Physical Therapist Assistant

Learn more about the Physical Therapist Assistant Program at ECC!

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Overview

In just two years, Elgin Community College’s Physical Therapist Assistant program prepares students to be successfully employed. Our state-of-the-art lab spaces let them practice on the equipment they’ll use in the field. We also partner with clinics to give students hands-on clinical experiences; many students receive job offers from those internships. If you’re passionate about physical fitness, learning how the body works, wellness, and helping others, becoming a physical therapist assistant (PTA) could be your ideal career.

Successful PTAs have exceptional communication skills and enjoy working with people of all ages. ECC’s program teaches you how to create exercise programs for patients with different levels of mobility, utilize appropriate treatment methods, problem-solve effectively, and work collaboratively with other healthcare team members.

Planning to Transfer? Learn more about earning a Bachelor’s degree, earning summer credits for transfer, or dual admissions with a university by making an appointment with an academic advisor

Physical Therapist Assistant Application Deadline

The applications must be submitted by March 15 to be considered for the following Fall admissions.

  • Admit one time per year - Fall only.

Prepare for Immediate Employment

The job outlook for Physical Therapy Assistants (PTAs) is very positive. This growth is expected to be driven by an aging population and an increased need for rehabilitation services. Additionally, PTAs will be in high demand as they can help to reduce the workload of physical therapists, allowing them to see more patients. Roughly 25,500 job openings are projected each year over the next decade.

Overall, the job outlook for PTAs is very good and the field is expected to continue growing in the coming years. Refer to Career Coach to learn more about similar occupations and compensation.

Median Pay Rates

Plan of Study and Course Descriptions

Review the ECC catalog for details about the physical therapy assistant plan of study and course descriptions.

Associate of Applied Science

How to become a Physical Therapist Assistant?

To work as a Physical Therapist Assistant in the United States, you must graduate from a Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education - an accredited physical therapist assistant education program and pass a state-administered national exam to obtain licensure or certification required in most states.

The length of a PTA program is typically two years (five semesters). Primary content areas in the curriculum may include but are not limited to anatomy, physiology, exercise physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, neuroscience, clinical pathology, behavioral sciences, communication, and ethics/values.

Approximately 75% of the PTA curriculum is a classroom (didactic) and lab study; the remaining 25% is dedicated to clinical education. PTA students spend, on average, 16 weeks in full-time clinical education experiences.

What sets the ECC physical therapist assistant program apart?

ECC’s PTA program has proven outcomes in the last 15 years. Graduates of the program earn an Associate of Applied Science degree (AAS) in Physical Therapist Assisting. They are eligible to take the required PTA state licensure examination, which prepares you for entry-level employment in the physical therapy environment. We have a track record of passing all our students on the PTA state licensure exam. Plus, over 90 percent of our graduates are employed as PTAs yearly. Learn more about our program effectiveness.

How long does it take to become a physical therapist assistant?

Elgin Community College’s PTA program can be completed in five semesters over two years, including a 10-week summer semester. The program consists of 71-74 credit hours, including classroom and laboratory components. PTA students complete three clinical rotations, in which they learn under the direction and supervision of a licensed PT.

What does a physical therapist assistant do?

As a PTA, you will work under the direction and supervision of licensed physical therapists (PT) to help people of all ages address various health issues and medical diagnoses. Your understanding of kinesiology and biology will inform how you use exercise and movement to help your patients reduce pain and gain mobility. The ultimate goal is to restore optimal function.

A successful PTA exhibits empathy and understanding for patients with all illnesses and disabilities while demonstrating competency in knowledge and clinical skills. A career in physical therapy is challenging but extremely rewarding. Common areas of employment include:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Outpatient sites
  • Home health
  • Private practice
  • Pediatric
  • Long-term care settings

Learn more about PTA careers and work settings from the American Physical Therapy Association.

Physical Therapist Assistant Program Accreditation


The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Elgin Community College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE); 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org; website: Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call the PTA Program Office at 847-214-7289 or email bostrowska@elgin.edu.

Getting a Job in Physical Therapy


What is the difference between a physical therapist and a physical therapist assistant?

PTs are mainly concerned with diagnosing patients and developing a rehabilitation program tailored to the patient’s prognosis. PTAs focus more on preparing patients to be diagnosed and assisting in executing the rehabilitation plan. Becoming a PT requires an advanced degree, such as a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), which typically requires three years of schooling after a bachelor’s degree.

What type of student does well in the PTA program?

We have a wide range of students entering our program, from recent high school graduates to those working as rehabilitation aides and technicians. Many of our students already have bachelor’s degrees in kinesiology or exercise science.