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Become A Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant

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Working As A Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Deal with People

  • $78,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant Do

Physical therapist assistants, sometimes called PTAs, and physical therapist aides work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain. Physical therapist assistants are involved in the direct care of patients. Physical therapist aides often do tasks that are indirectly related to patient care, such as cleaning and setting up the treatment area, moving patients, and performing clerical duties.

Duties

Physical therapist assistants typically do the following:

  • Observe patients before, during, and after therapy, noting patient status and reporting it to a physical therapist
  • Help patients do specific exercises as part of the plan of care
  • Treat patients using a variety of techniques, such as massage and stretching
  • Use devices and equipment, such as walkers, to help patients
  • Educate a patient and family members about what to do after treatment

Physical therapist aides typically do the following:

  • Clean treatment areas and set up therapy equipment
  • Wash linens
  • Help patients move to or from a therapy area
  • Do clerical tasks, such as answering phones and scheduling patients

Physical therapist assistants help physical therapists provide care to patients. Under the direction and supervision of physical therapists, they treat patients through exercise, massage, gait and balance training, and other therapeutic interventions. Physical therapist assistants record patients’ progress and report the results of each treatment to the physical therapist.

Physical therapist aides work under the direct supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant. They usually are responsible for keeping the treatment area clean and organized, and preparing for each patient's therapy. They also help patients who need assistance moving to or from a treatment area. In addition, aides do a variety of clerical tasks, such as ordering supplies, scheduling treatment sessions, and filling out insurance forms. The types of tasks that physical therapist aides are allowed to perform vary by state. Contact your state licensing board for more information.

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How To Become A Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant

Physical therapist assistants entering the profession need an associate’s degree from an accredited program. All states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed or certified. Physical therapist aides usually have a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training.

Education and Training

All states require physical therapist assistants to have an associate’s degree from an accredited physical therapist assistant program. There were more than 300 associate’s degree programs for physical therapist assistants accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education in 2015.

Programs typically last about 2 years. Classroom study includes courses in algebra, English, anatomy, physiology, and psychology. Assistants also gain hands-on experience during supervised clinical work. They may earn certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other first-aid skills.

Physical therapist aides typically have a high school diploma or the equivalent. They usually gain clinical experience through on-the-job training that can last from about a week to a month. Employers often prefer to hire applicants with computer skills.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed or certified. Licensure typically requires graduation from an accredited physical therapist assistant program and passing the National Physical Therapy Exam for physical therapist assistants administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Some states require that applicants pass additional state-administered exams, undergo a criminal background check, and be at least 18 years old. Physical therapist assistants also may need to take continuing education courses to keep their license. Check with your state board for specific licensing requirements.

Physical therapist aides are not required to be licensed.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Physical therapist assistants and aides should enjoy helping people. They work with people who are in pain, and they must have empathy to help their patients.

Detail oriented. Like other healthcare professionals, physical therapist assistants and aides should be organized and have a keen eye for detail. They must keep accurate records and follow written and verbal instructions carefully to ensure quality care.

Dexterity. Physical therapist assistants should be comfortable using their hands to provide manual therapy and therapeutic exercises. Aides should also be comfortable working with their hands to set up equipment and prepare treatment areas.

Interpersonal skills. Physical therapist assistants and aides spend much of their time interacting with clients, their families, and other healthcare practitioners; and therefore should be courteous and friendly.

Physical stamina. Physical therapist assistants and aides are frequently on their feet and moving as they work with their patients. They must often kneel, stoop, bend, and stand for long periods. They should enjoy physical activity.

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Do you work as a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant?

Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant Demographics

Gender

Female

61.7%

Male

28.8%

Unknown

9.5%
Ethnicity

White

60.4%

Black or African American

13.6%

Hispanic or Latino

12.9%

Asian

9.9%

Unknown

3.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

73.9%

French

4.3%

Hindi

4.3%

Tagalog

4.3%

Russian

4.3%

Arabic

4.3%

Tamil

4.3%
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Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant Education

Schools

Wallace State Community College - Hanceville

12.1%

Jefferson College of Health Sciences

7.4%

Tidewater Community College

7.4%

Bishop State Community College

5.9%

Wytheville Community College

5.9%

Jefferson State Community College

5.5%

South University

5.5%

Northern Virginia Community College

5.5%

Professional Skills Institute

5.1%

Pearl River Community College

4.7%

Cuyahoga Community College

4.3%

Keiser University

4.3%

University of Alabama at Birmingham

3.9%

Central Piedmont Community College

3.5%

Baker College

3.5%

Southwestern Illinois College

3.1%

Walters State Community College

3.1%

Pennsylvania State University

3.1%

Sinclair Community College

3.1%

Roane State Community College

3.1%
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Majors

Physical Therapy

66.6%

Medical Assisting Services

12.6%

Business

4.0%

Kinesiology

2.1%

Nursing

1.9%

Health Sciences And Services

1.8%

Health Care Administration

1.7%

Military Applied Sciences

1.3%

Somatic Bodywork

1.2%

Clinical Psychology

1.1%

Biology

0.7%

General Studies

0.7%

Rehabilitation Science

0.7%

Psychology

0.6%

Education

0.6%

Public Health

0.5%

Physics

0.5%

Occupational Therapy

0.5%

Management

0.4%

Health Education

0.4%
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Degrees

Associate

70.4%

Bachelors

12.0%

Other

9.7%

Masters

3.8%

Certificate

1.9%

Doctorate

1.2%

License

0.8%

Diploma

0.2%
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Top Skills for A Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant

  1. Physical Therapy
  2. Patient Care
  3. LPT
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provide contract physical therapy to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and out-patient clinics under the direction of a registered Physical Therapist.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in patient care, patient and family education, while developing a good rapport with patients and family members.
  • Functioned as a staff LPTA outpatient neurological/orthopedic setting
  • Developed and maintained effective working relationships with peers, clinical staff, and supervisors.
  • Developed and implemented an Aquatics Rehabilitation Program, a Senior Fitness Program and Rehabilitation Plans of Care for patients.

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Top Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant Employers

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