Bookmark and Share

Physical Therapist Assistant

What they do:

Physical therapy assistants (PTAs) aid physical therapists in helping patients with movement difficulties caused by injury or disease. They do everything from cleaning therapy spaces to recording accurate data on patient progress, teaching proper exercise techniques and showing patients how to use crutches or canes.


Many PTA programs offer two-year associate degrees, but students must graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education to be eligible for the licensure exam required by most states. About a quarter of that education should be in a clinical environment, and that’s where the job hunt should start, experts say. A considerable amount of additional education is required to transition into a physical therapist career.

What they make:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, the median annual wage for physical therapist assistants and aides was $42,980 in May 2015.

Where they work:

  • Home health agencies

  • Nursing facilities

  • Outpatient physical therapy clinics

  • Hospitals

  • Rehabilitation centers

  • Schools

  • Sports and fitness facilities


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapist assistants and aides is projected to grow 40% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for physical therapy services is expected to increase in response to the healthcare needs of an older population and individuals with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity.



Updated February 2017