Explore Career Options, Jobs, Schooling, and Salary for an in Demand Career in Physical Therapy
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Physical Therapy Degree: Should I Start My Career as a PTA?


Thinking about about a job in the rehabilitation/physical therapy field health field? if this is the start of your research into a potential career in physical therapy, then you have come to the right place. A career in physical therapy offers those interested a couple of option to consider when it comes to making the right career choice. One can decide upon the option of completing a 2 year associate degree and becomming a physical therapy assistant, or one can recveive post graduate study and complete a doctorate in physical therapy.

Physical therapy is a high demand profession that is heavily utilized within the health care system in the United States. With regards to education there are several hundred different colleges offering programs and degrees in physical therapy. Even with so many employed in this career, and so many educational institutes available, this is a growing profession with numerous opportunities across the United States. Fact is physical therapy careers as a whole are estimated to see an 30% or greater of those employed  by 2018. Also of equal importance is the fact that physical therapy careers also have excellent remuneration and wages. Here is an overview of educational options for physical therapy careers, and what the requirements for education are.

Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy:

This is the most common route for young professionals getting into the physical therapy career to become a licensed P.T. For this career you enter directly into a 2 year long masters degree program. The requirement for entering such a program will usually require a 4 year bachelor’s degree in such topics as biology, health sciences, sports medicine, kinesiology, or other bachelors degree’s that the college in which you wish to attend has deemed to be applicable.

Good grades are often required from your bachelors degree program to be considered for entrance into this program. In the 2 years of study the first year is in the classroom learning many of the important concepts of physical therapy, while the 2nd year will provide the students the opportunity to practice in a clinical. A masters degree in physical therapy although it will take you 6 years of study if you count the bachelors degree is a well paying job across the nation, that has a high demand that is set to increase as this country’s population continues to age.

Doctorate in Physical Therapy:

For some students who have completed their bachelors degree in a given health sciences related topic, they may wish to apply to a program that will give title them a doctorate in physical therapy (dPT) This degree will be a little more in depth than that of a masters degree in physical therapy. The difference will generally be the type of pre-requisite courses required to gain entry into this profession. Also the grade point average will be taken into even further consideration depending on the demand. You will typically find this program to last 33 month to 3 years. This will bring the total amount of time of study to 7 years to complete this degree. Obviously a doctorate in physical therapy may allow for a higher paying job, or greater room for advancement.

This career can be accessed through a bridging program with those who have completed a masters degree in the subject to increase their education to a doctorate in physical therapy. Also there are post professional doctorate programs available, in which a successful graduate can now be given the title of (DPT) or Doctor of Physical Therapy. This pursuit will take an individual roughly 8 years of study to complete.

Associate Degree in Physical Therapy Assistant:

An Associate Degree in physical therapist assisting (PTA) takes 2 years to complete and can be offered at anywhere from community colleges, universities, technical schools as well as private colleges across the U.S.A. An associates degree in physical therapy assistant would be the entry level medical professional degree that is available in this career path. The PTA has the opportunity to work in various settings from old age care homes, clinics, surgery hospitals, childrens hospitals, and a host of other home health opportunities. Considering the program only takes 2 years of study and can often have multiple clinical placements during the 2 years the program is quite thorough and creates a professional with exceptional knowledge for the amount of studies they have completed.

Also a PTA gets paid quite well when compared to others in the same industry. Generally a qualified PTA will earn 65% of what a full physical therapist will earn. Keep in mind the physical therapist may have studied 4-6 years longer to achieve their credentials. Being able to enter the career fast, and get paid well is one of the reasosn this is such an excellent choice for those that wish to start an in demand career in a shorter duration of time. A physical therapy assistant associate degree does not mean you will be able to work after completion, you must first pass a state licensed exam to become a licensed medical professional in the state in which you work.

takes two years to complete and is generally offered in community colleges as well as nursing schools and technical schools across the nation. An associate degree will allow the student to work in various traditional health care settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities, rehabilitation centers, and home health care opportunities.

Physical Therapy Aide Training:

For individuals who just want to get their foot in the door, or desire a quick way into the physical therapy health care industry the career of a physical therapy aide will do that. It does not technically require an education, as most of what will learn is learned on the job. But there are several online colleges offering certification courses, as well as community colleges that will offer certification in this profession. A physical therapy aide will generally earn 50-60% of what a physical therapy assistant will earn.

the PT aides are not licensed professionals, and there is no required exam upon completion. This means that the type of work that they do will differ from that of a physical therapy assistant. They may do such things as prepare the rooms for patients, assist the physical therapist with treatment protocols, as well as keep the office tidy and file patient records.

The carer of a physical therapy aide will introduce you to the physical therapy industry at the entry level, but it may provide you with the insight to move forward and access a better career within this same profession. Most physical therapy programs will be 3 months to 6 months in length.

Benefits of becoming a Physical Therapy Assistant:

The benefits of becoming a physical therapist assistant are numerous. One of the strongest and most appealing attributes of this career is the fact than one can complete the education in 2 years of study. Upon graduation they enter a profession where the average salary in the United States of America is just under $50 000 per year. A physical therapist assistant on average earns close to 2/3 of what a physical therapist earns. A physical therapist requires 7 years of study, compared to 2.

Another benefit is the fact that this career is in demand. Even with a national recession, and a slow down in the amount of new jobs created, the demand for physical therapy assistants has continued to increase. Having a job that can survive recessions is a bonus, having jobs that can grow during a recession is very comforting for those who work in that given career. Not only do those working in this career have strong salary and security, they also work in a profession that ranks top 10 in America for job satisfaction.