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Physical Therapist Assistant

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What Does it Take to Be a Physical Therapist Assistant?

Career Description Assist physical therapists in providing physical therapy treatments and procedures. May, in accordance with State laws, assist in the development of treatment plans, carry out routine functions, document the progress of treatment, and modify specific treatments in accordance with patient status and within the scope of treatment plans established by a physical therapist. Generally requires formal training.

Life As a Physical Therapist Assistant: What Do They Do?

  • Fit patients for orthopedic braces, prostheses, or supportive devices, such as crutches.
  • Administer active or passive manual therapeutic exercises, therapeutic massage, aquatic physical therapy, or heat, light, sound, or electrical modality treatments, such as ultrasound.
  • Clean work area and check and store equipment after treatment.
  • Assist patients to dress, undress, or put on and remove supportive devices, such as braces, splints, or slings.
  • Measure patients' range-of-joint motion, body parts, or vital signs to determine effects of treatments or for patient evaluations.
  • Communicate with or instruct caregivers or family members on patient therapeutic activities or treatment plans.

Skills Needed to be a Physical Therapist Assistant

When polled, Physical Therapist Assistants say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Service Orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

  • Physical Therapy Technician (Physical Therapy Tech)
  • Certified Physical Therapist Assistant (CPTA)
  • Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant (LPTA)
  • Per Diem Physical Therapist Assistant (Per Diem PTA)
  • Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)

Physical Therapist Assistant Job Outlook

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 88,300 jobs in the United States for Physical Therapist Assistant. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 31.1% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 27,500 new jobs for Physical Therapist Assistant by 2026. The BLS estimates 14,700 yearly job openings in this field.

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The states with the most job growth for Physical Therapist Assistant are Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. Watch out if you plan on working in Rhode Island, Kansas, or District of Columbia. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Average Physical Therapist Assistants Salary

Physical Therapist Assistants make between $33,780 and $79,810 a year.

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Physical Therapist Assistants who work in Texas, New Jersey, or Connecticut, make the highest salaries.

How much do Physical Therapist Assistants make in different U.S. states?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $57,410
Alaska $58,950
Arizona $47,050
Arkansas $56,940
California $64,210
Colorado $55,370
Connecticut $65,810
Delaware $56,890
District of Columbia $40,920
Florida $61,650
Georgia $53,840
Hawaii $58,750
Idaho $49,410
Illinois $58,060
Indiana $55,730
Iowa $50,420
Kansas $55,190
Kentucky $54,060
Louisiana $48,300
Maine $52,370
Maryland $54,150
Massachusetts $64,180
Michigan $54,010
Minnesota $53,830
Mississippi $48,130
Missouri $53,150
Montana $46,130
Nebraska $47,240
Nevada $61,000
New Hampshire $58,970
New Jersey $68,000
New Mexico $46,650
New York $52,720
North Carolina $60,190
North Dakota $49,880
Ohio $58,740
Oklahoma $59,950
Oregon $61,990
Pennsylvania $54,100
Rhode Island $63,630
South Carolina $56,880
South Dakota $42,910
Tennessee $56,830
Texas $69,890
Utah $52,830
Vermont $54,610
Virginia $60,110
Washington $58,210
West Virginia $49,830
Wisconsin $52,310
Wyoming $56,520

What Tools do Physical Therapist Assistants Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Physical Therapist Assistants:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Microsoft Access
  • Email software
  • Word processing software
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Spreadsheet software
  • FileMaker Pro
  • Scheduling software
  • Medical condition coding software
  • Billing software
  • Accounting software
  • Bookkeeping software
  • dBASE
  • Laboratory information system LIS
  • SpectraSoft AppointmentsPRO
  • Rehab Documentation Company ReDoc Suite
  • Client caseload management software

How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant

What kind of Physical Therapist Assistant requirements are there?

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How many years of work experience do I need?

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Where Physical Therapist Assistants Work

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The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

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Those who work as a Physical Therapist Assistant sometimes switch careers to one of these choices:

References:

Image Credit: Ryan Conroy via Public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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