Physical therapy helps individuals improve, restore, and maintain body movement and function. Individuals at every life stage can benefit from physical therapy. Available careers in the field depend on the individual's education level. For example, physical therapy aides, who work under the supervision of physical therapists and physical therapy assistants, do not need a postsecondary degree.
Physical therapy assistants implement treatment plans to help patients improve their mobility and quality of life. These professionals work under the direction and supervision of licensed physical therapists. Physical therapy assistants need strong listening and communication skills, along with the ability to work as part of a team.
Physical therapy professionals work in hospitals, schools, and fitness centers. An associate degree in physical therapy assistance can lead to positions in this growing field. Full-time students typically earn their associate in physical therapy in two years.
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Physical therapy assistant programs usually take two years to complete. However, part-time learners may take longer to graduate. Some programs offer accelerated options.
Most states require physical therapy assistants to hold a license. Graduates of physical therapy assistant programs must pass a state-administered national exam to qualify for licensure.
Physical therapy assistants often work in medical settings, such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, and skilled-nursing facilities. These professionals can also work in schools, workplaces, and sports facilities.
Physical therapy aides need only a high school diploma or the equivalent. They typically perform nonmedical tasks and gain skills on the job. Physical therapy assistants work directly with patients and need at least an associate degree.