What Is A Physical Therapy Assistant

Physical therapy assistants (PTAs) are health care professionals who help patients with mobility, strength and coordination issues resulting from an accident or illness. PTAs offer assistance to people who are recovering from a debilitating incident, as well as to those who are attempting to prevent or minimize the onset of physical limitations stemming from disorders or diseases.   

Generally, physical therapy assistants provide support to physical therapists (PTs) and often work in an office or hospital environment. Because PTAs spend a lot of time on their feet throughout their day, some consider it a healthier job than those that require sitting at a desk for hours at a time.

The daily duties of a PTA generally include assisting patients with learning new exercises, collecting data on their progress, and helping them use special equipment. These patients span across all ages and can range from newborns to the elderly.

The degree requirements for physical therapy assistants vary from state to state, but in most cases individuals seeking to enter this career path need to hold an associate’s degree awarded by a CAPTE- accredited physical therapy assistant program. These degrees generally take about two years to complete. In most states, graduates must also complete a national licensing/certification/regulation exam before they can begin to work as PTAs.

Becoming a physical therapy assistant is an excellent career choice for people who are looking for fields that will see growth in the near future. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this area is expected to increase because of the growing elderly, diabetic and obese populations.

Because physical therapy assistants get to see their patients grow stronger and regain their independence, many consider this to be a very rewarding job. For those who want to go to work every day knowing they are going to make a difference in someone’s life, a career as a physical therapy assistant may be the perfect fit.

States with the highest employment level in this occupation:



Employment per thousand jobs

Location quotient

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage

California 16600.111.2618.1337720
Florida 11300.141.6817.9737370
Illinois 9600.161.9217.937240
Texas 7600.070.7816.6234570
New York 6500.070.8520.1241840

Source: bls.gov

Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:What is a Physical Therapy Assistant?

A:Physical therapy assistants assist physical therapists in the unique job of helping ill or injured persons improve their medical condition by movement and by managing pain. They typically care for people of all ages who have problems resulting from neck and back injuries, arthritis, amputations, neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, sports or work related injuries and other conditions.

Q:Where can a physical therapist work?

A:A physical therapist is trained professional who helps patients with regaining mobility and managing pain. As of 2012, the industries which employed the most physical therapists were Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists (33%), hospitals (28%), home health care service providers (11%), nursing and residential facilities (7%), and physicians' offices. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

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