Explore Career Options, Jobs, Schooling, and Salary for an in Demand Career in Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy Aide

A Physical Therapy Aide has many  duties in a physical therapy setting, much like a physical therapy assistant, they are there to assist and contribute to the physical therapist being more productive. So in your research you may have come across the term physical therapy aide and wondered, What is a physical Therapy Aide? If you have seen the pay scale difference between the 2 careers, you quickly see that even though some of the job descriptions can be quite the same, there are large differences between the 2 careers. The primary difference comes down to the educational and license requirement differences between the 2 careers.

Difference between an Aide and an Assistant

As mentioned above, a large gap exists between a Physical Therapy Aide and a Physical Therapy Assistant with regards to some of the fundamental requirements to be employed in the career. The main one would be the education required, and the licenses required to work in the profession. To understand the difference between the 2 professions, you first need to understand the difference in their basic duties.

A physical therapy aide essentially learns on the job from the physical therapist in charge. Aides are often delegated duties such as keeping the treatment area clean, and well prepared for the next patient the physical therapists will see. They may also assist patients getting prepared for the treatment they are about to receive. They may also do clerical tasks, general cleaning, transportation of patients to the treatment rooms, stocking items, and will even assist with the maintenance of patient records. Because they are not licensed health professionals they do preform any clinical tasks that a Physical Therapist or Physical Therapist Assistant would have as part of their job description.

physical therapy assistant jobs often require less supervision, as the physical therapist assistant has received a higher level of education, and has practical and educational training in therapeutic rehabilitation and exercise. A physical threapy assistant directly contributes to the rehabilitation procedures taking place in a rehabilitation setting. They teach exercises to, and monitor progress of patients, perform manual massage techniques, keep accurate medical records of treatments, and apply modalities such as ultrasound and electric current treatments to patients. A physical therapy assistant is essentially supervised by a physical therapist. In other words a physical therapy assistant has the ability to do lots of work independently, but are working under the direct supervision of a more qualified individual.

A physical therapy assistant must complete 2 years of full time education, earn an associate degree, and pass a state license exam to gain eligibility for employment. Let’s look at the qualifications that are required to be a Physical Therapy Aide as well as the training, education, and wages they commonly receive.

Do I need Physical Therapy Aide License?

unlike a Physical Therapy Assistant, licensing is not required to practice as a physical therapy aide.

Education and training: Employers generally require physical therapy aides to have a high school diploma, and a personal interest in the physical therapy industry. They are trained on the job,  most new employers will give them training for physical therapy aide, which will be purely gained on the job. As where a physical therapist assistant program will require a 2 year associate degree at one of the many accredited physical therapy assistant schools in the nation. Although there are many schools now both community college and online that are offering courses for physical therapy aide. Although such a course is not a requirement, it can allow an easier entry into the career than those with no experience or education in this topic.

Advancement: physical therapist aides can work while they attempt advancement to become therapist assistants after they have gained enrollment in an accredited physical therapy assistant associates degree program. Their previous connections with working in a physical therapy setting will be beneficial to their job search and increased salary once the degree is completed.

Physical Therapy Aide Salary


The average wages for a physical therapy aide is 24,000 annually. This is a little greater than 50% of what a PTA makes annually. The highest paid physical therapy aides earn around 33,000 annually. the averages generally go from 19,000 to 29,000 dollars though depending on work setting, experience and a number of other factors. It is definitely recommended that a physical therapy aide upgrades to a physical therapy assistant. It will bring much greater financial freedom, as well as having a much more marketable skill as a licensed professional health care worker.

The benefits of being a physical therapy aide are simply that it gives one a foot in the door to the rehabilitation industry. For many without the financial means to go to college to earn an associates degree as a physical therapy assistant, it can be a perfect starting point to gain practical clinical experience, and an income while working with physical therapist assistants as a physical therapy aide.