The healthcare industry is in continuous need of personnel.
Among the jobs that are easier to get hired for, is that of a physical therapist aide.
This occupation is an entry-level one in the “career levels” scheme of things.
Through this article, you’ll learn more about this profession, including how long does it take to become a physical therapist aide.
If for some reason we got you curious, why don’t you stick around and find out more?
What Does a Physical Therapist Aide Do?
You probably don’t know what physical therapist aides do, as not everyone is aware of all the duties of all the jobs.
Knowing the duties of a job help with realizing how much training or education is needed for the occupation.
Additionally, it can indicate the duration of the training or education, if any is needed in the first place.
Among the things to know about these aides is that these healthcare workers are usually supervised by physical therapists and PT assistants.
For those who don’t know, physical therapist assistants are more qualified through education and licensing than PT aides.
Physical therapist aides are in charge of tasks like the following:
- Helping patients eat
- Cleaning and sanitizing treatment areas and equipment
- Washing linens
- Helping patients dress on and off
- Documenting patients’ responses and progress
- Liaise with physicians’ offices and hospital personnel
- Performing clerical duties
- Moving patients to and from treatment areas
- Helping with pain management
- Helping patients shower
It’s not uncommon for the aides to receive additional tasks to complete.
At times, some patients may need help with only a part of the actions mentioned above.
Here are a few other healthcare professions that have similar job duties:
- Medical assistants
- Occupational therapy assistants and aides
- Pharmacy technicians
- Psychiatric technicians and aides
What Does it Take to Become a Physical Therapist Aide?
This aspect is also important in understanding the duration of the preparations needed for this occupation.
In this section of the article, we want to focus on the requirements an individual has to meet if they want to get hired as a physical therapist aide.
Without further ado, here are the main prerequisites for this job:
- Having a high school diploma or GED
- Having on-the-job training
- Being at least 18 years old
- Being calm
- Able to handle stressful situations
- Passion for helping people
- Good communication skills
- Having a clean criminal record
- Having patience
- Having physical stamina
- Able to work as part of a team
The requirements of any job can indicate if special training or education is needed for the job or not.
It’s worth noting that some employers can have different or additional prerequisites.
The additional requirements could be related to having some certifications.
These credentials are for first aid methods and skills, such as CPR.
Education Needed to Become a Physical Therapist Aide
And this is the section where we’ll have a closer look at the education needed for this specific occupation.
By doing so, we’ll also learn the duration you need to wait before you can get hired.
From the get-go, we know the minimum educational prerequisites to get the job as a physical therapist aide.
This is finishing high school or earning a general education diploma.
High school takes about 4 years to complete.
Those who are at least 18 years of age can apply for an open position.
However, if you want to obtain a CPR certification, you’ll have to study only for a few hours.
The job itself requires some training.
However, this is usually done after getting employed and has a duration of about a month usually.
It is rare for PT aides to need more than a few months to complete their training.
What many don’t know is that the majority of these aides choose to get more education than this.
They usually do this while working.
The education they choose to pursue is usually at the Associates’ degree level.
To obtain this degree, individuals must study for approximately 2 years.
A few individuals study for about a year.
However, this kind of education will only bring a certificate or diploma.
Some choose to study for about 4 years.
With so many years of study, one can obtain a Bachelors’ degree diploma.
The programs need accreditation, regardless of duration.
To sign up, the candidates have to meet enrollment requirements.
These include having to obtain minimum scores in certain subjects.
Candidates will attend classes for these subjects before the actual program starts.
Here are the courses:
Those who consider getting such an education have many types of classes available.
Here they are:
Once enrolled in these programs, you can expect to study:
- Therapeutic exercises
- Application of heat or cold
- Soft tissue mobilization
- Medical terms
- PTA Fundamentals
- Principles of musculoskeletal physical therapy
- Principles of neuromuscular physical therapy
- Physical therapy practice for special populations
- Patient Positioning and Transfer
- Ethical and Legal Issues
- Clinical Procedures
- Safety protocol
- Electrical stimulation
- Neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, and cardiopulmonary treatment skills
All students in these programs will have to attend clinical practice hours as well.
Physical Therapist Aide License
Physical therapist aides don’t need to obtain a license.
However, once you decide to obtain a degree and graduate, you might as well consider getting licensed as well.
The body issuing licenses to PT aides is the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
The Commission organizes the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).
To take the certifying exam, you’ll need to meet some prerequisites.
- Graduating from the training program
- Paying a registration fee
- Filling out an application form
- Paying the fee for the license – $115
- Being over the age of 21
- Having a clean criminal record
PANCE has several difficulty levels.
Individuals can try passing a level a maximum of 3 times in a row and a maximum of 6 times throughout their life.
However, those who score no more than 400 two times in a row per level, cannot take the exam again.
Assuming you pass the exam and become licensed, you’ll have to keep your credential current.
For this, you’ll have to continue your education, as well as pay a renewal fee.
Physical Therapist Aide Employment and Salary
This part of being a physical therapist aide is pretty important if you’re going to spend up to 4 years in training.
These aides are needed in the following settings:
- Offices of physicians
- Rehabilitation centers
- Nursing care facilities
- The offices of physical, occupational, and speech therapists,
- The offices of audiologists
Salaries for these professionals hover between $26,000 and $41,000 per year.
The majority, however, earn around $33,000 a year.
Your income will vary based on these factors:
- Experience in the field
- Place of employment
Clearly, the more experience and higher credentials you’ll get, the higher your salary will be.
Additionally, these 2 factors will also improve your career.
At this point in time, it’s pretty clear that the duration it takes to become a physical therapist aide is as long as you want it to be.
You can spend as little as a few weeks and up to at least 4 years in training and learning all about this occupation.
This also depends on the kind of career you hope to have in the future.