Physical Therapy Aide Jobs Experiencing Explosive Growth

By Brenda on November 5th, 2011


Physical therapy aides assist physical therapists with a variety of duties designed to improve patient’s mobility, decrease pain, and increase range of motion. Physical therapy aides perform direction patient care under the supervision of a physical therapist. They help patients use crutches, perform exercises, utilize therapeutic methods such as electrical methods, mechanical traction, and stretching exercises. They typically record the data and then give it over to the physical therapist for analysis.

Many physical therapy aides perform clerical and administrative duties as well. They often engage in customer service such as answering phones, booking appointments, filing, and organizing medical records. They are a critically important part of the physical therapy team because they make appointments far more productive for the patient and therapist.

It should be noted that physical therapy aides need to have the strength to assist patients. In some instances they actually need to lift the patient. There are frequent times when therapy aides need to bend, stretch, and kneel.

Physical therapy aides work varying hours. Many facilities are open during the evening and weekends to accommodate patient’s schedules. Approximately 30 percent work part time.

Physical Therapy Aid Education

In most states physical therapy aides and assistants are required by law to have an associate’s degree. Legitimate programs will be accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association’s Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. There are approximately 240 accredited programs as of 2009. Programs typically can be completed in two years and culminate in an associate’s degree.

Programs are designed to provide in-class instruction with a lot of clinical experience. Academic coursework includes a lot of science courses in biology, anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, and human development. Students are required to have their CRP and First Aid certification as well.

Most physical therapy aide programs are offered at community colleges, technical training schools, allied health science schools, and career schools. Programs may be online, on-campus, or a combination of both.

Employment as a physical therapy aide is expected to surge 35% during the time period of 2008-2018. Increased health care needs by an aging society are expected to fuel demand for services. Also, physical therapy aides are a great bargain in terms of salary compared to physical therapists.

They can do much of the same work, but at a much discounted price. The same situation is also fueling the paralegal and legal assistant job field. This rate of growth is over three times the average rate of growth for the average occupation. This accelerated industry growth makes choosing a physical therapy aide career a wise investment in the future for any student. Growth rates vary by geographical region.

Median annual wages for a physical therapy assistant was $46,200 in 2008. Wages vary by location, employer, and years of experience.


Category: Associates Degrees,Careers and Employment,Medical and Nursing