How to Become a Physical Therapist Aide – Steps to take

How to become a physical therapist aide
If you are interested in becoming a physical therapist aide, then you need to know all that you can about the profession and how to start a career in it. Image source:

The choice to become a physical therapist aide is great if you like working with patients and helping them to get well.

Now, here is a plan you can follow to achieving your dream of working as an aide to physical therapists and succeeding in your career.

Who is a Physical Therapist Aide?

A physical therapist aide is one who assists a medical therapist to prepare to attend to patients.

His/her business is basically to help the physical therapist to be more productive and efficient in carrying out their tasks.

This position involves various functions and is different from the physical therapist assistant role. See job description for physical therapist aide and physical therapist assistant roles.

Educational Requirements to Becoming a Physical Therapist Aide

The initial steps towards becoming an aide to a physical therapist include getting a high school certificate or its equivalent.

Although aides may be required to possess associate degrees in some states, other facilities may think a high school cert. serves just fine.

Trainings are usually received on the job lasting from about three months to one year, and then learning on the field from skilled employees.

Within the training, the physical therapist aide is likely to be exposed to lessons on how to keep areas for therapy sessions clean and well prepared; where to access patient’s information; how to set up and dismantle therapy equipment; ways to assist patients during therapy sessions; and clerical function they may be needed to perform during the physical clinical trainings.

Other training lessons can be in medical terminologies, fundamentals of physical therapy, issues in clinical practice, kinesiology, and pathophysiology.

Physical Therapist Aide Certification

The first certificate you may likely obtain as a physical therapist aide is that for the completion of a training program which may also include contributing some hours on the field.

Qualification to work as a physical therapist aide is usually by completing associate degree program offered by a number of institutions rather than certifications; although certain states are beginning to require that physical therapist aides should be certified.

This certification usually involves passing a test supervised by the National Physical Therapist Exam in such area.

Physical Therapist Aide Training Institutions

A number of institutions offer associate degree programs to enable interested individuals pursue a career as physical therapist assistants.

Such schools include universities which offer online programs for physical therapists aides and some other health related programs.

Kaplan University, the largest provider of online education in the U.S., Boston University, a private research college in the city of Boston, and South University offer associate degree in physical therapy assisting which is to be completed in about two years.

Keiser University Daytona Beach, Southern California Health Institute, Provo College, Pennsylvania college of Health Sciences are other schools with physical therapist assisting programs.

Other Options Available: A number of training options exist for those who want to develop a career as physical therapist aides. They include completing any of the following programs:

  • Associate of Science –Allied Health, which requires about two years to complete Associate of Science – Occupational Therapy Assistant: This gives the skills to assist disabled people and patients recovering from injuries to be able to learn new skills.
  • Physical Therapy Assisting: Here, students are thought how to work with patients with physical disabilities, limited mobility, as well as with accident victims.
  • Masters in Physical Therapy: This enables therapist aides with the applicable Bachelor’s degree to learn to become licensed physical therapists.

Roles, Responsibilities, and Duties of Physical Therapist Aides

The duties and responsibilities of aides to physical therapists include assisting them to keep treatment areas clean and prepared for use.

Other roles include preparing patients for treatment; carrying out clerical assignments like ensuring the treatment documents and items needed are available.

They also offer other forms of assistance, which may include lifting, supporting or moving disabled patients or those under conditions that cannot make them move freely, setting up equipment for treatment and monitoring patient’s progress.

They also perform other physically demanding tasks assigned to them to keep the office running. See detailed job description for the role.

Physical Therapist Aide Skills

Among the many skills which the physical therapist aide is expected to possess is good communication skill since they will very often come in contact with clients and interact with other staff.

They should also possess good organization skills since it can be ridiculous to have them spend time searching for items that were carelessly kept.

Physical Therapist Aide Career Opportunities

About 25% of all physical therapist aides work in hospitals. About 9% can be seen in nursing homes and others can be found in private clinics for physical therapy, and doctors’ offices.

The physical therapist assistant operates a full time work schedule, although in some cases part-time positions can be available depending on the facilities they may be working for.

They may also advance their career by specializing in a particular aspect of their field, or even employ experience to gain higher career paths.

Physical Therapist Aide Salary Expectations

According to the U.S Bureau for Labor Statistics, employment for the role of physical therapist aide is projected to grow by 41 percent from 2012-2022, with an average annual wage of $26,600 to $33,000.