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Become A Physical Therapist Technician

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Working As A Physical Therapist Technician

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Deal with People

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $37,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Physical Therapist Technician Do

Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, help injured or ill people improve their movement and manage their pain. These therapists are often an important part of rehabilitation, treatment, and prevention of patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries.

Duties

Physical therapists typically do the following:

  • Review patients’ medical history and any referrals or notes from doctors, surgeons, or other healthcare workers
  • Diagnose patients’ functions and movements by observing them stand or walk and by listening to their concerns, among other methods
  • Develop individualized plans of care for patients, outlining the patients’ goals and the expected outcomes of the plans
  • Use exercises, stretching maneuvers, hands-on therapy, and equipment to ease patients’ pain, help them increase their mobility, prevent further pain or injury, and facilitate health and wellness
  • Evaluate and record a patient’s progress, modifying a plan of care and trying new treatments as needed
  • Educate patients and their families about what to expect from the recovery process and how best to cope with challenges throughout the process

Physical therapists provide care to people of all ages who have functional problems resulting from back and neck injuries; sprains, strains, and fractures; arthritis; amputations; neurological disorders, such as stroke or cerebral palsy; injuries related to work and sports; and other conditions.

Physical therapists are educated to use a variety of different techniques to care for their patients. These techniques include exercises; training in functional movement, which includes the use of equipment such as canes, crutches, wheelchairs, and walkers; and special movements of joints, muscles, and other soft tissue to improve movement and decrease pain.

The work of physical therapists varies by type of patient. For example, a patient working to recover mobility lost after a stroke needs different care from a patient who is recovering from a sports injury. Some physical therapists specialize in one type of care, such as orthopedics or geriatrics. Many physical therapists also help patients to maintain or improve mobility by developing fitness and wellness programs to encourage healthier and more active lifestyles.

Physical therapists work as part of a healthcare team, overseeing the work of physical therapist assistants and aides and consulting with physicians and surgeons and other specialists.

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How To Become A Physical Therapist Technician

Physical therapists need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. All states require physical therapists to be licensed.

Education

In 2015, there were more than 200 programs for physical therapists accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). All programs offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.

DPT programs typically last 3 years. Most programs require a bachelor’s degree for admission as well as specific educational prerequisites, such as classes in anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, and physics. Some programs admit college freshmen into 6- or 7-year programs that allow students to graduate with both a bachelor’s degree and a DPT. Most DPT programs require applicants to apply through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS).

Physical therapist programs often include courses in biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, and pharmacology. Physical therapist students also complete at least 30 weeks of clinical work, during which they gain supervised experience in areas such as acute care and orthopedic care.

Physical therapists may apply to and complete a clinical residency program after graduation. Residencies typically last about 1 year and provide additional training and experience in specialty areas of care. Therapists who have completed a residency program may choose to specialize further by completing a fellowship in an advanced clinical area.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require physical therapists to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state but all include passing the National Physical Therapy Examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Several states also require a law exam and a criminal background check. Continuing education is typically required for physical therapists to keep their license. Check with state boards for specific licensing requirements.

After gaining work experience, some physical therapists choose to become a board-certified specialist. The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties offers certification in 8 clinical specialty areas, including orthopedics, sports, and geriatric physical therapy. Board specialist certification requires passing an exam and at least 2,000 hours of clinical work or completion of an American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)-accredited residency program in the specialty area.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Physical therapists are often drawn to the profession in part by a desire to help people. They work with people who are in pain and must have empathy for their patients.

Detail oriented. Like other healthcare providers, physical therapists should have strong analytic and observational skills to diagnose a patient’s problem, evaluate treatments, and provide safe, effective care.

Dexterity. Physical therapists must use their hands to provide manual therapy and therapeutic exercises. They should feel comfortable massaging and otherwise physically assisting patients.

Interpersonal skills. Because physical therapists spend a lot of time interacting with patients, they should enjoy working with people. They must be able to clearly explain treatment programs, motivate patients, and listen to patients’ concerns to provide effective therapy.

Physical stamina. Physical therapists spend much of their time on their feet, moving as they demonstrate proper techniques and help patients perform exercises. They should enjoy physical activity.

Resourcefulness. Physical therapists customize treatment plans for patients. They must be flexible and able to adapt plans of care to meet the needs of each patient.

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Physical Therapist Technician Career Paths

Physical Therapist Technician
Personal Trainer General Manager
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Staff Nurse Clinical Director
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Athletic Trainer Instructor Operations Manager
Center Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Technician Service Manager General Manager
Chief Executive Officer
8 Yearsyrs
Massage Therapist Registered Nurse Staff Nurse
Clinical Services Director
11 Yearsyrs
Certified Personal Trainer Fitness Manager
Club Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Massage Therapist Licensed Practical Nurse Nursing Director
Director Of Clinical Operations
12 Yearsyrs
Chiropractor Assistant Front Desk Coordinator Front Office Manager
Director Of Front Office
5 Yearsyrs
Technician Case Manager Social Worker
Director Of Social Work
6 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Specialist Family Specialist
Family Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Rehabilitation Technician Case Manager Clinical Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Chiropractor Assistant Chiropractor Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Certified Personal Trainer Massage Therapist Clinical Manager
Patient Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Physical Therapy Technician Office Manager
Practice Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Personal Trainer Security Officer Case Manager
Registered Nurse Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Physical Therapy Technician Massage Therapist Registered Nurse
Registered Nurse Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Athletic Trainer Physical Therapist Assistant Physical Therapist
Rehab Director
6 Yearsyrs
Rehabilitation Technician Physical Therapist Assistant Physical Therapist
Rehabilitation Services Director
8 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Rehab Technician 2.4 years
Therapy Technician 2.2 years
Top Careers Before Physical Therapist Technician
Internship 15.1%
Cashier 8.1%
Volunteer 6.7%
Server 3.7%
Assistant 3.0%
Top Careers After Physical Therapist Technician
Internship 5.6%
Technician 4.2%
Manager 3.8%
Server 3.5%

Do you work as a Physical Therapist Technician?

Physical Therapist Technician Demographics

Gender

Female

60.0%

Male

39.0%

Unknown

0.9%
Ethnicity

White

59.2%

Hispanic or Latino

18.4%

Black or African American

13.4%

Asian

5.8%

Unknown

3.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

72.4%

Swedish

6.9%

Chinese

3.4%

Vietnamese

3.4%

Uzbek

3.4%

Mandarin

3.4%

Thai

3.4%

Korean

3.4%
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Physical Therapist Technician Education

Schools

University of Kentucky

8.4%

University of Phoenix

8.4%

Michigan State University

6.0%

Eastern Michigan University

6.0%

Eastern Kentucky University

6.0%

Towson University

6.0%

University of North Texas

4.8%

California University of Pennsylvania

4.8%

University of Alabama at Birmingham

4.8%

Texas State University

4.8%

Delgado Community College

4.8%

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

4.8%

Grand Canyon University

4.8%

Alcorn State University

3.6%

University of Maryland - University College

3.6%

Arizona State University

3.6%

Texas Tech University

3.6%

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

3.6%

Pennsylvania State University

3.6%

Volunteer State Community College

3.6%
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Majors

Kinesiology

24.4%

Physical Therapy

19.5%

Nursing

6.3%

Business

5.8%

Psychology

5.6%

Health Care Administration

4.8%

Biology

4.3%

Medical Assisting Services

4.3%

General Studies

3.0%

Health Sciences And Services

2.8%

Athletic Training

2.5%

Exercise Physiology

2.5%

Education

2.3%

Health Education

2.3%

Food And Nutrition

1.8%

Criminal Justice

1.8%

Elementary Education

1.5%

Music

1.5%

Health And Wellness

1.5%

Rehabilitation Science

1.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

41.4%

Other

24.2%

Masters

13.1%

Associate

12.4%

Doctorate

4.3%

Certificate

2.6%

Diploma

1.3%

License

0.7%
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Top Skills for A Physical Therapist Technician

  1. Occupational Therapists
  2. Patient Care
  3. Ultrasound
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Assisted physical and occupational therapists with patient needs including ambulation, personal hygiene, group therapy and exercise programs.
  • Assisted physical therapists in direct patient care and patient preparation, both independently and under supervision.
  • Administered treatment through use of ultrasound/electric stimulation machines.
  • Assisted Physical Therapists by setting up electrical stimulation and ultrasound.
  • Completed the tasks of inputting records, scheduling appointments, billing information, and taking new patient information.

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