might develop soft skills for the job, such as interpersonal skills and attention to detail. They will also want to build the stamina and manual dexterity required to perform a physical therapist aide’s duties.
3. Consider Advancement Opportunities
Physical therapist aides may consider continuing their education to become physical therapist assistants. Physical therapist assistants usually need to complete an associate’s degree program, including traditional coursework and clinical training and passing the National Physical Therapy Exam to become licensed.
However, requirements for entry into this profession vary by state. A physical therapist assistant performs more specialized duties involving direct patient care than does an aide. Common duties include educating patients, observing patients during therapy, assisting patients with exercises and reporting directly to a physical therapist.
Though a high school diploma is the only educational requirement needed to find work as a physical therapy aide, those interested in the career should obtain basic life support certification and prepare for on-the-job training.
Physical Therapist Aide Career Info
|Education Required||High school diploma or equivalent
|Certification||Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers
certification is often required
|Experience||This is an entry-level position, so none is required;
some employers may prefer candidates
who have one year of experience working in a
hospital, outpatient or similar clinical setting
|Key Skills||Attention to detail; excellent manual dexterity;
interpersonal skills; ability to stand,
bend and kneel for long periods of time
|Salary||$$28,285 Average annual wage|