Physical Therapist Assistant
What They Do:
Physical therapy assistants (PTAs) aid physical therapists in helping patients with movement difficulties caused by injury or disease. They do everything from cleaning therapy spaces to recording accurate data on patient progress, teaching proper exercise techniques and showing patients how to use crutches or canes.
Many PTA programs offer two-year associate degrees, but students must graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education to be eligible for the licensure exam required by most states. About a quarter of that education should be in a clinical environment, and that’s where the job hunt should start, experts say. A considerable amount of additional education is required to transition into a physical therapist career.
What They Make:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2019 median income was 48,990 per year.
Where They Work:
Home health agencies
Outpatient physical therapy clinics
Sports and fitness facilities
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapist assistants and aides is projected to grow 29% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for physical therapy services is expected to increase in response to the healthcare needs of an older population and individuals with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapist-assistants-and-aides.htm (visited February 2021).
Updated February 2021