10 Best Online Physical Therapy Aide Certification Programs [2024 Guide]

By Stephanie Friedman
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on May 11, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
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If you’re interested in physical therapy support role, you might consider earning a physical therapy aide certification online. Students in these programs are required to have received a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

Best Online Physical Therapy Aide Certification Programs

PT aide certificate programs typically take less than half a year to complete, and you can start learning about the basics of physical therapy and offices in the medical field right away.

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A certificate program could also provide a foundation for further education or training in the industry.

Universities Offering Online Physical Therapy Aide Certificate Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

1. Borough of Manhattan Community College

The Borough of Manhattan Community College offers an online Physical Therapy Aide Certification course. The course covers topics such as medical terminology, body mechanics, and records and charting. Those that finish the course may take the Physical Therapy Technician and Aide certification exam offered by the AMCA.

BMCC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

2. California State University – Long Beach

California State University – Long Beach offers a Physical Therapy Aide Certificate. The program provides 60 hours of instruction and a digital textbook. The curriculum covers topics such as basic human anatomy, medical terminology, note recording, and patient positioning. The program is designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in hospitals and outpatient facilities.

CSU Long Beach is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

3. Community College of Philadelphia

The Community College of Philadelphia offers a Certified Physical Therapy Aide program. It includes 190 hours of online coursework, which may be completed according to one’s own schedule. Once registered, the program allows 9 months to finish. The program is designed to prepare students for the AMCA Physical Therapy Technician and Aide certification exam.

Community College of Philadelphia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

4. Franklin University

Franklin University offers a Physical Therapy Aide Certificate that can be earned online. This program takes 3 to 4 months to complete and covers beginner-level skills in physical therapy support, record keeping, and equipment cleaning. Those that finish the program may take either the Physical Therapy Technician and Aide exam or the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant exam.

Franklin University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

5. Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State University offers a Certified Physical Therapy Aide course. This open-enrollment course requires 190 hours, which may be completed at one’s own pace as long as it is finished within 9 months. Textbooks are included in the course. After finishing the course, students may take the AMCA certification exam.

Kennesaw State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

6. Lower Columbia College

Lower Columbia College offers a fully online Certified Physical Therapy Aide course. It seeks to prepare students for the AMCA certification exam. The course covers topics such as body mechanics, positioning and draping patients, ambulation aids, and legal and ethical issues. There are no prerequisites to enroll, and the course may be started any time.

Lower Columbia College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

7. Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University offers an open-enrollment Certified Physical Therapy Aide online course. It requires 190 hours of work that may be completed at one’s own pace as long as it is finished within 9 months. The curriculum seeks to prepare students for the AMCA certification exam and covers topics such as medical terminology, human anatomy, and proper positioning.

Mississippi State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

8. University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati offers a Certified Physical Therapy Aide program. It aims to prepare students for the AMCA Physical Therapy Technician and Aide certification exam. It also provides an externship starter kit to help students find a job in physical therapy. The curriculum covers topics such as human anatomy, patient transfers, and legal and ethical issues.

The University of Cincinnati is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

9. University of Georgia

The University of Georgia offers a Certified Physical Therapy Aide course that is available 100% online. This 190 hour course may be started at any time, and it comes with an externship starter kit and a voucher to take the American Medical Certification Association’s certification exam.

The University of Georgia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

10. University of Miami

The University of Miami offers an 8 week online Physical Therapy Aide Certificate program with four start dates every year. The curriculum covers non-technical duties in the field of physical therapy. Those that finish the program may pursue entry-level positions in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and similar settings.

The University of Miami is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Physical Therapy Aide Certification Programs Online

Man taking Physical Therapy Aide Certification Online

Physical therapy aide certificate programs typically help prepare students to pursue support roles in the physical therapy arena or to pursue further education. Students are generally required to hold a high school diploma or GED in order to apply for these programs.

In these types of programs, you’ll often study some of the following topics:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Physical therapy fundamentals
  • Hot and cold treatments
  • Medical terminology
  • Medical office procedures
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Principles of pathology
  • Infection control
  • Safely transferring patients
  • Recordkeeping
  • Workplace ethics
  • Healthcare laws and regulations

Classes in an online physical therapy aide certificate program typically teach students how to manage the administrative tasks in a physical therapist’s office. The coursework may also cover the basics of physical therapy so PT aides in the field can answer questions if needed.

After program completion, many graduates work toward careers as physical therapy aides. Many certificate programs also help prepare students to pursue industry certification that’s designated for physical therapy aides or technicians. To qualify for certification, applicants generally have to take an exam and possess some education or training from an accredited institution.

Other graduates may pursue further education to become physical therapist assistants, recreational therapists, fitness trainers, or other jobs that help people in similar ways.

Physical Therapy Aide Careers and Salaries

Physical Therapy Aide Careers and Salaries

Most students who complete physical therapy aide programs online want to pursue careers as physical therapist aides. These professionals work under the supervision of physical therapists or physical therapist assistants.

Some graduates with a PT aide certification may pursue further education training to advance their careers in the physical therapy arena. For instance, they may work toward jobs as physical therapist assistants or recreational therapists.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries of careers associated with physical therapy aides and related support roles.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Physical Therapist Assistants $62,770
Fitness Trainers and Instructors $45,380
Occupational Therapy Aides $37,060
Physical Therapist Aides — Skilled Nursing Facilities $36,920
Physical Therapist Aides — Hospitals $34,510
Physical Therapist Aides — Offices of Physicians $33,650
Recreation Workers $31,680
Home Health and Personal Care Aides $30,180
Physical Therapist Aides — Offices of PTs, OTs, SLPs, and Audiologists $29,810
Physical Therapist Aides — Government $28,040

Physical therapist aides typically spend their days performing routine tasks that don’t always involve patients, such as administrative or cleaning tasks in the physical therapy area. Physical therapist assistants may work more directly with patients, but this role requires an associate degree.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 19% job growth for physical therapist aides over the next ten years. Those with PT aide training may also pursue roles that help people improve their physical performance, such as fitness trainers and rehabilitation aides.

Physical Therapy Aide Curriculum & Courses

students taking Physical Therapy Aide Certification in group study

The curriculum in physical therapy aide schools can vary, but below are examples of the types of courses you may come across:

  • Introduction to Physical Therapy: You’ll learn about the history of physical therapy and what different types of professionals in the field do.
  • Introduction to Medical Terminology: This class provides students with foundational knowledge of basic medical terminology, especially as it relates to physical therapy.
  • Common Physical Disorders: You’ll learn about different musculoskeletal disorders, how they affect the body, and how they can be treated.
  • Physical Therapy Treatments: This course covers foundational knowledge of certain physical therapy treatments, including hot and cold deep healing options.
  • Workplace Health and Safety: You’ll learn different methods to help maintain a safe work environment, including CPR, first aid, infection control, and more.
  • Professionalism in Allied Health: This class covers a plethora of soft skills needed to maintain professionalism in a healthcare setting, including communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Medical Office Procedures and Administration: You’ll learn about various laws and ethics relating to working in healthcare, as well as administrative tasks like bookkeeping, managing records, and more.
  • Fundamentals of Physical Therapy: This course dives into different tasks a physical therapy aide might help with, including patient preparation and transfers.
  • Exercise and Mobility Training: You’ll learn about different forms of exercise and the effect they have on the body.
  • Customer Service: This class helps you develop tools to be an effective caregiver to patients, including basic customer service skills.

In addition to classes like these, your program may provide options for an apprenticeship or another way to get work experience.

Admissions Requirements

Woman preparing requirements for Physical Therapy Aide Certification

There typically aren’t many requirements when applying to a physical therapist aide certification program, but here are a few common ones:

  • High school diploma
  • High school transcripts
  • Minimum GPA
  • Online application

In general, certificate programs want to see that you’ve completed a high school education. They typically want your official transcripts as well to verify your GPA. After completing a physical therapy aide program, students may be better prepared to take an industry certification exam to progress in their careers.

Physical Therapy Aide Programs Accreditation

University offering Physical Therapy Aide Programs

Before choosing a program to get your physical therapy aide certificate from, it’s strategic to make sure the school is accredited. Completing your training at an accredited school may come in handy down the line when looking for job opportunities.

If a school is accredited, a third-party accrediting organization has determined that it meets a series of academic quality standards. If you’re hoping to apply for federal financial aid, it could be necessary to enroll in this type of school. To learn more, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website.

Physical Therapy Aide Licensure and Certifications

PT Aide taking notes while evaluating a patient

After completing a certificate program in physical therapy aide, you might consider pursuing industry certification to help progress your career.

While states don’t require physical therapy aides to be licensed, the American Medical Certification Association (AMCA) offers the Physical Therapy Technician Certification (PTTC). Completing a PT aide certificate program can help you prepare for the two-hour PTTC certification exam that covers topics like infection control, ethics, medical terminology, and more.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Physical Therapy Aide Certification Financial Aid

If you are interested in applying for financial aid, you can explore the options that are available to qualifying students at the Federal Student Aid website.

Student loans from the federal government are some of the most common forms of aid. Scholarships and grants can come from the federal government, your state government, school, or private organizations. Work-study programs may be available to qualifying students as well. In these types of programs, students earn at least the current federal minimum wage and typically hold a part-time job while they’re in school.

For work-study programs, the award you get often depends on your eligibility, when you apply, your level of financial need, and your school’s funding level.

What Can You Do with a Physical Therapy Aide Training Certificate?

Fitness Trainer with Physical Therapy Aide Certification

Most people who complete a physical therapy aide training certificate go on to become physical therapist aides. These professionals help physical therapists and physical therapist assistants with their daily tasks under their supervision. The tasks they’re allowed to do vary by state.

Some graduates may pursue other jobs that help people improve their physical performance, like fitness trainers and instructors. Graduates may also pursue further training and education if they want to become physical therapists or PT assistants. Physical therapist assistants require an associates-level education, while licensed PTs hold doctorates. Others may pursue a bachelors to become recreational therapists.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Physical Therapy Aide Certificate Online?

Woman taking Physical Therapy Aide Certificate online

The timeframe for completing an online physical therapy aide program can vary depending on your school’s class schedule and the type of classes offered.

Many online programs are self-paced, so students can often complete their coursework as slowly or quickly as they want. Some students are able to complete a physical therapy aide certificate in as little as 2 months to 4 months. If you enroll part-time or take some time off from studying, it may take longer to finish.

What’s the Difference Between a Physical Therapy Assistant vs. Aide?

Physical therapy assistants and aides both help physical therapists do their jobs on a day-to-day basis, but there are a few key differences between the two roles.

Physical Therapy Assistant Physical Therapy Aide
  • Works directly with patients
  • Oversees exercises
  • Reports updates to physical therapists
  • Works under a physical therapist or PT assistant
  • Maintains clinic cleanliness
  • Schedules patient appointments

A physical therapy assistant is required to have an associates in the field, whereas an aide can earn an academic certificate or receive on-the-job training.

Is an Online Physical Therapy Aide Certificate Worth It?

Physical Therapy Aide guiding a patient to stand

Yes, an online physical therapy aide certificate is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for physical therapist aides is projected to grow by 19% over the next ten years. This growth is much faster than the average for all occupations.

While aides aren’t always required to have postsecondary education, completing a PT aide training program could help you gain foundational knowledge and marketable skills. Plus, if you are interested in one day becoming a physical therapist assistant, earning a certificate could help you begin your education in the field and start learning the ropes.

Earning Your Physical Therapy Aide Certificate Online

student getting Physical Therapy Aide Certificate online

If you’re interested in learning the skills necessary to pursue a career as a physical therapy aide, you may enjoy getting your physical therapy aide certificate online. These programs can typically be completed in under a year, and online options allow for additional flexibility.

Students in these programs typically learn about workplace ethics, the foundations of physical therapy, medical office procedures, and more. A PT aide training program may also provide opportunities for you to practically apply your knowledge.

You could start exploring accredited schools today to see which online physical therapy aide certificate programs best fit your schedule and interests.

Ready to start your journey?