Physical Therapy Assistant Career Path


What Are The Career Advancement Opportunities For Physical Therapy Assistants

How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA): College, NPTE and More!

Upon completion of an accredited physical therapy assistant program, graduates are eligible for licensure. Educational programs may also offer opportunities to gain clinical experience and leadership skills, which can help advance career options.

Some physical therapists choose to specialize in a particular area of rehabilitation or focus on treating certain types of patients or injuries. This might require additional training or continuing education courses that lead to specialization in a particular area of the field.

For example, a person interested in working with older adults might earn a postgraduate certificate in geriatric physical therapy from an accredited program. Those who wish to work with children may pursue a pediatric physical therapy assistant specialization or graduate degree.

Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant Education And Training

Like other PTA careers, home health physical therapist assistants need to complete an associates degree from an accredited PTA program and pass the NPTE exam. Many of the best home health physical therapist assistant jobs prefer PTAs with advanced training under their belts, which can be completed through the APTA and other certifying organizations. For example, home health PTAs working with stroke patients may consider specializing in neurology. PTAs who want to help patients recover from severe accidents may seek out additional orthopedic training.

Physical Therapist Assistants Fulfill An Important Role In Preventive And Rehabilitative Patient Care

PTAs work with licensed physical therapists to provide treatment for physical injury or disability. Treatments include application of heat, cold, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and massage, as well as training in therapeutic exercise and functional activities.

The PTA program prepares students to work in a variety of settings including:

Extended care facilities
Schools and other pediatric facilities
Outpatient clinics Sports medicine clinics

Graduates of Whatcom’s PTA program can expect to be hired within one to three months after licensure. Full-time employment is often more quickly found outside of Whatcom County.

Physical therapist assistant

1Starting wages are generally lower.

*Washington State Employment Security Department, August 2019 **Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Physical Therapist Assistant Salary Pt Aide Salary

Median annual salary was $48,290 in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , and the occupation is expected to grow at a rate of 35%, which is much higher than the average occupational growth projection. Part of this is increased coverage by insurance companies, and part is also due to the growing elderly population and aging baby boomer population, as older citizens make up a large part of therapy needs. Demand will be even higher in rural areas, as physical therapists tend to gravitate toward more urban areas and there is therefore less demand there.

What Is The Difference Between A Physical Therapist And A Physical Therapist Assistant

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All PT programs in the U.S. require students to earn a Doctorate degree All PTA programs in the U.S. are at the associate degree level
PT programs generally require a bachelors degree PTA programs require a high school diploma
up to 8 years
PTs perform patient/client evaluations and set up treatment plans. PTAs do not perform evaluations and there are certain skills that are considered PT only. PTAs work under the direction and supervision of a PT.

Contact us today to discuss your career path in the physical therapy profession.

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A Career Of A Lifetime Is Waiting For You

Your future is waiting for you! Whether youre a PTA or PT, you can take your career a step further by adding professional med traveler to your resume. The best part about being a traveling physical therapy professional is that you dont have to wait after graduation to start your first travel adventure.

Even better, though, is Fusion Medical Staffings Mentorship Program that helps you transition into your first couple therapy travel assignments smoothly and with ease. Through this elite program, new travelers are paired with mentors who show you the ropes on what it takes to be a Fusion traveler.

Hop from location to location as a Fusion traveler and offer your personal assistance to a wide variety of patients across the U.S. With your help to examine, diagnose, and treat ailments, more individuals will lead their best physical lives because of you. And if that doesnt make your heart grow three sizes, then I dont know what will, ya Grinch.

Dont stand in the way of your own professional happiness and success. Begin your career as a professional therapy traveler A$AP, Rocky!

What Is A Physical Therapy Aide

A physical therapy aide is a physical therapy support team member who performs non-medical tasks to care for patients going through PT. Under the guidance and supervision of a physical therapist and a physical therapist assistant, they may be responsible for:

  • Escorting and transporting patients to and from treatment rooms

  • Cleaning treatment rooms before and after appointments

  • Organizing tools, equipment and other items in the treatment room

  • Preparing non-medical treatment tools, such as heating pads or ice packs

  • Observing and documenting patients before, during and after treatment

  • Reporting observations and changes in patient behavior or wellness to PTs

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The Entry Level: Certification Training And Degree

To become a Physical Therapy Assistant, you must receive an Associates degree from a Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education or CAPTE accredited program. You must also complete sixteen weeks of onsite clinical education experience once finished, you are eligible to take the state-administered national exam. You may take the Physical Therapy Assistant Advanced Proficiency Pathways Program upon passing the exam, but this is not required. You will be required, however, to take continuing education courses to maintain your state certification.

Where Do Womens Health Physical Therapist Assistants Work

Physical Therapist Assistant Program – Heartland Community College

Womens health PTAs may work in specialized womens health clinics, general physical therapy clinics located within hospitals, or walk-in clinics. Like other physical therapist assistants, PTAs specializes in womens health work under the direction of a licensed physical therapist. While women tend to experience more pelvic issues than men, some womens health PTAs specializing in pelvic floor treatment may also care for male patients having pelvic problems due to surgery, trauma, or other illnesses.

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Pta Vs Pt Round No : Perks For Physical Therapy Professionals

Remember those fun OxiClean commercials back in the day with Billy Mays, and hed always say, But wait, theres more!? Yes? Okay, great. Because wait! Theres more!

As if helping people wasnt rewarding enough, a career in physical therapy offers even more perks for professionals in the field. In the Venn diagram of PTA and PT, the overlapping personal and career advantages include:

  • The glorious satisfaction of improving the lives of others
  • Diverse job opportunities with an estimated 47,000 physical therapy jobs to open up by 2029
  • The chance to take your career on the road as a professional traveler

Now, more specifically, the pros exclusive to PTAs are:

  • The opportunity to practice active, meaningful, hands-on work
  • Interacting with a variety of clients through diverse exercises and therapy techniques
  • Seeing the progress patients make over time
  • Less school to complete, which also means fewer student loans

Lastly, PTs reap the benefits, too:

  • A chance to earn a higher salary
  • Entrepreneurial and management opportunities
  • Professional coaching to PTAs and other staff

A career as a PTA isnt a steppingstone to becoming a PTits a wildly meaningful and in-demand profession all on its own. Dont believe us? Well, only about 10 percent of PTAs ever pursue their PT licensure, so ha!

Both PTAs and PTs are indispensable to our overall healthcare system, so remember, theres no right path when it comes to what you want to be when you grow up .

What Physical Therapist Assistants And Aides Do About This Section

Physical therapist assistants, sometimes called PTAs, and physical therapist aides work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses to regain movement and manage pain.

Physical therapist assistants are involved in the direct care of patients.

Physical therapist aides often have tasks that are indirectly related to patient care, such as cleaning and setting up the treatment area, moving patients, and doing clerical duties.

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Work Environment About This Section

Physical therapist aides held about 44,200 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of physical therapist aides were as follows:

Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists 61%
Offices of physicians 5

Physical therapist assistants and aides are frequently on their feet and moving as they set up equipment and help and treat patients. Because they must often lift and move patients, they are vulnerable to back injuries. Assistants and aides can limit these risks by using proper techniques when they work with patients.

Faq On Earning Your Physical Therapist Assistant Degree Or Certification

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Getting an education and earning licensure aren’t the only things aspiring physical therapist assistants need to know. Below are five frequently asked questions on how to become a physical therapist assistant.

These board-certified specialists often enlist physical therapy assistants in their duties. Physical therapist assistants skilled in these specialty fields often command higher wages than their peers who lack specialized training.

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What Does A Rehabilitation Physical Therapist Assistant Do

While all forms of physical therapy involve helping patients become healthier and more mobile, rehabilitation physical therapy is explicitly focused on patients living with more serious medical conditions. Rehabilitation physical therapist assistants work primarily with patients who have undergone significant life changes due to disabilities or major illnesses to help them live as independently and comfortably as possible.

Where Do Acute Care Physical Therapist Assistants Work

Acute care PTAs work most commonly in hospitals or critical-care clinicswherever patients are treated for life-threatening incidents. They typically work with hospitalized patients in their rooms or the surrounding hallways. Acute care PTAs may also work at on-site physical therapy facilities to help their supervising physical therapist. At these facilities, acute care PTAs assess patients conditions and guide them through exercises and treatments appropriate for their current physical capabilities.

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Why Is Womens Health A Great Career Path For Physical Therapist Assistants

Because of their intimate and personal nature, many people dont open up about pelvic issues the same way they might with more outwardly visible health conditions. Womens health PTAs play an important role in dismantling healthcare stigmas and provide much-needed relief for patients who often feel limited personally and socially. Womens health physical therapist assistants can be a ray of light for people who assumed theyd have to deal with their health problems for the rest of their lives.

Prerequisites And Required Assessments

Physical Therapy Career Information

Students must complete an application to enter this program. Application requirements include:

  • An overall college GPA of 2.5
  • 4 semester units of Anatomy 4 semester units of Physiology.*Combined GPA of Anatomy and Physiology courses must be at least 2.5.

Once admitted to the program, students will be required to obtain a physical examination by a physician, current immunizations, proof of current driver’s license, proof of current auto insurance, cleared background check and drug screen, CPR certification from American Heart Association . Students must be able to work a 8-10 hour day and 40 hours per week at clinical sites understand and work from written and verbal orders, effective communication skills, technical competency in patient care, assess changes in patient status, bend/ crouch/stoop several times in a hour, lift/carry a minimum of 30 pounds reach overhead above 90 degrees utilize eyesight to observe patients and manipulate equipment.

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Physical Therapist Assistant: Associate In Applied Science


Love making a difference? As a PTA, youll make it your job to help others grow stronger.

Physical Therapist Assistants help individuals of all ages who are ill, injured, or have a health condition that limits the ability to perform daily activities.

Under the supervision of licensed physical therapists, PTAs can work in many different settings. These include: hospitals, outpatient centers, home health, sports/fitness, long-term care, and other facilities. PTAs teach patients exercises for mobility, strength, and coordination, as well as helping clients train for activities such as walking with crutches, canes, or walkers.

What Is A Physical Therapist Assistant

A physical therapy assistant works under the direction of a licensed physical therapist. You will assist the physical therapist in the treatment of patients with injuries or disease to develop, maintain and restore their abilities for daily living activities.

Physical therapy assistants may need to move around heavy equipment, bend over patients who are seated on tables, or pull equipment that is stacked in the lower section of shelves. Physical therapy assistants may be on their feet for long periods of time, especially in larger clinics.

Most physical therapy assistants work full-time weekdays during regular business hours. Overtime is often required to meet deadlines or cover extra shifts.

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Womens Health Physical Therapist Assistant Education And Training

All physical therapist assistants must complete an associates degree from an accredited PTA program, and womens health PTAs are no exception. After passing the NPTE exam and earning their license, womens health physical therapist assistants who want to reach the top of their field may seek advanced certifications like the Pelvic Rehabilitation Practitioner Certification. Before theyre eligible to sit for the PRPC certification exam, PTAs must spend a certain amount of hours being trained and mentored by a physical therapist specializing in pelvic health.

How To Become A Physical Therapy Assistant

9+ Physical Therapist Job Description Templates â Free Sample, Example ...

If you’d rather become a physical therapy assistant, these are the steps to follow:

  • Earn an associate degree. Research and apply to an associate degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Complete your coursework, examinations and clinical practice to earn your degree in two years.

  • Become certified in CPR. While your associate degree program may provide CPR and first aid certification, you may need to pursue it from a local hospital, community organization or emergency services institution, like the fire station, that offers it.

  • Work as a physical therapy aide. While earning your associate degree, consider gaining relevant experience as a physical therapy aide. In this role, you can better learn the practices of PT and network with practicing professionals.

  • Gain licensure to practice in your state. Pass the NPTE in the state you want to practice in and submit your scores and application for licensure. This license allows you to work as a practicing PTA.

  • Maintain your licensure. After earning your license, you must meet your state’s requirements to renew it regularly. You may need to take courses in physical therapy practices, clinical procedures and updated medical technology to keep your knowledge and skills current. How often you need to renew your license and how many hours of continuing education credits you must complete may depend on your state’s board.

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    How To Become A Physical Therapy Aide

    if you’re interested in becoming a physical therapy aide, take the following steps:

  • Earn your high school diploma or GED. These qualifications provide you basic math and communication skills, which can help you in a physical therapy aide role. You must also be 18 years or older to qualify for most positions.

  • Complete the optional professional certificate. Research vocational and technical colleges in your area, and earn a physical therapy aide professional diploma or certificate. This qualification can better prepare you for a role and even reduce your training time, making your more job-ready than other candidates without this program.

  • Take a CPR course. Increase your medical and patient care knowledge by taking a CPR and first aid course. Learn how to properly perform CPR, dress wounds and manage other emergency situations to make you even more job-ready.

  • Submit your resume. Include your education, certification and training on your resume as well as any relevant professional experience in patient care, customer service or administration. Use your resume to apply for physical therapy aide roles in your desired area.

  • Can A Medical Assistant Work As Physical Therapy Assistant

    Medical Assistants and Physical Therapy Assistants both work with patients under the direction of another medical professional, but medical assistants are not trained to work as PTAs. You need to pursue more schooling to change careers. All states require Physical Therapy Assistants to have an associate degree from a community college that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education . Most states also require Physical Therapy Assistants to become licensed. You can obtain a license by passing the National Physical Therapy Exam administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Qualifications vary by state, so check the requirements in your state before applying for PTA positions.

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    Where Do Traveling Physical Therapist Assistants Work

    Traveling physical therapist assistants usually work short-to-medium term contracts at all types of healthcare facilitiesfrom sports-medicine clinics to elder-care or rehabilitation facilities. Often, theyll be employees or contractors of healthcare staffing organizations who facilitate where they work and with which PTs they partner.

    When Do I Know The Results Of My Exam

    Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)

    A copy of the HESI test scores will be given after completion. The Student Assessment Center does not discuss test scores with testers. Students are recommended to discuss all test scores with their particular department of study.

    If you have any further questions or comments, please contact the Student Assessment Center at 956-872-3484.

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