Who Are Physical Therapist Assistants?
The Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs help people of all ages who have medical problems, or other health-related conditions that limit their ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTAs work in a variety of settings including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health, nursing homes, schools, sports facilities, and more. PTAs must complete a 2-year associate's degree and are licensed, certified, or registered in most states. Care provided by a PTA may include teaching patients/clients exercise for mobility, strength and coordination, training for activities such as walking with crutches, canes, or walkers, massage, and the use of physical agents and electrotherapy such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation.
WHAT DO PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANTS EARN?
The median income for a physical therapist assistant is $37,000 depending on position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic location, and practice setting.
WHERE DO PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANTS WORK?
Today, physical therapists provide health care services to patients of all ages and health conditions in a variety of settings, including:
- Outpatient clinics or offices
- Inpatient rehabilitation facilities
- Skilled nursing, extended care, or subacute facilities
- Education or research centers
- Industrial, workplace, or other occupational environments
- Fitness centers and sports training facilities
WHAT ARE THE EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING A PTA?
Physical therapist assistants must complete a two-year education program, typically offered through a community or junior college. Candidates receive an associate's degree upon graduation. The course of study usually includes one year of general education and one year of technical courses on physical therapy procedures and clinical experience. There are 233 accredited physical therapist assistant education programs throughout the country.
WHAT ARE THE LICENSURE REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING A PTA?
More than 40 states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed, registered, or certified. States requiring licensure stipulate specific educational and examination criteria.
WHAT IS THE EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK FOR PHYSICAL THERAPY?
Employment conditions for physical therapist assistants continue to improve. There is currently an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, down from 4.2 percent in spring 2001.
WHERE CAN I FIND A PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANT PROGRAM?
Bishop State Community College (Mobile)
G.C. Wallace Community College (Dothan)
Jefferson State Community College (Birmingham)
South University (Montgomery)
Wallace State Community College (Hanceville)