Exploring A Physical Therapy Assistant Career

Mar 15 | , , , ,


If you’re looking for a career that allows you to help people rehabilitate from injuries or health problems, becoming a physical therapy assistant could be right up your alley. The position offers good pay, an interesting education and daily interaction with patients. If this career sounds appealing to you, here are some specifics:

The duties
As a PTA, your role will be to help the physical therapist provide the best level of care to meet a patient’s needs. The PT will assess a client, develop a plan of treatment and oftentimes allow a PTA to take control over certain aspects of the method, under the PT’s supervision. PTAs can alter a treatment plan for the betterment of the patient, but with the approval of the PT. The training regimen can be extended to individuals of all ages, from children to senior citizens.

The education
Many students are obligated to complete a two-year curriculum that results in an associate degree from an accredited physical therapy program. The length of time it takes to complete this education depends on the state in which the course is taught. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, 75 percent of a student’s time is spent in lab or classroom study, while the other 25 percent is completed in clinical practice.

Typically, five semesters are spent taking courses including exercise physiology, anatomy & physiology, kinesiology and behavioral sciences, among others.

After graduation from a CAPTE-accredited program (CAPTE is the only recognized PTA accrediting agency), PTAs must sit for the license exam to practice. Only Colorado and Hawaii allow graduates to practice without certification.

A physical therapy assistant can work in diverse locations.

The salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a physical therapy assistant in May 2014 was around $54,000. The yearly salary can often depend on the state. California, Florida, Texas, Ohio and Alaska, among nine others, were the states with the highest annual wages in May 2014 for PTAs.

The BLS also found the profession is expected to grow 35 percent between 2008 and 2018. This is due to the aging population and increasing demand for PTAs.

The work setting
One of the luxuries of being a PTA is the various environments the assistants can work in. Depending on where you’re needed, your weekly work location could change. From acute to subacute hospital care to schools to home health, PTAs can often choose what locale suits them best and the type of patients they tend to work most successfully with. While the most common setting people know is in a sports rehabilitation clinic, PTAs can also be found in hospice care and occupational environments, among others.

Variety is just one of the perks of becoming a PTA. In addition to typical workday hours, PTAs get to work with a collection of interesting patients, with different injuries and in diverse locations. Although the education can be somewhat challenging, the reward of being able to help a patient re-acclimate to normal life is often worth the difficulty.


This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers Inc. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.