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Become A Physical Therapy Technician

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Working As A Physical Therapy Technician

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

  • $33,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Physical Therapy Technician 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 Therapy Technician

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 Therapy Technician Career Paths

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Physical Therapy Technician Demographics

Gender

Female

62.4%

Male

36.3%

Unknown

1.3%
Ethnicity

White

59.9%

Hispanic or Latino

16.1%

Black or African American

13.5%

Asian

7.1%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

64.5%

Swedish

5.4%

French

4.9%

Arabic

3.9%

Russian

3.4%

German

3.0%

Chinese

2.5%

Vietnamese

1.5%

Mandarin

1.5%

Italian

1.5%

Portuguese

1.5%

Gujarati

1.0%

Hindi

1.0%

Korean

1.0%

Japanese

1.0%

Romanian

0.5%

Dutch

0.5%

Yoruba

0.5%

Dari

0.5%

Thai

0.5%
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Physical Therapy Technician Education

Schools

Towson University

7.4%

Oakland University

6.9%

University of Saint Augustine for Health Sciences

6.2%

Delgado Community College

6.0%

Texas State University

5.7%

Southeastern Louisiana University

5.7%

University of North Texas

5.0%

University of Louisville

5.0%

University of Phoenix

5.0%

Arizona State University

4.8%

Old Dominion University

4.8%

Northern Arizona University

4.8%

Texas A&M University

4.8%

University of Kentucky

4.5%

Unitech Training Academy - Lafayette

4.3%

Virginia Commonwealth University

4.0%

Brigham Young University

3.8%

East Carolina University

3.8%

University of Central Arkansas

3.8%

University of Texas at El Paso

3.8%
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Majors

Kinesiology

26.4%

Physical Therapy

19.1%

Medical Assisting Services

7.4%

Nursing

6.2%

Biology

5.1%

Business

5.0%

Psychology

4.0%

Health Care Administration

2.7%

Athletic Training

2.6%

Health Sciences And Services

2.5%

Exercise Physiology

2.5%

General Studies

2.4%

Medical Technician

2.1%

Physician Assistant

2.1%

Health Education

1.9%

Criminal Justice

1.7%

Health And Wellness

1.7%

Occupational Therapy

1.5%

Public Health

1.4%

Education

1.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

40.7%

Other

20.9%

Masters

13.3%

Associate

13.1%

Doctorate

6.5%

Certificate

4.0%

Diploma

1.0%

License

0.5%
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Top Skills for A Physical Therapy Technician

  1. Patient Care
  2. Occupational Therapists
  3. Ultrasound
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Communicated to therapists on patient performance, condition and participation during delegated patient care activities.
  • Worked with a team of 12 physical therapists and occupational therapists specialized in orthopedic, pediatric, and neurological rehabilitation.
  • Assisted PT's in rehabilitating patients and familiarized with certain medical and therapeutic equipment (Electric Stimulation and Ultrasound)
  • Administered ultrasound, electrical stimulation and mechanical traction, according to specific parameters set by the therapist.
  • Provided recommendations regarding the hiring of new sports medicine and physical therapy technicians and assisted directors with technician performance evaluations.

How Would You Rate Working As a Physical Therapy Technician?

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Top Physical Therapy Technician Employers

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