Why This Matters
84% OF PHYSICAL THERAPY ASSISTANTS NEED AN ASSOCIATE DEGREE
The vast majority of PTA positions require an associate degree, according to data from O*NET. Another 16% require advanced education such as a bachelor’s degree or professional degree.
26% EXPECTED JOB GROWTH THROUGH 2032
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the average job growth rate across all industries will be 3% from 2022 to 2032. For PTAs, the job growth is expected to be more than eight times that figure at 26%.
EARN OVER $60,000 PER YEAR ON AVERAGE
According to data from the BLS, the average salary for physical therapy assistants is $62,770. Those in the top 10% of earners brought home more than $85,230.
This list features some of the best online physical therapy assistant associate degree programs at top colleges nationwide. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary education.
We evaluated each school’s program on admission, retention, and graduation rates as well as tuition costs, faculty, reputation, and the resources provided for online students. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.
Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online physical therapy assistant associate degree programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.
- 64 hours to write this article
- 80 universities and colleges we assessed
- 125 education programs we compared
What You Should Know About This Degree
Physical therapy assistant programs are often confused with both physical therapy aide programs and physical therapist programs. Physical therapists have advanced education and are considered medical professionals. Physical therapy aides are similar to medical assistants, but they specialize in physical therapy. Physical therapy assistants are in the middle of the two in terms of experience and education.
Any physical therapy assistant program you’re looking at needs to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), which assesses the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of physical therapy-related programs.
Job growth expectations in this field are extremely high. Physical therapy assistants also have the option of taking travel positions, which often pay more and let you see the country as you work with patients.
Before you can work as a PTA, you’ll need to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE). Passing this exam qualifies you to be licensed in your state.
Here are some questions to ask when researching online associate in physical therapy assistant programs:
- Am I eligible for this program? To be able to apply for an associate in physical therapy assistant program, you usually just need a high school diploma or equivalency. You may also need to demonstrate a base level of math, English, science, and computer proficiency through a placement test.
- Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Courses in these programs are usually delivered both synchronously and asynchronously. General courses such as anatomy and physiology may be offered asynchronously, but classes that involve clinical hours are usually completed synchronously.
When you’re ready to apply, you’ll need to submit high school transcripts and possibly ACT/SAT scores. You’ll also need to take any relevant placement tests and check with the financial aid office about the possibility of grants, loans, scholarships, or work-study programs.