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 a GED.
  • 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.

PT Assistant Salary Info

The mean salary for physical therapist assistants in 2023 was around $65,860. When you’re a newbie, just entering the field, you’ll make more along the lines of $42,110. Don’t despair: as you gain experience, your salary will grow. After gaining experience, the top 10% of PT assistants earned $88,830 or more. [BLS]

Salary info updated in April of 2024.