Physical Therapist Assistant: 8 Quality Skills Students Need

You should start developing the skills now that employers need in their clinics, while you are enjoying your studies in anticipation of working in the field you’ve chosen. This begs the question, though: what, specifically, are they looking for?

Our department heads at Florida National University have built the Associate of Science Degree in Physical Therapist Assistant around this known skillset, but we can best illustrate it here for you by surveying typical, actual job postings.

Physical Therapist Aide Does Not Equal Assistant

FNU’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program Director Dr. Kelly Krenkel points out that “A physical therapist aide does not require any sort of training. You can be in high school and work as a physical therapy aide. Whereas a physical therapist assistant requires an Associate’s degree, such as the one my program provides.”

This is a big distinction that could vary your salary earnings greatly when looking for a position in healthcare. If you search Physical Therapist Assistant versus Aide, you will come across very different salary ranges. Just so you get a sense, as an Assistant you can top salary ranges in Florida.

Physical Therapist Assistant: 8 Quality Skills Students Need

Infographic: US Bureau of Labor Statistics for May 2017 wages for Physical Therapist Assistants. lists a range in Florida from $40,335 – $72,276,

Nationally, the Mean Annual wage for a Physical Therapist Assistant, according to the BLS is $57,620, while in Florida it is 5k higher at $62,710.

Skills Required in Job Postings for Physical Therapy Assistants

Since the healthcare field is expanding so quickly and workers are highly sought after, there are many positions calling for Assistants to Physical Therapists. We’ve weeded through the myriad of job postings examples of actual job listings and took a screenshot of a couple that are typical, comprehensive and on point in the field:

Skills Required in Job Postings for Physical Therapy Assistants Skills Required in Job Postings for Physical Therapy Assistants

As you can see, the first requirement is a degree from an accredited university. The program at FNU is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and the university is accredited overall by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, baccalaureate and masters degrees.

Looking through the myriad of job advertisements, the duties and skills required for Physical Therapy Assistants in the health field can be summarized as follows:

  1. Good communication and interpersonal skills with Physical Therapist, other departments in the hospital and patients
  2. Proper use of heat, cold, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, massage and other physical therapy techniques on patients
  3. Educating patients on the proper use of the above-mentioned techniques as well as therapy equipment
  4. Problem-solving and assessment of next steps based on data analysis
  5. Monitoring and application of new trends, techniques, and research
  6. Daily reporting and tracking patient progress
  7. Modifying programs and planning
  8. Empathy, a quality that is nearly impossible to teach but is often listed. Read more here about what motivates a PTA.

A minimum of 78 credits is required to graduate with an Associates in Science as a Physical Therapist Assistant at FNU, and some of the classes that closely address the major skills are:

  • Applied Functional Anatomy & Kinesiology Assessment
  • Measurement and Documentation Basic Patient Care
  • Therapeutic Modalities and Physical Agents Pathology for the PTA
  • Therapeutic Exercise
Neuromuscular Conditions and Orthopedic Conditions
  • Rehabilitation
  • Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy and Other Systems
  • Promotion of Health and Wellness
  • Trends in Physical Therapy

Also, the program requires 13 credits (3 classes) of practicum, which will put a checkmark in another box that hospitals look for: experience.

Our accredited program also gives you the credential to sit for the national licensure exam.

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About the PTA AS Degree Program at FNU

Our daytime program at the Hialeah campus is a two-year tightly tracked program, however, you can even complete it in less time. The classes are scheduled such that once you start you can continue on the track and ensure completion.

To Qualify for the PTA AS Degree Program at FNU

You can start your FNU admissions process here, through our online form. You’ll have to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a “B” in general prerequisites, especially in Anatomy & Physiology, Introduction to Physical Therapy, Physics, and Algebra. Later on in the process, you’ll also attend an obligatory orientation session and fill out the PTA-specific application.

With the support of a university whose mission is to serve their immediate community in Hialeah in their quest for career advancement, the FNU professors are your support in ensuring that your program and in-clinic practice are fruitful and successful.

Don’t hesitate to call FNU at 305-821-3333 and ask to speak to someone in the Physical Therapy department. We’ll be happy to hear from you and discover together if you’d make a good fit for the field.