Physical Therapy Assistant Online Classes

Some hybrid programs allow aspiring physical therapy assistants to take a good portion of their classes online, but they will need to spend some time on campus to earn an associate degree. Schools offering Physical Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Kinds of Online Programs Are Available?

To become a physical therapy assistant (PTA), one must obtain an associate degree from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). While students are expected to be physically present for laboratory and clinical sessions, a handful of programs allow students to take most of their classes online.

By choosing to take lecture classes online, students can obtain more flexibility with their schedules; however, they must also be dedicated, organized and self-motivated in order to complete all necessary coursework on time.

Online ProgramsHybrid associate degree programs with mostly online classes
PrerequisitesCombination of general education requirements, specific coursework, ACT scores and/or GPA of 2.5 or higher
CourseworkAnatomy & physiology, exercise physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, neuroscience, clinical pathology, behavioral sciences, physical therapy procedures, joint structure and function, rehabilitation techniques
Median Annual Salary (2018) and Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)$48,090; 30% increase (for physical therapist assistants and aides)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Prerequisites Are Needed to Enroll?

To enroll in a PTA associate degree program, students must have obtained a certain number of general education credits in subjects such as English, math, biology, psychology and communications. Students are also often expected to have taken coursework specific to their chosen field of study, covering such areas as mathematics for health careers or the musculoskeletal system. Some programs require ACT composite scores of around 21 or higher and a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above. These requirements vary depending on each institution.

What Are the Requirements to Become a PTA?

Aspiring PTAs must obtain an associate degree, which typically takes two years - or five semesters of classes - to complete. They are then expected to pass a national licensing/certification exam in most states prior to beginning work.

Coursework can include the following:

  • Anatomy & physiology
  • Exercise physiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Kinesiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Clinical pathology
  • Behavioral sciences
  • Physical therapy procedures
  • Joint structure and function
  • Rehabilitation techniques

For PTAs wishing to continue their education, it's possible to obtain a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited institution. There are also clinical residencies and fellowships available to expand one's knowledge and experience, or specialty certifications enabling therapists to focus their practice.

What Job Options Are Available to PTAs?

PTAs are trained to assist licensed physical therapists in providing services. They work with patients of all ages and backgrounds to help them overcome medical conditions that cause problems with movement and make daily tasks difficult. Working as a PTA typically necessitates a certain level of physical fitness, as work requirements include lifting, bending and extended periods spent standing.

Some of the work environments in which PTAs can find themselves include:

  • Hospitals
  • Private practices
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Home health
  • Nursing homes
  • Schools
  • Inpatient rehabilitation facilities
  • Education or research centers
  • Hospices
  • Industrial, workplace or other occupational environments
  • Fitness centers and sports training facilities

The job outlook for physical therapist assistants and aides is expected to grow 30 percent from 2016 to 2026 - more than four times the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Physical therapist assistants and aides earned a median annual salary of $48,090 in 2018, the same agency reported.

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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