Physical therapist assistants work in hospitals, physical therapist offices, nursing care facilities, medical centers and occupational therapist officers around the country. Under the supervision of physical therapists, they assist patients in their recovery from a variety of injuries and sicknesses. As part of each patient's recovery, the physical therapy assistant helps the patient regain movement at their own pace as well as become better at managing pain.
The most common job duties of a physical therapist assistant may include:
Implementing the policies of the facility's physical therapy department
Observing patients before physical therapy and taking notes
Monitoring patients during physical therapy
Tracking the progress of each patient that they observe
Reporting each patient's status and records to the physical therapist
Managing patient records
Administering physical therapy modalities while a physical therapist supervises
Performing clerical tasks to help the physical therapy department
Participating in ongoing training at the facility
Following the treatment plans that have been designed by the physical therapist
Speaking with patients and maintaining an upbeat, professional relationship with them
Communicating professionally with medical professionals and co-workers
Educating the patient about what to do after the treatment
Physical therapist assistants need to have a great deal of patience. They need to possess carefully honed people skills as they will be dealing with sometimes demanding patience under the close supervision of a physical therapist. Those who are detail-oriented and compassionate will likely thrive in this position.
Physical therapist assistants need to have an associate's degree in nearly all states, and that degree should be from a program that's accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Additionally, they will need to be at least 18 and have a criminal background check. They also must be certified or licensed, which requires the candidate to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam.
The exact requirements do vary from state to state, though, so it's important to check with the state where you plan to practice as a physical therapist assistant. If you want to obtain higher education, you may also be interested in perusing physical therapist jobs and medical practice manager jobs.
Physical Therapist Assistant Job Market
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be a whopping 41 percent job growth in physical therapist assistant jobs between 2012 and 2022. That's far greater than most other occupations. This means that there will likely be a great deal of available physical therapist assistant jobs available in the future, and there should be a good amount of job security in the profession as well.
Physical Therapist Assistant Job Salary Information
Physical therapist assistants earned an average annual salary of approximately $52,160. The highest-earned 10 percent of physical therapist assistants earned over $72,000 in 2012, while those who were in the lowest 10 percent of earners made under $32,420 per year. On-the-job experience, education, and location are all factors into how much candidates may be able to earn.