Have you ever wondered what a physical therapist assistant does? Physical therapist assistants enjoy many facets of their role that require understanding and attention to detail. It’s essential to understand what the physical therapist assistant does and what is expected in the occupational outlook handbook.
The Physical Therapist Assistant Occupational Outlook Handbook is a comprehensive overview of the most critical data you need to help you develop a career plan. In it, you’ll find aggregate employment and income data, job details; projections; and much more.
Work Environment for Physical Therapist Assistants
The work environment for a physical therapist assistant is highly collaborative. Because the job involves assisting a physical therapist, you’ll spend a lot of time working alongside them as they help their patients recover from injuries and ailments.
The physical therapist assistant typically works in an office setting with other team members, including the physical therapist, who will instruct you on what to do and when to do it. You’ll also be working with patients who are dealing with a variety of medical issues, so you’ll need to be able to communicate well with them to understand their needs and concerns.
Because this position requires so much hands-on work, it’s vital that you like being physically active. You will be on your feet most of the day, helping patients move or engage in exercises that will help them heal more quickly.
How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant
Becoming a physical therapist assistant is a rewarding career path that allows you to help people every day. If you’re interested in becoming a physical therapist assistant, here are some steps you can take to get started:
- Get an education. You’ll need an associate degree to become a physical therapist assistant. Some schools offer certificates of completion or diplomas; check with your admissions department for more information.
- Get licensed by the state where you plan to work as a physical therapist assistant (if required). You’ll need to pass both written and clinical exams before applying for your license. Contact your state’s occupational therapy board for more information about licensure requirements in your area.
- If possible, join professional organizations like the American Physical Therapy Association or the National Association of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists. This will give you access to networking opportunities and conferences. Also seminars, job listings and other resources that will help advance your career as a physical therapist assistant
Education and Training for Physical Therapist Assistants
The education and training for physical therapist assistants is rigorous and comprehensive. The first step is to complete an associate’s degree in physical therapy.
After completing your associate’s degree, you will need to complete a clinical internship where you work under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist or occupational therapist. You will be able to gain valuable hands-on experience as well as observe how these professionals interact with their patients. This experience will help you decide if this line of work is right for you and give you an idea of what it will be like working with patients daily.
Certifications and Licenses for Physical Therapist Assistants
Some many certifications and licenses are available to Physical Therapist Assistants. These certifications and licenses will allow you to work in your field more easily, as they provide proof that you have the education and experience necessary to practice in your state.
The National Physical Therapy Assistant Assessment Program (NPTAAP) is the most common certification. This program requires all PTAs to complete an online exam in order to be certified by their state board as a PTA. The NPTAAP exam covers professional ethics, communication skills, medical terminology, drug calculations, and patient handling.
Another certification often required by employers is the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) credential from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). This credential requires PTAs to pass an exam on their knowledge of occupational therapy principles and practices. While not required by all states, some employers may require COTA certification for employment or promotion opportunities within a facility.
In addition to these certifications and licenses, many states require physical therapist assistants to obtain a license before they can practice in their state. This license must be renewed periodically based on continuing education requirements set forth by each state’s licensing board.
Career Advancement for Physical Therapist Assistants
Career advancement for physical therapist assistants is a tricky thing. A PTA will likely start out as an assistant to a physical therapist. But they may also have the opportunity to become a supervisor of other PTAs.
Job Outlook for Physical Therapist Assistants
The job outlook for physical therapist assistants is great, with a projected growth rate of 30% from 2022 to 2026.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of physical therapist assistant jobs will increase by about 80,000 new jobs by 2022.
Physical therapist assistants work under the supervision of physical therapists and perform various tasks related to patient care, including applying therapeutic modalities and assisting with exercise programs.
These professionals must have at least an associates degree in order to practice.
Earnings for Physical Therapist Assistants
Physical Therapist Assistants are the backbone of the physical therapy industry. They are responsible for assisting a licensed physical therapist with their work. This can include administrative tasks like scheduling appointments and entering data into the system.
In addition to being an integral part of a physical therapy practice, PTAs also have unique earning potential that varies according to their experience level and geographic location.
Physical Therapist Assistants who have been in the field for less than five years earn an average annual salary of $47,698. Those who have been working in their roles for over five years earn an average annual salary of $58,928 per year.
Physical Therapist Assistants who live in states with high cost of living tend to make more than those who live in states with lower cost of living.
Moving Forward with Your Degree as a PTA
PTA’s provide valuable and comprehensive care to patients. They are able to do a variety of tasks not normally associated with physical therapy. They can perform manual therapy techniques and assist in rehabilitative exercises. PTAs can also order diagnostic and imaging tests and apply non-pharmacologic methods of pain management. A PTA can teach patients how to take charge of their own healthcare, and aid in procedure assistance.
PTAs can develop home exercise programs for patients who have been discharged from the hospital or clinic. They can also handle administrative tasks. Tasks may include preparing reports regarding patient care and submitting insurance claims etc. They can be a liaison between the patient and members of the healthcare team (i.e. physicians, nurses) etc.. PTA’s must be compassionate, caring individuals that can put their patients needs above all else; PTA’s have to interact well with others in order to get the most out of each patient’s physical therapy experience.