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

Physical Therapy Assistant Careers – A Detailed Career Guide

Physical Therapy Assistant CareersYou want to learn more about physical therapy assistant careers, as you are considering this career option. A physical therapy assistant performs their daily duties using the same skill set, but in a number of different healthcare industries. Entry level physical therapy assistants tend to earn about 60-75% of what an experienced individual in the profession can earn. Moving up in this career may involve changing employment into different industries. Below are the top 9 industries we find physical therapy assistants employed, with roughly 65% of all those employed in this career, working in the first 2.

    • Offices of Other Health Practitioners
    • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
    • Nursing Care Facilities
    • Home health Care Services
    • Offices of Physicians
    • Speciality Hospitals
    • Employment Services
    • Community Care Facilities for Elderly
    • Management Companies

Physical therapy assistants work under the supervision of physical therapist. They perform a variety of treatments by themselves and alongside therapists. Some of the main treatments that an assistant usually performs include massage, exercise, mechanical traction and electric stimulation. Assistants may perform ultrasound testing and treatment as well. In many cases, they are responsible for instructing patients how to take care of themselves at home.

Now you can select from a wide variety of physical therapy assistant careers. The employment of such professionals is expected to increase by over 30% between the years of 2008 to 2018. This means that your chances of finding a well-paid job are considerably higher. In general, employment is projected to increase across all industries.

You will be able to choose whether to work in a therapist’s office in a physician’s office or in a general medical and surgical hospital. Finding employment in a nursing health care facility or in a private practice offering exclusively home health care services will be more difficult, given that the number of jobs in these industries is lower. Still, you may be able to secure such a position, which is generally better paid, after gaining some on the job experience.

According to the most recent official statistical data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2009, the mean hourly wage of a physical therapy assistant is $23.36 while the mean annual salary is $48,950. Remuneration is projected to grow as in line with the growth in demand for such professionals.

In order to be able to choose from the different physical therapy assistant careers, you need to earn an associate’s degree in this discipline first. A standard program takes two years to complete and includes both academic coursework and clinical practice. After you have earned your degree, you need to register with or obtain license from your state’s Board of Physical Therapy, so that you can practice your profession.

There are different options for advancement in physical therapy assistant careers. You can get training and obtain additional skills in your profession in different areas, such as pediatric, cardiopulmonary and musculoskeletal physical therapy. The American Physical Therapy Association recognizes such specializations officially. Such a specialization will give you the opportunity to find a better paid position, or at the very most you can become a more in demand assistant.  There is no continued education required for this career, although physical therapy assistants are able to attend workshops presented by the American Physical Therapy Association, as well as other courses and seminars which may enhance career opportunities. Those who continue to study often show initiative that is well respected by employers.

Teaching careers may also be an option for those who have worked in the industry for a while. With over 270 physical therapy assistant schools in the United States, there is definitely the opportunity for those who have had experienced physical therapy assistant careers to move into a whole new industry of work. The popularity of these options is expected to grow with increase in the number of students who want to pursue such a career. As an assistant, you will be able to advance to higher administrative positions as well. Such professionals can secure jobs in hospital and nursing care facility administrations, in particular.