Prosperous Outlook for Physical Therapy Assistants


By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN

The assistant and aides who work alongside physical therapists and travel physical therapists can expect career opportunities to steadily increase as the demand for physical therapy rises.  Physical therapy assistants and aides have clearly differentiated sets of responsibilities and differing training requirements but the healthcare industry’s need for their services is equally great. Both jobs work under the direct supervision of physical therapists.

Physical Therapy Assistant

Work Settings: Primarily in physical therapy offices or hospitals but also in nursing homes, physician offices, outpatient facilities and in home health.

Job Responsibilities may include: patient exercises, massages, hot and cold pack application, traction, ultrasound and charting and reporting of patient response to therapist

Education/Training: Typically an associate degree in a combination academic and hands-on clinical program, with licensing required by some states

Salary and Career Outlook: $45,000 per year. Better hiring prospects than aides; for both careers, however, employment is projected to increase by 29 percent by 2016. This is mainly attributed to the growing elderly population who require rehab therapy services.

Physical Therapy Aide:

Work Settings: Primarily in physical therapy offices or hospitals but also in nursing homes, physician offices, outpatient facilities and in home health.

Job Responsibilities may include: organizing and preparing treatment area for therapy session, transferring patients; because aides are not licensed, they are not allowed to undertake clinical tasks.

Education/Training: Mostly on the job training by employer, in addition to a high school diploma

Salary and Career Outlook: $28,000 per year. Prospects are not quite as good as for assistants simply because there is a greater level of competition for aide jobs. For both careers, however, employment is projected to increase by 29 percent by 2016. This is mainly attributed to the growing elderly population who require rehab therapy services

The best news of all is that opportunities for traveling physical therapy assistants and traveling physical therapy aides are also on the rise. Rehab therapy professionals in these roles can enjoy all the benefits of travel assignments to their dream destinations while gaining valuable skills and experience and possibly working towards the next step in their therapy career!

*Data source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.

Author: Allied Travel Careers

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