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Become A Physical Therapist Assistant

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Working As A 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

  • $77,000

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 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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Physical Therapist Assistant Career Paths

Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical Therapist Outpatient Physical Therapist Case Manager
Clinical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Office Manager
Practice Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Registered Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor
Nurse Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Staff Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor
Assistant Director Of Nursing
7 Yearsyrs
Physical Therapist Therapist Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Physical Therapist Therapist Manager
Chief Executive Officer
8 Yearsyrs
PRN Speech Language Pathologist Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Services Director
11 Yearsyrs
PRN Senior Technician Specialist Nursing Director
Director Of Clinical Operations
12 Yearsyrs
PRN Registered Nurse Supervisor Nursing Director
Wellness Director
7 Yearsyrs
Massage Therapist Therapist Clinical Manager
Clinical Operations Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Consultant Nurse Nursing Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Consultant Nurse Assistant Director Of Nursing
Director Of Staff Development
7 Yearsyrs
Technician Maintenance Supervisor Service Supervisor
Patient Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Instructor Special Education Teacher Speech Language Pathologist
Therapy Program Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Massage Therapist Lead Therapist Clinical Director
Director Of Rehabilitation
7 Yearsyrs
Instructor Lead Teacher House Manager
Home Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Massage Therapist Licensed Practical Nurse Occupational Health Nurse
Health Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Staff Physical Therapist Rehabilitation Center Manager Director Of Rehabilitation
Rehab Director
6 Yearsyrs
Clinical Instructor Clinical Manager Director Of Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation Services Director
8 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Physical Therapist Assistant?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Physical Therapist 4.6 years
Top Careers Before Physical Therapist Assistant
Internship 6.4%
Volunteer 5.6%
Cashier 4.5%
PRN 3.4%
Server 2.9%
Manager 2.5%
Top Careers After Physical Therapist Assistant
PRN 10.1%
Cashier 3.5%
Volunteer 3.4%
Manager 3.3%
Internship 3.2%
Server 3.0%

Do you work as a Physical Therapist Assistant?

Physical Therapist Assistant Demographics

Gender

Female

61.0%

Male

31.0%

Unknown

8.1%
Ethnicity

White

62.8%

Hispanic or Latino

15.5%

Black or African American

10.7%

Asian

7.5%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

61.2%

French

4.7%

Russian

3.9%

Portuguese

3.1%

Chinese

2.9%

Polish

2.9%

Tagalog

2.4%

Arabic

2.4%

Hindi

2.1%

German

2.1%

Swedish

1.8%

Thai

1.8%

Korean

1.3%

Italian

1.3%

Vietnamese

1.0%

Gujarati

1.0%

Mandarin

1.0%

Ukrainian

1.0%

Filipino

1.0%

Urdu

0.8%
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Physical Therapist Assistant Education

Schools

South University

10.3%

Keiser University

9.6%

Pennsylvania State University

7.5%

Baker College

7.1%

Kent State University

5.9%

Houston Community College

4.8%

Broward College

4.5%

Professional Skills Institute

4.4%

Essex County College

4.4%

Morton College

4.1%

Florida State College at Jacksonville

4.1%

Miami Dade College

4.0%

Greenville Technical College

4.0%

University of Phoenix

3.9%

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

3.8%

Green River Community College

3.7%

Cuyahoga Community College

3.5%

Sinclair Community College

3.5%

Kellogg Community College

3.5%

Lehigh Carbon Community College

3.5%
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Majors

Physical Therapy

63.5%

Medical Assisting Services

12.6%

Kinesiology

4.4%

Business

3.2%

Nursing

2.2%

Health Care Administration

1.9%

Health Sciences And Services

1.8%

Psychology

1.5%

Biology

1.3%

Management

1.0%

Somatic Bodywork

0.8%

General Studies

0.8%

Health Education

0.7%

Military Applied Sciences

0.7%

Education

0.7%

Clinical Psychology

0.6%

Public Health

0.6%

Physics

0.6%

Liberal Arts

0.5%

Medical Technician

0.5%
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Degrees

Associate

60.0%

Bachelors

16.8%

Other

12.9%

Masters

5.1%

Certificate

1.9%

Doctorate

1.9%

Diploma

0.8%

License

0.5%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$77,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$38,000
Min 10%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$156,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Aurora Medical Group
Highest Paying City
Boulder, CO
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
4.4 years
How much does a Physical Therapist Assistant make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Physical Therapist Assistant in the United States is $77,935 per year or $37 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $38,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $156,000.

Real Physical Therapist Assistant Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Physical Therapist Assistant River Health Care, LLC Mercedes, TX May 01, 2016 $75,000
Physical Therapist Assistant Interface Rehab Inc. Placentia, CA Sep 01, 2014 $72,628
Physical Therapist Assistant Cumberland Therapy Services, LLC New Castle, DE May 19, 2011 $65,741
Physical Therapist Assistant A and A Satellite CA Jan 09, 2016 $56,349 -
$73,045
Physical Therapist Assistant River Health Care, LLC Mercedes, TX Jan 12, 2015 $55,000
Physial Therapist Assistant Ca Physical Therapy Group, Inc. CA Feb 04, 2008 $54,074
Physical Therapist Assistant Santos Pt Services Inc. Cotulla, TX Oct 29, 2012 $53,824
Physical Therapist Assistant Santos Pt Services Inc. Cotulla, TX Dec 01, 2012 $53,824
Physical Therapist Assistant Sprint Health Solutions, LLC New York, NY May 15, 2015 $52,175
Physical Therapist Assistant Within Normal Limits Physical Therapy P.C. Amityville, NY Sep 01, 2015 $51,000
Physical Therapist Assistant-Clinical Education C Back In Action of Scottsdale LLC Scottsdale, AZ Oct 01, 2012 $50,902
Physical Therapist Assistant-Clinical Education C Back In Action of Scottsdale LLC Scottsdale, AZ Sep 27, 2012 $50,902
Physical Therapist Assistant Prime Healthcare Services Inc. New York, NY Sep 04, 2014 $45,914
Physical Therapist Assistant Glen Island Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation New Rochelle, NY Feb 09, 2016 $45,178
Physical Therapist Assistants IDO Center, Inc. New York, NY Jan 22, 2008 $45,079
Physical Therapist Assistants IDO Center, Inc. New York, NY Mar 17, 2010 $45,079
Physical Therapist Assistant Southern Nassau Physical Therapy P.C. Lynbrook, NY Oct 01, 2010 $44,000
Physical Therapist Assistant RN Staff Inc. NY May 14, 2012 $43,827
Physical Therapist Assistant Earth USA Services Inc. New York, NY Sep 03, 2015 $43,000
Physical Therapist Assistant Earth USA Services Inc. New York, NY Sep 12, 2015 $43,000
Physical Therapist Assistant Earth USA Services Inc. New York, NY Jul 02, 2015 $43,000

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Top Skills for A Physical Therapist Assistant

  1. Physical Therapy
  2. Patient Care
  3. Gait Training
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed Physical Therapy services under the supervision of a Physical Therapist.
  • Collaborated with Physical Therapists to facilitate use of Standardized tests in patient care in order to objectively measure patient progress.
  • Performed gait training with neurologically impaired patients.
  • Provided skilled physical therapy services to residents of skilled nursing facility under direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
  • Collaborated closely with Physical and Occupational therapists to establish patient treatment plans and goals primarily in skilled nursing facilities.

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Top 10 Best States for Physical Therapist Assistants

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Connecticut
  3. Alabama
  4. Texas
  5. Nevada
  6. Tennessee
  7. Oregon
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Florida
  10. Massachusetts
  • (227 jobs)
  • (233 jobs)
  • (368 jobs)
  • (1,009 jobs)
  • (108 jobs)
  • (358 jobs)
  • (280 jobs)
  • (52 jobs)
  • (847 jobs)
  • (514 jobs)

Top Physical Therapist Assistant Employers

Jobs From Top Physical Therapist Assistant Employers

Physical Therapist Assistant Videos

Physical Therapist Assistant, Career Video from drkit.org

Physical Therapist Assistant, Career Video from drkit.org

Physical Therapist Assistant (AAS) degree, Faculty Advice Video from drkit.org

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