Many individuals who enter the physical therapy field as an assistant enjoy the profession so thoroughly that they wish to upgrade from a physical therapy assistant to a physical therapist. While a physical therapist assistant enjoys a strong salary, ample job opportunities, and overall has a strong stable career, there are still those who wish to upgrade their education. While upgrading is no easy task to complete, it is possible with the right attitude, and the right planning.
Those who wish to upgrade their education can do so having already experienced working within the field. They know what to expect, they understand what they are getting into, and they have a strong idea of what the career will be like should they decide to become a physical therapist.
Physical Therapy Assistant to Physical Therapist Difference in Educational Requirements
One of the most glaring differences between the 2 careers is the amount of time required to complete the education process. A physical therapy assistant is only required to complete an associate degree program, which generally lasts 2 years in duration before becoming eligible for a state license to work. A physical therapist is required to have completed a bachelors degree within a related topic, as well must have achieved a minimum grade point average to go along with prerequisite courses to be eligible for entry into a post graduate doctorate degree for physical therapy. A physical therapist generally will be required to study 6-7 years to complete their education and credentials.
No matter which way one decides to tackle the upgrade, first and foremost a baccalaureate degree or bachelors degree in a related topic is required before one can apply for to schools for a doctorate of physical therapy.
The good news fort those wishing to upgrade from a physical therapy assistant to a physical therapist, is there are many schools available across the nation that will recognize a physical therapy assistant education as 60-70 credits of a bachelors degree (a bachelors degree being 120 credits). There are also many options now for completing a bachelors degree online or at night classes, allowing an individual to continue to earn an income and work, while beginning the process of upgrading their education.
Admissions requirements for all physical therapy doctorate degree programs are not the same, and may fluctuate from state to state, it is best before deciding to upgrade from an associate to a bachelors degree, for prospective students to know what is expected for admissions from physical therapy post secondary degree programs. Generally students will be required to have a bachelor of science, with specific prerequisite courses, and a suitable grade point average.
Yes there is 1 program currently recognized by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) at Findlay University in Ohio. The program at findlay University is designed for licensed physical therapist assistant who hold a bachelors degree. The program is 3 years in duration and will take place on weekends until the program is completed. The weekend format helps those who either live close by even perhaps just out of state, or for those who work during the week. Most physical therapist assistants are not interested in giving up their employment, nor can they afford to, that is what makes the program at Findlay University so accommodating.
The entry requirements can be found on the findlay University website (which we have posted below the content) Findlay requires that an individual have a grade point average of above 3.0, as well as have completed a vast number of prerequisite courses. Students currently enrolled at Findlay University completing their bachelors degree will be given first priority.
Benefits of Upgrading From a Physical Therapy Assistant to Physical Therapist
the first benefit is having a more prestigious career, that is in strong demand, and required extensive and high level education. Not everyone has what it takes to complete a doctorate degree, and the competition for a physical therapist may never reach the levels that it may in the future for a physical therapist assistant. With the assistants education only requiring 2 years, it is possible for people to enter this career rather quickly. Currently the demand for the PTA is very strong, and the market is not flooded, although the possibly is certainly there in comparison to a physical therapist.
Financially the benefits of being a physical therapist are also one of the perks of an upgraded education. Physical Therapists in the United States earn an average salary nation wide of over $77 000 per year. Some states the average is over $100 000 per year. Being a well respected, well paid, highly skilled working in a professional trade is a strong benefit. A physical therapy assistant salary averages closer to $49 000 per year nationally.
Whether you decide upgrading is for you or not, the best thing to know is that both these careers are seeing a large spike in demand as the baby boomer generation ages. Both these careers are well paying, and have excellent job outlooks for foreseeable future. Remember it can be roughly 5 years plus of education to upgrade, if this is a career an individual truly loves, then it may be completely worth it.
Resource: Findlay University Physical therapy assistant to Physical Therapist Bridging Program site, http://www.findlay.edu/global/academics/cohs/cohpmptcurriculum?ChannelGuid=%7b37D9F413-4689-44D0-8014-6E98EDDD4CC3%7d