The physical therapist assistant works under the direction of a licensed physical therapist. They provide services to improve strength, flexibility, relieve pain, promote fitness, and quality of life of people suffering from injuries or disease. Physical therapist assistants perform a wide variety of tasks involving exercise, massage, electrical stimulation, heat/cold treatment, ultrasound, traction, and hydrotherapy. They provide training to improve ambulation, body mechanics, posture, and athletic performance.
Individuals who are licensed physical therapist assistants are eligible to work in hospitals, schools, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, sports facilities, or home health agencies. Physical therapy clinics operate primarily in the day hours, but evening and weekend hours are available in some settings. There are opportunities for full and part time work.
Salary ranges for physical therapist assistants will vary according to experience and the type of employment setting. A new graduate physical therapist assistant will make approximately $40,000 to $50,000 per year. Experienced physical therapist assistants will make up to $66,000 per year. There are many opportunities for per diem work experiences.
Physical therapist assistants are required to graduate from an accredited 2 year program to be able to apply for licensure. The individual who successfully completes these courses at CCRI receives an Associate in Applied Science (A. A. S.) degree and is eligible to take the licensure examination for physical therapist assistants in Rhode Island. State licensure requirements may vary state to state.
Interested high school students should enroll in a math and science curriculum, including algebra and biology. The student will need good reading and communication skills to be prepared to take English Composition I at the college level.
The physical therapist assistant program is a 2 year program that integrates classroom preparation and clinical practice. General education courses such as English Composition, Oral Communication, Anatomy, Physiology, Math, and Psychology enhance the physical therapist assistant core courses. The core courses include laboratory sessions to learn and practice hands on skills required to be a physical therapist assistant. The students have 3 clinical education experiences in various physical therapy settings to practice skills learned in the classroom under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist or physical therapist assistant.
The total cost of the 2 year physical therapist assistant program including tuition, fees, and books for core courses and general education courses is approximately $13,000. For up-to-date costs go to the CCRI Bursar's Tuition & Fees page.
All students completing the prerequisite courses with a “B-” or better and maintaining a GPA of at least 2.7 will be accepted according to the Performance Based Acceptance Process described in the Admission Guidelines.
Additional information about physical therapy can be found in the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Website.