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Physical Therapist Assistants And Aides Career

Career Description

Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides help physical therapists to provide treatment that improves patient mobility, relieves pain, and prevents or lessens physical disabilities of patients.

Common Work Tasks

  • Gather and prepare therapy equipment
  • Record the patient’s responses to treatment and report the outcome of each treatment to the physical therapist
  • Keep the treatment area clean and organized and prepare for each patient’s therapy
  • Push patients in a wheelchair or provide them with a shoulder to lean on
  • Order depleted supplies, answer the phone, and fill out insurance forms and other paperwork.
  • Instruct, motivate, safeguard and assist patients as they practice exercises and functional activities
  • Confer with physical therapy staff or others to discuss and evaluate patient information for planning, modifying, and coordinating treatment
  • Measure patients’ range-of-joint motion, body parts, and vital signs to determine effects of treatments or for patient evaluations
  • Clean and organize work area and disinfect equipment after treatment
  • Observe patients during treatment to compile and evaluate data on patients’ responses and progress, and report to physical therapist

Other Job Titles

Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides are also known by other titles, including:

  • Medical Assistants
  • Physician Assistants
  • Hospital Attendants
  • Nursing Aides

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
Employers typically require physical therapist aides to have a high school diploma. They are trained on the job, and most employers provide clinical on-the-job training.

In many States, physical therapist assistants are required by law to hold at least an associate degree.  According to the American Physical Therapy Association, there were 233 accredited physical therapist assistant programs in the United States as of 2006. Accredited programs usually last 2 years, or 4 semesters, and culminate in an associate degree.

Certification and Licensure
Licensing is not required to practice as a physical therapist aide. However, some States require licensure or registration in order to work as a physical therapist assistant. States that require licensure stipulate specific educational and examination criteria. Additional requirements may include certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other first aid and a minimum number of hours of clinical experience. Complete information on regulations can be obtained from State licensing boards.

  Physical therapist assistants and aides should be well-organized, detail oriented, and caring.  They usually have strong interpersonal skills and a desire to help people in need.


The median annual salary for Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides is $44,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $61,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $28,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of physical therapist assistants and aides are:

  • Offices of Other Health Practitioners - $43,490
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals - $43,120
  • Nursing Care Facilities- $47,910
  • Home Health Care Services - $52,940
  • Offices of Physicians - $39,610

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  29%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 31,000
  • Employment 2006 : 107,000
  • Employment 2016:  137,000
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