What is a Physical Therapist Assistant?
A physical therapy assistant also known as a PTA has the main attribution to help another specialist such as a physical therapist in the daily and basic work duties. He will help the physical therapist with the procedures and treatments that are present in the physical therapy process.
According to the state laws where one of these professionals work he may contribute in many ways even assisting to develop a patient treatment plans, fulfill routine functions, record the patient’s progress. He can also modify those specific treatments that need intervention in the status of a patient and within the purposes of the treatment plans that were established by the physical therapist. This parts will require some formal training.
Job description of a Physical Therapy Assistant
Each and every physical therapy assistant has its job duties and tasks to fulfill at the working place. As a physical therapy assistant, you’ll perform duties that might involve taking inventory, answering phone calls, ordering required supplies, filling out forms and taking messages. Except these clerical parts that come with a daily job, a PTA will have to assist the patients while they practice their exercises. Patients also need assistance with the functional activities by instructing them, motivate them to continue and protect them not to get hurt.
For the respiratory conditions that might come into the discussion or the cases where patients have these conditions, these professionals will have to teach the necessary breathing techniques and exercises that will help their patients.
They will also perform percussion, postural drainage, vibrations, and they will relieve the patients’ back and neck pain through the traction equipment. Their mission will not end here they will have to keep a cleaned and a prepared treatment area and as well prepare the electrotherapy equipment for use by physiotherapists. They will have to operate as a team with other specialists in modifying, planning the treatment by evaluating each patient information.
They will report the patient’s progress and response to the treatment to the physician therapist as well the fact that they will observe patient’s body reactions to the treatments and the vital signs of the bodies. These things are done for the patient evaluation and for observing the treatment plan.
But their work is also based on the mastered skills and the knowledge they have in taking the right decisions in many cases. As healthcare professionals, they must be active listeners by having their full attention set towards the patient and not interrupting when it’s not appropriate. The must also ask questions for a better understanding, being able to read some related work documents that don’t have their handwriting. PTAs should also possess critical thinking when you have to discover and use a proper approach to a problem and many other skills that will make their work with patients and other specialists a lot easier.
How to become a Physical Therapy Assistant?
In order to become a PTA or a physical therapist assistant, you’ll need to complete a training program that will get you an Associate’s Degree in PTA. You must as well pass the national license exam that will vary according to each state.
You’ll have the right to practice, and you’ll become a specialist in treatment plans, exercises, and various aid modalities. Also, you’ll be the one to provide excellent services to the patients with the understanding of what they are doing when they work with you and why they have to go through all these procedures.
The first action in this career is to make sure to have your high school degree or just take the GED (the General Educational Development) equivalent test. Your main interests should focus on subjects that will help you later on in this job such as in science, biology, physics and of course anatomy. You can consider an enrolling in a summer internship.
When you apply for a training program at a school, make sure you’ve found one that will suit you the most. It is important that the training program has accreditation by the CAPTE or also known as The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.
The CAPTE will allow you to have an accredited Physical Therapist Assistant degree. The length of the courses is usually two years or 5 semesters in which you’ll study subjects that comprise pathology. You also learn medical terminology that is very important when you work in this environment, anatomy, kinesiology, assistance techniques and exercises based on therapy. Your classes will be a mix of laboratory, clinical background as well as the classroom experience, so you’ll have loads of chances to improve necessary skills.
Your clinical experience will be made and built under the surveillance of a licensed physical therapist, and you’ll complete it in approximately 16 weeks, more or less based on the program in which you’ve enrolled.
You can determine the state, in which you want to gain license, by giving an exam or by attending to the National Physical Therapy exam. The only states, which don’t require a license are Colorado and Hawaii. By getting a national PTA certification, you’ll open the roads for sub-specialty, and you have a bonus in your resume. A national certification is given by the American Physical Therapy Association or else known as APTA.
As a Physical Therapy Assistant, you’ll need experience in the field, and you can easily inform yourself by using online resources. Alternatively, you can just ask in hospitals, physician’s offices, homes for elderly or any other facilities that will hire Physical Therapy Assistants. You’ll need as well some educational credits each year in order to maintain your certification. You can obtain those by participating in physical therapy conferences or by enrolling in some local classes that will allow you the necessary credits.
You can vary your work opportunities with a specialty in the field after at least four years or more of experience in the physical therapy setting. You will find the specialization in pediatric or in neuro-muscular or even in cardiovascular this depending on your dreams and what will suit you the most.
Work Environment and Schedule
Many of the physical therapy assistants work in the area of the hospital, or they own their own business like a private physical therapy practices. Others will prefer to work in home health, schools, or even rehab units. You can also find these specialists working in outpatient facilities, or in nursing units.
Less than half of the PTA’s work part-time while other will work from Monday to Friday and their working hours will vary according to the setting in which they work. For instance, many hospitals and skilled nurse facilities will not put you to work in every weekend. Still, if you are working in an outpatient physical therapy office, then you’ll probably have to work evenings or weekends in order to adjust to the patient’s schedule.
This job is very demanding in the physical area due to job tasks where you’ll have to walk a lot, kneel, lift, crouch, and stand on your feet for a long period. You’ll also have to move heavy equipment or lift patients, or even help them adjust the position required or just turn, walk or stand.
Pros and Cons of being a Physical Therapy Assistant
The pros in this career are related with the help that you give to a person that has all these disabilities in walking and many more. This job is very rewarding in this compartment to be able to advise many people to improve their walking or their mobility and at the same time, make that pain go away.
If your interest can match health and fitness, then this job has a variety in this field, and you’ll never get bored. Over the long term, there are great opportunities and there are many settings in which you can work, so you have where to pick from.
The educational requirements are very low you can enter in this business only by possessing a two-year Associate’s Degree and some additional training on the job for clinical experience. The training period for a physical therapy assistant is shorter compared to other specialists that they have their training period longer such of a physical therapist.
Compared with the low educational requirements that one of these specialist needs to fulfill, the salary of a PTA is even higher above the average salaries. Such a salary reaches about $51,010 per year with the highest earnings reaching $71,205 per year. The highest earnings can be spotted in work areas like in the scientific and technical consulting services or the management industry. In these areas, the salary of a physical therapy assistant can reach $75,682 per year with an hourly wage of $36.39 per hour.
The con is that you’ll have to work night shifts or weekends to meet with patients. Also, this job will require a lot of standing during the day and moving all the time in order to be able to fulfill all of your daily tasks. With other words, this job can indeed get very demanding and with it the factor of stress can increase in some situations very easily.
Working with people is not always pleasant so you’ll have to gather many skills in order to face various reactions from the patients and even negative attitude. Many of them can be really confused with everything and everyone, they might experience severe pain, or be often angry and react badly to various procedures. So, what you’ll need to do in those kinds of situations involves keeping it calm and become supportive. Support is given mainly by letting them know that you are there to assist them and not provoke any more damages than what they have already.
By doing this, you’ll start even to gain their trust and become a reliable person for their lives, and as well you’ll be able to perform an effective treatment. You will require to have strength to be able to move equipment or just to set them up. Strength is also needed to help patients move or lift or other things that will require from your side to be well balanced and fit so that you could perform better this job.
Physical Therapy Assistant job growth
The job for these professionals seems to be highly satisfactory. In the US, the healthcare sector is one with a fastest growing parts of the economy of this country. The number of demanding is very high even for those working in the field of physical therapy. There are varied job opportunities for skilled healthcare professionals in all 50 states.
The main factor that impacts this field are the huge number of demanding for these professionals. The increase in the elderly population and not only, leads more and more Americans to have an active way of life, this leading to an awaken sense for physical fitness and the effects of rehabilitation that physical therapy brings to the patients in need.
There are also many professional athletes or amateurs that hire physical therapy assistants in order to enhance their performances. Physical therapy is also used in treating various patients who suffer from sports related injuries. The employment job growth for physical therapy assistants, for the next five to ten years, has a projection of around 45% increase or even higher, according to the BLS, or else known as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Physical Therapist Assistant Salary
In the US, the physical therapy assistant salary ranges from $35,826 per year up to $70,153 per year. For a beginner, the salary in this field is estimated at around $36,010 but it will gradually increase due to the work experience and other factors that will influence your income. For a five year PTA, the earning can be estimated at $62,862 per year due to the experience.
The median salary in the US reaches $51,015 per year while the average salary for a physical therapist assistant will be around S50, 645 per year. Like in any other job, the income of these specialists is also influenced according to the state.
The top paying state for this job is New York, where an income will range from $32,128 up to $55,236 per year. In Arizona, wages are from $30,398 per year and up to $72,722 per year. Other locations to list are Florida, Illinois, Texas, and Pennsylvania.
The cities, in which you work as a physical therapy assistant will have a variety of settings, and the earnings will vary as well. For example, in Huston, Texas the salaries of these specialists will range from $39,306 per year and up to $50,869 per year. The hourly wage is from $17.98 to $26.09 per hour. In Florida, the salaries might range from $40,715 per year and up to $58,510 per year with an hourly wage that will range from $7.47 up to $32.23 per hour.
Salary of a Physical Therapy Assistant in 2015
As a PTA, the outcome is very good; you’ve got these many job opportunities. You also have a variety of settings from which you can choose and a huge number of demanding especially in the number of the elderly. The figures are starting to grow and this job perspective is stable.
For 2015, the salary of a physical therapy assistant is mainly influenced by the years of experience in the field, the geographical location and the specialty in which you are working. With greater education comes knowledge and more job opportunities to prove that you are remarkably good at what you are doing.
As a physical therapy assistant, your annual income is estimated to reach $70,892 per year more or less while the median income reaches about $51,015 per year.
Physical Therapy Assistant Salary in 2016
The average wage that a physical therapy assistant earns, in the US, for the year 2016 is estimated at $24.56 per hour. Long term care skills are associated in this branch with a high paying income. The median salary for these professionals usually reaches to $45,027 per year, according to the salary data information offered by PayScale.
The starting point in the earnings of a physical therapy assistant varies from $29,803 and goes up to $60,863. The usual bonus that is granted in this field is estimated at $1,656 while the profit sharing gets around $226, this leading in the end after all these benefits added to established incomes that vary from $31,862 and up to $67,489.
After the PayScale survey, more than half of those working as physical therapy assistants are female rather than male. The factors that usually impact these professionals in their earnings are the demographic factor-geographical location, years of experience in the field, type of employment, as well as the company size and the industry in which one individual has found work.
When it comes to the years of experience in the field, the incomes are different, and the payment offered usually varies. For an entry-level physical therapy assistant, with less than five years of activity and experience, the income reaches somewhere at $45,010 per year. Those who work in this field for five and up to ten years can expect to take home around $52,010, while those with a vast experience, with 10 and up to 20 years receive around $55,010.
At this point, the income between those with up to ten years and those who work up to 20 years is different only with $3,000 that is not that much. The veterans in this field, with more than 20 years can expect to take home around $60,010 per year.
Salary of a Physical Therapy Assistant in Canada, Australia and UK
The yearly income for a Physical Therapy Assistant ranges in Canada from C$24,107 up to C$42,265 while the median salary of these specialists will go around C$31,167 per year. The granted yearly bonus will rise to C$200.09. The hourly wage ranges from C$11.81 and up to C$20.68 per hour.
In the UK, the starting salary in this field will range between £13,605 and £16,605 per year but with the job experience developing a Physical Therapy, Assistant salary can go up to £21,810 per year.
In Australia, the hourly wage in the salary of a Physical Therapy Assistant ranges from AU$17.56 up to AU$24.68 with an average salary that will range from AU$35.494 up to AU$51.232 per year.
Conclusion on the Physical Therapy Assistant Salary
The medical field for this career has a lot of good perspectives and with vast job openings. This career is very searched, and many are in demanding especially those who got hurt in car racks, the elderly population and many other that are in need for these specialists help.
The economic flux will vary greatly due to the top paying cities or states, due to the metropolitan areas or the employer, the type of work and the location in which you are.
I mean you can find states with the highest earnings and lowest earnings all across the US as well with varied educational requirements that will need to be fulfilled according to each state.
- First Published Date: 16 January, 2015
- Last Updated Date: 12 December, 2016