What Does A Physical Therapy Assistant Do? As a physical therapy assistant (PTA), you’ll be the right-hand person to a physical therapist. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to help your patients recover from what injuries and illnesses ails them.
Your daily duties will go a little something like this:
- Observe the patient and create a report of your findings to give to your physical therapist boss.
- Assist patients during the therapy. Very often they’ll need help.
- Use massage and stretching techniques on your patients.
- Teach your patients how to properly use walkers, crutches, and other devices.
- Meet with the patient and their family to educate them on post-treatment protocol.
Both you and your boss will be working alongside a medical team to provide patient care.
How to Become a Physical Therapy Assistant
Unlike becoming a physical therapy aide, there is no on-the-job training for PTAs. You must go through an accredited associate degree program.
- Get your high school diploma or equivalent.
- Attend a physical therapy program that’s accredited with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. There are over 350 programs across the country.
- Physical therapy assistant programs last two years.
- There will be a brief amount of on-the-job training for your clinical experience.
- Every state will require you to have a license or certification.
- To become certified, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Exam for physical therapist assistants administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.
- You may have to go through a background check, depending on your state.
- You must be a minimum of 18 years of age.
Salary and job outlook
A massive employment growth is predicted for physical therapy assistants. Through 2026 there will be over 27K new positions opening. With one of the largest demographics aging, there is a greater need for physical therapy. Once a treatment plan is in place, very often the physical therapist will allow you to take over the treatment.
The median salary for physical therapist assistants is over $54K. When you’re a newbie, just entering the field, you’ll make more along the lines of $20K. Don’t despair: As you gain experience, your salary grows. By the time you’re midcareer, you’ll be earning over $79K.