Physical Therapy Assistants

Physical Therapy Assistant Helps Patient during Exercise

Physical therapy assistants (PTAs) help to restore physical function in people with injury, birth defects, or disease. They assist physical therapists with a variety of techniques, such as exercise, massage, heat, and water therapy.

Physical therapy assistants work directly under the supervision of physical therapists. They teach and help patients improve functional activities required in their daily lives, such as walking, climbing, and moving from one place to another. The assistants observe patients during treatments, record the patients' responses and progress, and report these to the physical therapist, either orally or in writing. They fit patients for and teach them to use braces, artificial limbs, crutches, canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and other devices. They may make physical measurements to assess the effects of treatments or to evaluate patients' range of motion, length and girth of body parts, and vital signs. Physical therapy assistants act as members of a team and regularly confer with other members of the physical therapy staff. There are approximately 81,230 physical therapy assistants employed in the United States.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Physical Therapy Aides
Duties Assist physical therapists in the development of treatment plans; perform tests to evaluate disabilities; document the progress of treatment; modify treatments in accordance with patient status
Salary Range $25,000 to $75,000
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Nationwide
Minimum Education Level
  • Associate's Degree
School Subjects
  • Biology
  • Health
  • Physical Education
Experience Clinical experience through an accredited program required
Personality Traits
  • Hands On
  • Helpful
  • Outgoing
  • Coaching/Physical Training
  • Interpersonal
  • Mechanical/Manual Dexterity
Certification or Licensing Required
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Excellent
Advancement Prospects Excellent
Outlook Much Faster than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Supervisor
  • Physical Therapist
  • Physical Therapy Assistant
  • Part-Time Physical Therapy Assistant
  • Physical Therapy Aide