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.

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