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Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant

Open for Fall 2017

Length: 2 Years
Credential: Diploma
Available: Full Time Classroom

Program Highlights

Train to become a physical and occupational therapy assistant so you can make a difference to clients with injuries or health conditions. This program teaches anatomy, rehabilitation theory and the practical skills needed to work in rehab centres, hospitals and other facilities.

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Grad Employment Rate


Median Starting Salary

Upcoming Information Sessions

Tuition and Fees Per Year*

Year 1: $3,589
Year 2: $3,108
Year 1 (International): $15,111
Year 2 (International): $12,535

*Tuition, fees, books and supply costs are subject to change


You will be offered admission to this program if you meet the admission requirements and qualify through competitive entry. Competitive entry is based on a two-step process: a program selection package and an interview. 

When can you apply?

Fall 2017 start: applications are accepted Oct. 19, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017. 

Program Details

Program description

Watch a video about Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant studies at SAITMedical advances permit a growing number of children and adults to live successfully with disabilities. Clients, who have experienced an injury or a health condition that has impacted their ability to function in day-to-day life, can maximize their physical, mental and social abilities through rehabilitation. Under the supervision of an occupational therapist or physiotherapist, the therapist assistant works with clients across the lifespan with the goal of helping the clients to be active participants in society. Therapist assistants also support facility administration by managing therapeutic supplies and maintaining equipment.

SAIT's Rehabilitation Therapist Assistant diploma program trains students to become knowledgeable and skilled assistants in occupational and physical therapy. Course content meets or exceeds the essential competencies required for support personnel in both professions.

The Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant program is two years in length and is comprised of four semesters. The first semester of the program addresses key concepts of rehabilitation and healthcare delivery. Observational visits to the clinical settings assist the student in integrating knowledge of normal physical and psychological function with basic therapeutic skills. More advanced rehabilitation concepts, common health conditions and therapeutic skills used in occupational therapy and physical therapy are taught in the second semester. Professionalism and communication skills are also emphasized and practiced when the student completes a two-week practicum.

The third semester of the program, advanced therapeutic skills and complex health conditions are integrated in a second two-week practicum. In the fourth and final semester, professional practices are integrated in the 12-week practicum. The student returns to SAIT for the final two weeks of the semester for comprehensive practical examinations and to consolidate his/her experiences.

Students must be disciplined for learning through self-study, face-to-face at SAIT, and in a clinical setting and online. Practica experiences are unpaid and may occur outside the Calgary area.

Some courses will require an online component and will require students to have computer and Internet access and e-mail capabilities. All courses require additional self-study.

Your Career

Graduates find work in a variety of settings including rehabilitation centres, mental health facilities, long-term care facilities, hospitals, schools and private physiotherapy and occupational therapy services in both urban and rural settings.

Student Success

Students must be physically fit and able to lift a minimum weight of 50 pounds.
Previous work or volunteer experience in a health- or wellness-related field is an asset.
Students who experience success in this program:

  • Have at least basic computer skills
  • Possess effective communication skills in both written and spoken
  • English
  • Have higher secondary or post-secondary marks
  • Are self-directed, highly motivated, detail oriented and well-organized
  • Are professional and flexible
  • Enjoy working in a team environment and in diverse settings
  • Above all, enjoy relating to others

Transfer Options

Once completed, this SAIT credential may be eligible for transfer credit at another post-secondary institution. Visit Transfer Options to learn more about the transfer agreements currently available to SAIT graduates and incoming students.

Have questions? Write to us at transfer.options@sait.ca.

Admission Requirements

Admission and Selection

  • Fall 2017 start: applications are accepted Oct. 19, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017.

Admission Requirements

Completion of the following courses or equivalents with an overall average of at least 60%:

  • English Language Arts 30-1, AND,
  • Biology 30, AND,
  • Chemistry 20 or Science 20.
  • All applicants must demonstrate English Language Proficiency prior to admission, including students educated in Canada.

Competitive Entry: Seven Step Process

Step 1: Read the program information to see the qualities needed for student success.

Step 2: Ensure that you meet all of the admission requirements listed above.

Step 3: Review the selection information to understand the process and deadlines 

  • Applications and proof of the admission requirements (transcripts and/or anticipated final grades) along with all supporting documents must be submitted by Feb. 28 to be included in selection.
  • If the program is not oversubscribed on March 1, the remaining seats will be offered to applicants on a first-qualified, first-offered basis.

In the selection process, applicants will be assessed on the following criteria and seats will be offered accordingly.

Phase 1: Program Selection Package

Applicants who meet the admission requirements will be sent a program selection package via email.

The selection package must be completed and returned to SAIT by the date indicated on the selection package cover page.

You are solely responsible to ensure the information in the selection package is legible, articulate and best reflects you as a candidate. Falsifying information will result in your application being removed immediately from the selection process. 

Selection packages are evaluated using standardized answer keys and will be scored within two weeks of submission.

  • If the selection package score is above the benchmark established by the School of Health and Public Safety, the applicant will move to Phase 2 of the selection process.
  • If the selection package score is below benchmark, the applicant will be declined in selection.
  • Applicants who fail to complete and submit their packages by the deadline date will also be declined from further selection.

Phase 2: Interview

Applicants who successfully move to Phase 2 of the selection process will be emailed an interview invitation as well as a group interview explanation and Confidentiality form. 

  • Group interviews will not begin until February to ensure a sufficient applicant pool.
  • The applicant will receive two weeks' notice of the scheduled interview, when possible.
  • The completed and signed Confidentiality form should be brought to the group interview.
  • Three applicants will be interviewed at one time by three members of the program selection committee.

Interviewees should attend the group interview session in person. Individuals residing outside of Alberta may have the opportunity to participate in a web video conference group interview. Please note that web video conference group interviews may be delayed until there are sufficient web video conference applicants to complete a group interview session.

The program and selection committee are not responsible for technical support to the applicant or any loss of connectivity through the group interview process. Web conference interviews will not be rebooked if an individual has technical difficulties, loses connectivity, or cannot hear the group interview responses.

Step 4: Apply to Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant and submit your transcripts.

Step 5: Log in to mySAIT.ca to check your admission status. If eligible, your status will indicate that you're "In Selection."

Step 6: Complete your selection package. 

Step 7: Continue to monitor changes to your application status through mySAIT.ca.

Failure to meet anticipated final grades will result in offers being rescinded.

Communication During Selection

Email is the primary source of communication during the selection process. Ensure your personal email account is managed appropriately to receive our emails, files and communications.

We recommend you add hps.info@sait.ca and the sait.ca domain to your safe senders list or you risk missing critical email messages.

Due to the significant number of applications for this program, the selection process can take some time. Every effort will be made to maintain the timelines outlined above. We appreciate your patience. You can also log on to mySAIT.ca to check your admission decision status.

Unfortunately, due to the extremely large volume of applicants, we cannot provide any assistance or follow-up as to why the candidate was not competitive or where the applicant is ranked on the waitlist.  

Practicum Requirements

The School of Health and Public Safety has many practica partners located within Alberta and across Canada. Practicum placements in Calgary are limited and students are frequently required to relocate outside of Calgary for practicum.

Successful candidates will be informed of the allocation of their practicum placement by the program. There is no guarantee that students will be placed at their desired practicum location. Special considerations of personal circumstances will not be given in regards to assigning practicum placements. Students will be responsible for fees associated with practicum such as relocation and travel costs.

In compliance with the practica agreements with our clinical partners, successful candidates will be requested to provide proof of the following requirements:

  • Updated Immunization Records: Most practicum sites require students to demonstrate updated immunization status prior to attending practicum. Successful candidates will be asked to provide an up-to-date immunization record to the SAIT Health Clinic as part of the program orientation. Failure to do so could jeopardize a student's ability to complete the practicum portion of his/her program. The receiving practicum site has the right to refuse students who cannot prove they have met all the required immunizations. Please review the immunization process document for specific details. It is advised to start the immunization process early as it can take some time to complete.

  • Security Clearance: According to the Protection for Persons in Care Act, our practica sites require that students obtain a Police Information Check including Vulnerable Sector Check, prior to going on practicum. Any criminal code offence for which a pardon has not been received may be a deterrent to a student's entry into practicum, and therefore will result in an uncompleted program or non-graduating status. Successful candidates will be asked to provide a clear Police Information Check including Vulnerable Sector Check record to the School of Health and Public Safety main office by orientation day. Please review the security clearance process document for specific details. Be aware that record must be dated no earlier than 90 days prior to your program orientation day (typically orientation day is held the week prior to the first day of class).

  • N95 Respiratory Mask: Fit testing is done to determine which make and model of N95 respiratory mask should be used by an individual. In compliance with Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Code 2009, students are fit-tested for respiratory masks prior to their practica. Occupational Health and Safety Bulletin, Respiratory Protective Equipment: An Employer's Guide states the effectiveness of the respiratory protective equipment depends on an effective face piece seal to the skin of the face. The mask must be tight enough so that the person is breathing only air which has been filtered. The seal is dependent on facial differences (shape or size) or facial hair. Facial hair must be removed where the mask contacts the face for the test. Failure to adequately fit an N95 mask may result in a restricted practicum and\or limited employment. Additionally, a student may need to be tested again in two years or if there are changes to the face which impact the ability of the respirator to form an effective seal (e.g. Weight gain/loss, growth of facial hair, dental surgery, or facial scarring). 

  • Health and Wellness Status: Due to the demanding nature of the work in the health care field and Occupational Health and Safety requirements, the health care field has a strong focus on health and wellness. Students with a medical condition or disability that may impact them in a practicum setting are strongly advised to discuss concerns with the program academic chair and/or SAIT Accessibility Services as soon as possible upon acceptance into the program. Please review the attached document for guidance on entering an allied health program with a medical condition or disability. 

More details on the practica requirements per program are outlined on a pre-orientation website for successful candidates.


Program outline

  • To find the course description for a course shown below please go to our Course Finder.
  • This program is being reviewed and could undergo changes.
  • SAIT students are offered an opportunity to develop lifelong learning skills in an online environment. One or more courses in the Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant program are offered fully or partially online.

First Year

Semester 1 - Fall

Course CodeCourse NameCredit
ANPH-209*  Anatomy and Physiology  3.0
ORNT-208 Orientation to Rehabilitation  3.0
PROF-210  Introduction to Healthcare Delivery 1.5
PSYC-210  Lifespan Development 3.0
RHAB-230  Anatomy of Movement 3.0
RHAB-232  Fundamentals of Client Care 3.0
Semester 1 Total 16.5


Semester 2 - Winter

Course CodeCourse NameCredit
COMM-263 Practice Skills - Communication 1.5
PRCT-230 Practicum 1 3.0
RHAB-240 Practice Skills - Modalities 3.0
RHAB-242 Practice Skills - OTA Foundations 3.0
RHAB-244 Practice Skills - Exercise 3.0
RHAB-246 Health Conditions 1 3.0
Semester 2 Total 16.5
First Year Total 33.0

Second Year

Semester 3 - Fall

Course CodeCourse NameCredit
PRCT-232 Practicum 2 3.0
RHAB-260 Practice Skills - Mental Health Concepts 3.0
RHAB-262 OTA Advanced Practice Skills 3.0
RHAB-264 PTA Advanced Practice Skills 3.0
RHAB-266 Communication Disorders 1.5
RHAB-268 Health Conditions 2 3.0
Semester 3 Total 16.5
First Year Total 30.0


Semester 4 - Winter

Course CodeCourse NameCredit
PRCT-234  Practicum 3  6.0
PROF-260  Professional Practice  3.0
RHAB-270  Practicum Consolidation 1.5
Semester 4 Total 10.5
Second Year Total 27.0
Program Total


*Available by correspondence or online learning. The courses must be completed within the time frame shown in the program outline. Please contact the Academic Chair prior to enrolling in any online or correspondence courses. Please be advised that full-time student status requires students to take 60 per cent of a full course load per semester. Depending on the number of courses completed by correspondence, a student may be considered a part-time student, which may impact his/her financial loan status.


Students must attain a PGPA and/or a CGPA of 2.0 or better in each semester and pass the necessary prerequisite courses to progress through the program. To qualify for graduation, students must pass all courses, attain a CGPA of 2.0 or better and complete course requirements within the prescribed timelines.


Domestic tuition and fees*

YearTuition feesSAIT feesSAITSA fees2016/17 total
1 $2,646 $420 $523 $3,589
2 $2,165 $420 $523 $3,108

International tuition and fees*

YearTuition feesSAIT feesSAITSA fees2016/17 total
1 $14,168 $420 $523 $15,111
2 $11,592 $420 $523 $12,535

SAIT fees

Campus athletic and recreation fee: $160
Universal Transit Pass (UPass): $260

SAIT Students' Association fees

Health Plan: $110**
Dental Plan: $125**
SAIT Students' Association (SAITSA): $288

Books and supplies*

  • Students are responsible for any additional expenses related to their practicum including relocation costs to practicum sites outside of Calgary.
  • There is a fee associated with obtaining a police information check including Vulnerable Sector Check and is payable to the Police or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP.)
  • Textbooks and other learning materials cost about $1,500.
  • Students must have a personal computer and access to the Internet. Most classes are taught at SAIT, but some require online access. All courses require additional self‐study.

Find out about tuition and financial aid.

* Tuition, fees, books and supply costs are subject to change.
** For students with existing health and/or dental plans, please refer to the SAITSA website for information on opting out.

Contact Information

School of Health and Public Safety

Inspiring Stories

Hands-on instruction combined with lots of practice has given Shahn the assurance he needs to enter the job market.

Shahn Cui
Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant | 2016

“It’s prepared us for our placements. I’m more ready for a job; I feel very prepared, very confident.”