How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant Online

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for physical therapist assistants is good; with job growth projected to increase 28 percent by 2016. These professionals work with physical therapists to improve patient mobility and relieve chronic pain such as back injuries. But before launching this type of career, you must graduate from a physical therapist assistant program and determine if your state requires licensure. And for busy individuals, many colleges have designed online physical therapist assistant programs where students can study at their own pace. Here's a guide to becoming a physical therapist assistant online.

  • Choose an online physical therapist assistant program. Schools like Penn Foster Career School offer online physical therapist assistant programs in a virtual environment. These programs take as little as six months to complete and are typically self paced. For a directory of physical therapist assistant programs, check out All Allied Health Schools (see Resources).

  • Gain licensure in your state. Some states required physical therapist assistants to become licensed. Contact your state department of health to determine if your state requires passing a state exam. Also, check if there are restrictions on programs you can attend.

  • Get physical therapist assistant experience. Since you'll be completing your physical therapist assistant program in a virtual environment, it's helpful to get hands-on experience through an internship. Plus, this will make you more marketable to potential employers. To find these opportunities, contact physical therapy practices in your area.

  • Update your resume. Once you've secured the required education and state certification, update your resume to reflect these qualifications. Also, ask the professional that supervised your internship to write a letter of recommendation to accompany your resume. For sample resumes, check out Job Bank USA (see Resources).

  • Apply for physical therapist assistant jobs. These positions are typically posted at job boards such as Indeed, Monster and Hot Jobs. Also, target local hospitals and physical therapy practices in your area by checking the career section of their websites. And even if the practice doesn't have an opening, contact the office manager and submit a resume. This will help you tap into unadvertised physical therapist assistant positions.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider joining professional organizations. Consider joining the American Physical Therapist Association. They offer continuing education opportunities and networking opportunities for physical therapist assistants.
  • Don't forget to renew your license. If your state requires licensure, ask about renewal requirements. If you let your license lapse, you may have to take the state exam again.

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