Physical Therapist Aide: 5 Things to Know Before Becoming One

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There’s no shame in needing a job as long as the work involved is legal.

Some occupations require getting your hands dirty more than others.

Becoming a physical therapist aide means your hands will get quite dirty.

However, this is because you’ll actively help the sick.

But before you decide on anything, why don’t you read more about the 5 things to know before becoming a physical therapist aide?

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Get information on Physical Therapy Aide programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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This Is The Job of a Physical Therapist Aide

Not many people even know what a physical therapist aide does for a living.

Based on the duties of these professionals, one might as well say physical therapist aides perform the dirty work.

Here are their main job duties:

  • Cleaning and sanitizing treatment areas and equipment
  • Washing linens
  • Performing clerical tasks
  • Moving patients to and from treatment areas
  • Observing patients before, during, and after therapy
  • Helping with pain management
  • Helping patients shower
  • Helping patients eat
  • Using various devices and equipment
  • Helping patients dress on and off
  • Documenting patients’ responses and progress
  • Educating both patients and their families
  • Liaise with physicians’ offices and hospital personnel

It’s common for these duties to vary between the facilities where physical therapist aides work.

Physical Therapist Aides Must Meet Some Specific Requirements

Not everyone is made the same way and as such, not everyone has the same abilities.

It takes a certain type of person to work as a physical therapist aide.

Such a person would have these traits:

  • Passion for helping people
  • Detail-oriented
  • Good communication skills
  • Patience
  • Self-motivation
  • Stamina
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Having a high school diploma or GED
  • Having on-the-job training
  • Being at least 18 years old
  • Having a clean criminal record
  • Being calm
  • Able to handle stressful situations

Various employers may also request that the candidates should meet some additional prerequisites.

These other requirements could be specific certifications or even for the person to be licensed.

A much-needed certification for these healthcare workers is the one for advanced first aid and CPR.

Without a CPR certification, it’s virtually impossible for someone to get hired in the medical field.

Physical Therapist Aides Don’t Need Training or Education

This subtitle is a bit misleading, at this point, but not completely untrue.

These aides need to have at the very least a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Enrolling in a college or university in a specialized program is not mandatory, however.

These aides usually receive up to a month of training when they get hired.

Even if physical therapist aides don’t need to receive some special education, it doesn’t mean they don’t get it.

In fact, many of these aides also study for some certification or degree.

They do this for more career options as well as to gain some experience.

Additionally, they might not even get hired if they don’t have some sort of credentials or aren’t in the process of obtaining some.

Many other positions in the medical field are easier to obtain by those with some experience.

One of the best programs to sign up for is the one issuing a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate’s degree diploma.

Enrolling in other types of programs is equally acceptable, depending on the path you want to follow.

Many aides choose to enroll in courses that have a duration of 4 years to earn a Bachelors’ degree diploma instead.

Keep in mind that the majority of the schools will also have some requests from their future students.

These requirements could include:

  • Showing proof for certain vaccinations,
  • Obtaining minimum grades in specific subjects,
  • Completing some classes before the actual program starts

The classes you might have to attend are usually the ones for which you’ll need a minimum grade.

Here are some of the subjects you’ll study in the PTA Associate’s degree diploma program:

  • Medical terms
  • PTA Fundamentals
  • Principles of musculoskeletal physical therapy
  • Principles of neuromuscular physical therapy
  • Physical therapy practice for special populations

It may not be apparent at first, but not all the courses are made equal, even for the same profession.

Some may last a few months while others will take up to 2 years to complete.

The duration of the course depends greatly on the type of credential you want to earn.

Furthermore, some of the schools may offer online teaching.

Other schools might demand your physical presence in a classroom.

The courses aimed at most medical and healthcare personnel also have a practice aspect included.

Practice hours are usually conducted in a setting similar to that of the future occupation.

Here are some of the schools you can consider attending if you want to become a physical therapist aide:

  • University of Michigan
  • Columbia University (in New York City)
  • Georgetown University

Regardless of the chosen program, you’ll have to ensure it has been accredited by CAPTE.

Physical Therapist Aide: 5 Things to Know Before Becoming One

Physical Therapist Aides Are Usually Licensed

As with the training or education, being licensed is not mandatory for physical therapist aides.

Despite this, you’ll rarely meet one without a license.

You can become licensed if you pass the exam organized by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.

The test is called the “National Physical Therapy Exam” for which you’ll sign up after you graduate from your degree program.

For this exam, you’ll also need to pay a registration fee and pass the security tests required by the Federation.

Keep in mind that this exam has levels.

Individuals are allowed to attempt taking the exam for a single level just 3 times in a row.

The exam for a single level can be taken only 6 times throughout a person’s life.

Additionally, candidates can only score twice 400 or under per level.

Those who obtain this license will need to maintain it updated.

This is usually done by completing a specific number of continuing education classes.

Additionally, paying a renewal fee is also expected of individuals.

Physical Therapist Aides Have Many Career Opportunities

The position of a physical therapist aide is an entry-level one.

Yet, this doesn’t mean these aides cannot hope to climb the career ladder.

Of course, to be able to do this, individuals need the appropriate education and certification for the position they hope to get.

What’s more, is that at least some of the duties of a physical therapist aide are identical for more healthcare professionals.

These are a few other career paths that physical therapist aides can follow:

  • Medical assistants
  • Occupational therapy assistants and aides
  • Pharmacy technicians
  • Psychiatric technicians and aides

Physical therapist aides can get hired at many medical and healthcare facilities.

Here are the ones where these aides are needed the most:

  • Hospitals
  • Offices of physicians
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Nursing care facilities
  • The offices of physical, occupational, and speech therapists,
  • The offices of audiologists

It’s possible to work for the government as well, as a physical therapist aide.

However, this is a rather rare occurrence and you might have to meet additional prerequisites.

Sadly, these prerequisites are not the subject of this article.


We hope this presentation helps you better understand these professionals.

The points we talked about are meant to help you realize easier if you’re a match for this occupation or not.

Additionally, these are some of the things everyone should research before launching into a career they might or might not like.

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