There are more than 300 accredited physical therapist assistant schools in the United States. Although they all offer similar curriculums, there can still be differences between them. Here are the top things you should look for when deciding what physical therapist assistant school to attend.
If you want to work legally as a physical therapist in any state, you must attend an accredited program. If you earn a diploma or a degree from a non-accredited school, you will not be allowed to sit for the licensing exam. The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) is the only accrediting agency for physical therapist assistant schools recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, so make sure that any school you are considering has received CAPTE approval.
Opportunities for practical experience
The curriculum for a physical therapist assistant degree has both academic and applied components. You can expect to spend about three-quarters of your education in the classroom and the other one-quarter gaining clinical experience. All CAPTE-accredited institutions should offer plenty of opportunities for hands-on work, but you should still make sure that this makes up a solid portion of your education.
It usually takes about two years of full-time study to earn a physical therapist assistant associate’s degree, though some programs may be accelerated. The curriculum should include a variety of course in anatomy and physiology, health care, physical therapy techniques, and clinical topics. Compare the curriculums of different schools in your area to make sure the one you choose will give you comprehensive training in all areas of the field.
Licensure pass rates
The average pass rate for students who take the National Physical Therapy Examination is 85 percent. Make sure the school you are considering has a licensure pass rate that is at least that high.
Graduate employment rate
How well do the school’s graduates do in the job market? Given the high growth in this field, graduates of physical therapist assistant schools should generally be doing quite well. You can learn this information by asking one of the school’s admissions counselors.
The cost of physical therapist assistant schools varies widely, with annual tuition ranging from around $8000 for a public institution to more than $25,000 for a private one. Physical therapist assistant is an excellent career, and in the current climate job security is almost guaranteed, but you still don’t want to graduate saddled with too much debt. Talk to your family or a financial advisor about what you can afford and ask an admissions counselor if there is financial aid available.
Earning a degree from a physical therapist assistant school is an excellent first step toward building your career. Use these six criteria to make sure the school you choose will help you reach your goals.