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Degree Overview: Associate of Science (A.S.) Degree in Physical Therapy Assisting

Majors Overview March 3, 2014

Students will be taught the premise of scientific knowledge and technical skills of physical therapy assisting. Programs for Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees in physical therapy assisting combine hands-on training and classroom instruction to help individuals prepare for a solid career.

A.S. Programs in Physical Therapy Assisting

Students enrolled in a 2-year Associate of Science in Physical Therapy Assisting program can expect to become adept at exercising patients, using treatment equipment and building skills in medical testing procedures. Technical schools and community colleges often offer this program. Graduates are taught how to define common therapy methods and also learn about performing duties with an ethical and professional attitude. They can seek entry-level jobs in the field after they satisfy any state level testing requirements.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Entry-level science and general education courses may also be required to be completed by students before they are admitted to a physical therapy assisting associate degree program. Prior experience in the field may also be expected of aspiring students. Additional physical requirements may also be required to be met, or proof of immunization provided.


Coursework in a physical therapy assisting program usually comprises classroom lectures and clinical practicums. In the clinical portion of the program, students are usually required to work hands-on in a physical therapy setting on the watch of an instructor or physical therapist. Coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Therapeutic methods
•Rehabilitation science
•Patient care
•Medical terminology
•Human development
•Physical therapy fundamentals

Career Choices

While the focus of programs may center on training individuals to become physical therapy assistants, other medical support positions may also be aspired for by graduates who qualify for such roles. For instance, they may choose from work settings such as:

•Therapy centers
•Medical offices

Continuing Education Choices

In most states, licensure, registration or certification is mandatory for physical therapy assistants (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). Passage of the National Physical Therapy Exam is a common requirement.

Physical therapy assistants may aspire for physical therapist roles. Earning a graduate degree in physical therapy would help gain such career advancement, with a master’s or doctorate degree likely to result in an occupation as a physical therapist. Passage of a professional exam leading to licensure is among the regulations all states typically have for physical therapists.

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