Physical therapist assistants and aides essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $23,880
- 2011, number of jobs: 48,700
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 45 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Associate’s degree
Physical therapist assistants and aides; what they do:
Physical therapist assistants and physical therapist aides work as a team with a physical therapist; all playing important roles in helping patients recover from injury, illness, or surgery.
Physical therapist assistant careers include working directly with patients, providing messages, helping with stretching, and helping them perform exercises designed by a physical therapist to promote healing and health.
A physical therapist assistant career includes keeping records of all patient progress or regression for the physical therapist to review and then alter exercises or treatment as needed. A physical therapy assistant career also includes speaking with patients and their family members about how to properly follow-up treatment.
Physical therapist aides work more on the clerical side of a physical therapy office, setting up therapy areas, cleaning, answering phones, scheduling, working out payments with clients, and handling insurance claims.
Physical therapy aides occasionally work directly with patients, helping them move from one therapy area to another; however, if a physical therapy aide works in a state requiring licensure of physical therapist assistants, then an aide may not perform any tasks involving direct patient care.
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Physical therapist assistants and aides job titles:
- Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA)
- Physical Therapy Technician
- Licensed Physical Therapy Assistant (LPTA)
- Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant (LPTA)
- Traveling Physical Therapist Assistant
- Rehabilitation Aide
- Physical Therapy Aide (PTA)
- PT Aide
- Restorative Aide (RA)
- Physical Therapy Attendant
Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides Education, Certification and License Requirements
People seeking a physical therapist assistant career are required in most states to have an associate’s degree from a physical therapist program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. They must also obtain CPR certification.
A physical therapy assistant desiring a job in administration, management, or education typically needs to continue their education. Many schools offer a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate degree program.
Physical therapy aides generally must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Physical therapist aides receive on-the-job training for a few weeks to a few months.
Physical therapist assistants and aides programs cover subjects such as:
In most states people interested in a physical therapist assistant career need a license. Licensure usually involves graduating from an accredited physical therapist assistant program, passing the National Physical Therapy Exam, and perhaps some state-specific exams or continuing education courses. Physical therapist aides don’t need a license.
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Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides Job Outlook
Forecast: 46 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for physical therapists assistants and a 43 percent employment growth for physical therapist aides; both are much faster than the average for all occupations.
An increasing demand for therapy and rehabilitation services will be needed as a large aging population grows, and as medical advances allowing more trauma victims and babies with defects to survive. These factors increase the demand for physical therapy assistants and physical therapy aides. Their services also help lower the over all costs of providing physical therapy.
Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides Salary
- 2011 median annual wage: $23,880
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $29,000
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $20,130
- Ambulatory health care services
- State, local, and private hospitals
- Nursing and residential care facilities