As obvious from the name, a Physical Therapy Assistant works in close proximity to the Physical Therapist. A Physical Therapist may be the primary spokesperson for an assignment.

But, it is the job of a Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) to observe a patient before, during and after treatment and report it back to the DPT doctor of Physical therapist.

However, in order to be a certified Physical Therapist Assistant you need to pass a board exam managed by FSBPT (The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy). After that you are eligible to join Doctor of phyical therapy DPT programs and Physical therapy PHD programs.

Physical Therapy Assistant Certification

At this time, NPTE (National Physical Therapy Exam) managed by FSBPT is compulsory to get certification in all 50 states. The certification is required in all the 50 states if you wish to practice as a Physical Therapist Assistant.

Moreover, FSBPT observes the certified professionals’ records on a regular basis. Therefore, licensure requires regular renewals from time to time.

Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA)

How do I obtain a Physical Therapy Assistant Certification?

Following are some concrete steps in order to put you on a pathway in obtaining a Physical Therapy Assistant Certification:

  1. Post-Secondary Associate Degree:

First thing is to enroll in an accredited Associate Degree program after graduating from high school. This has proven to be the most ideal way to become an early PTA professional.

The Associate Degree program is an undergrad’s level of education. The degree’s span is 2-3 years in most cases. This program is somewhat known as an undergrad degree although it is not quite the same.

I would personally explain the degree’s worth lying somewhere between a post-secondary diploma and a bachelor degree.

To sum up, the first step would be to obtain an Associate Degree that fulfills the pre-requisite courses for a future Physical Therapy School. (I will be explaining the pre-requisite part in the next step).

  1. National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE):

FSBPT arranges an annual exam for Physical Therapists and Physical Therapy Assistants. Passing the exam for PTA will license you as a certified Physical Therapist.

However, the license may need renewals after regular periods. The reason being, almost all states require a condition of continuing education for Physical Therapy Assistants. This is where the pre-requisite courses point from the last step comes in.

In order for you to be able to continue education in this field you need certain pre-requisites that most Physical Therapy schools require.

Hence, while you choose your Associate Degree program you may also have to keep your future PT school and its pre-requisites in check.

  1. An Internship goes a long way:

Obtaining certain clinical expertise goes a long way. It not only teaches you what’s out there practically but also exposes you to immense growth as a professional.

Hence, after getting your certification, a clinical experience to determine your practical potential is the next best step. After all, it will not only polish you as a PTA but will also help you determine if it is the right profession for you.

Physical Therapy Assistant Program – Managing Organizations

APTA (American Physical Therapy Association)

Mission: The American Physical Therapy Association helps to promote a healthier lifestyle by advocating Physical Therapy. It helps train a hundred thousands of Physical Therapists for better professional ethics.


FSBPT (The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy)

Mission: Administers the NPT exams throughout the USA in addition to providing licensure and certifications.


NPTE (National Physical Therapy Exam)

Mission: National Board Exam for Physical Therapy Assistant to certify motivated individuals.


WCPT (World Confederation for Physical Therapy)

Mission: Represents PT/Physical Therapy Assistants and their organizations around the globe.

Website: https://www.wcpt.or

Physical Therapist Assistant Programs in The USA

Below discover some top rated pta schools in US that are offering online and campus base PTA Degree programs in low affordable tuition fee.

University of Alaska Anchorage


Program: PTA

Tuition Fee: $212/credit hour

Address: 3211 Providence Drive, PSB 146, Anchorage, AK 99508-4614

Contact: 907-786-4769



Bishop State Community College

Program: PTA

Tuition: $9,970 USD

Address: 1365 Martin Luther King Avenue, Mobile, AL 36603-3536

Contact: (251) 405-4441



Arkansas State University


Program: PTA

Tuition: $4,304 USD

Address: 2105 Aggie Rd, Jonesboro, AR 72401, USA

Contact: (870) 972-3591



Carrington College – Mesa

Program: PTA

Tuition: $18,136 USD

Address: 1001 W Southern Avenue #130, Mesa, AZ 85210

Contact: (480) 212-1600



Sacramento City College

Program: PTA

Tuition: $1518 USD

Address: 3835 Freeport Boulevard, Sacramento, CA 95822-1318

Contact: (916) 558-2298



Stanbridge University


Program: PTA

Tuition: $32,951 USD

Address: 2041 Business Center Drive #107, Irvine, CA 92612

Contact: (949) 794-9090



Certified PTA Salary

Following are some states and the annual wages of a Certified Physical Therapy Assistant. More information about AIDE Salary and PTA Salary here.

Louisiana 48,665
Arkansas 52,325
California 63,668
Florida 67,339
Maryland 60,000
Kentucky 54,372
Nevada 57,654

Certified Physical Therapy Assistants and Their Jobs 

In the light of Physical Therapy and its vague boundary, Physical Therapy Assistants may have the following jobs but are not limited to:

  • Education/Research centers
  • Orthopedic Injuries
  • Neuromuscular Injuries
  • Pediatrics Related
  • Genetic Injuries Therapy

For the most part, the PTA’s gain experience in one or more of the above fields after completing their certification.Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) related to Physical Therapy Assistant and its Certification

  • What should I go for? Physical Therapist or a Physical Therapy Assistant?

Answer: Admittedly, this is the most frequently asked question by young enthusiasts. The answer is simple. If you’re not in a financial hurry and you have time to opt for a Bachelor degree, you should go for it. Since, you will have to opt for it the Bachelor program eventually as a Physical Therapy Assistant (continuing education clause in most states for PTA professionals).

  • Do I need separate certification as a Physical Therapy Assistant for each state?

Answer: Your certification granted by FSBPT is valid in all 50 states. However, you may have to look into transferring your licensure from one state to another.

  • Is it possible to earn as much as a Physical Therapist whilst being a Certified Physical Therapy Assistant?

Answer: Your salary depends upon variables like geographical location, type of job and experience. So the answer is that you may or may not earn as much as a Physical Therapist.

  • Are there any specializations for a Certified Physical Therapy Assistant?

Answer: No, there are no specializations for Physical Therapy Assistants. However, APTA does offer Advance Proficiency Pathways for PTAs. This is generally a more detail oriented training in some specific areas like pediatrics or orthopedics.

  • Is it possible to become a Physical Therapy Assistant with a Bachelor Degree?

Answer: While it may be possible to become a PTA after your bachelor degree, it is highly suggested that you don’t. Your credentials will take you to a better education and better jobs in the future.

  • Is it possible to become a Physical Therapy Assistant without certification?

Answer: To call yourself a Physical Therapy Assistant you need an FSBPT certification. However, you may be able to land similar jobs based on your past experience. These jobs may not pay as much as a certified PTA.