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Career Profile: Physical Therapist Assistants

Assist physical therapists in providing physical therapy treatments and procedures. May, in accordance with state laws, assist in the development of treatment plans, carry out routine functions, document the progress of treatment, and modify specific treatments in accordance with patient status and within the scope of treatment plans established by a physical therapist. Generally requires formal training.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 93,800 people employed as physical therapist assistants in the United States. The median annual salary is $59,800. Entry level employees earn approximately $33,840 per year and senior employees earn approximately $82,470 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Instruct, motivate, safeguard, and assist patients as they practice exercises or functional activities.
  • Document patient information, such as notes on their progress.
  • Fit patients for orthopedic braces, prostheses, or supportive devices, such as crutches.
  • Perform postural drainage, percussions, or vibrations or teach deep breathing exercises to treat respiratory conditions.
  • Perform clerical duties, such as taking inventory, ordering supplies, answering telephone, taking messages, or filling out forms.
  • Prepare treatment areas and electrotherapy equipment for use by physiotherapists.
  • Administer traction to relieve neck or back pain, using intermittent or static traction equipment.
  • Perform therapeutic wound care.
  • Observe patients during treatments to compile and evaluate data on their responses and progress and provide results to physical therapist in person or through progress notes.
  • Instruct patients in proper body mechanics and in ways to improve functional mobility, such as aquatic exercise.
  • Secure patients into or onto therapy equipment.
  • Confer with physical therapy staff or others to discuss and evaluate patient information for planning, modifying, or coordinating treatment.
  • Administer active or passive manual therapeutic exercises, therapeutic massage, aquatic physical therapy, or heat, light, sound, or electrical modality treatments, such as ultrasound.
  • Transport patients to and from treatment areas, lifting and transferring them according to positioning requirements.
  • Clean work area and check and store equipment after treatment.
  • Communicate with or instruct caregivers or family members on patient therapeutic activities or treatment plans.
  • Measure patients' range-of-joint motion, body parts, or vital signs to determine effects of treatments or for patient evaluations.
  • Train patients in the use of orthopedic braces, prostheses, or supportive devices.
  • Monitor operation of equipment and record use of equipment and administration of treatment.
  • Assist patients to dress, undress, or put on and remove supportive devices, such as braces, splints, or slings.
  • Attend or conduct continuing education courses, seminars, or in-service activities.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
93,800
Annual Openings:
16,400
Increase in Openings by 2030:
35%
Annual Salary Range:
$33,840 - $82,470
Education Requirements:
Associate's degree