Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant Schools and Licensure

Licensed physical therapist assistants support physical therapists in helping those with injury or disease return to optimum health. Read on to find out what education you'll need to become one and how you can earn your license. Schools offering Physical Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

To become a licensed physical therapist assistant, you will need an associate's degree from an accredited institution. Check with the Commission on Accreditation for Physical Therapy Education to verify that a program is accredited. You will also probably need to pass an exam and get a license.

Degree Associate's degree
Courses Physiology, physical therapy, medical terminology
Licensing Required in all states

What is the Role of a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)?

As a licensed PTA, you would aid physical therapists in diagnosing, treating and monitoring patients who have physical injuries or diseases that hinder their ability to function normally. You might be called upon to assist patients with rehabilitation or therapeutic exercises as part of your daily routine. You also might assist in advising patients on personal health and fitness or disease and injury prevention. You could work in hospitals, physical therapy offices, schools, nursing centers and sports facilities.

What Education Do I Need?

Most states require that you complete an associate's degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), which currently accredits programs at 242 community colleges, colleges and universities nationwide ( You must graduate from a CAPTE-accredited program to sit for your licensure examination. Some accredited schools include:

  • Mott Community College
  • Midlands Technical College
  • Spokane Falls Community College
  • Gateway Technical College
  • Western Technical College
  • Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

What Are the Admissions Requirements?

Admissions requirements might include a high school diploma or GED, current immunizations, a health screening and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. Educational requirements might include having taken previous coursework in math, psychology, and anatomy and physiology (with lab). Having taken placement tests can satisfy some of these course requirements.

What Topics Might I Study?

PTA associate degree programs combine classes in math, humanities and science with classes and laboratory work in physical therapy assisting. These programs also give you clinical experience with a licensed physical therapist. Your coursework likely will cover the following subjects:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Orthopedics
  • Exercise therapy
  • Kinesiology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical therapy
  • Medical terminology

Can I Earn My PTA Degree Online?

You may not be able to earn your degree completely online because all PTA programs include laboratory and clinical requirements. However, according to the APTA, you may be able to complete some of your courses online.

How Do I Obtain My License?

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) reports that all states along with Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia (D.C.) and the U.S. Virgin Islands require PTAs to be licensed, certified or registered ( After you earn your degree, you'll be eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), which is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. The NPTE ensures that you have the quality training, skills and knowledge required to practice physical therapy assisting. Some states may have additional requirements for licensing, continuing education or license renewal, so it's best to consult your state licensing office.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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