How to Become a Physical Therapist Aide

What Does a Physical Therapist Aide Do?

PT aide helps with arm exercise

Physical therapist aides employ a unique combination of skills – physical strength and the sensitivity to offer physical assistance compassionately. Physical therapist aides assist patients in and out of the therapy area of a clinic, offering aid when needed without impinging on a client’s sense of independence and mobility. They help the physical therapist and assistants to support or lift clients who have physical disabilities or injuries that prevent them from moving freely. They may also set up equipment, monitor client progress and help with clerical tasks.

Physical therapy involves prescribing and assisting patients with exercises for strength and range of motion; therapeutic interventions to improve daily functioning; and training in the use of assistive devices and mobility aids. A certified physical therapist (PT) or a certified physical therapy assistant (PTA) typically employs one or two physical therapy aides to assist with physically demanding routines as well as to help keep the office running smoothly. The physical therapist aide occupies a satisfying hands-on position working directly with patients and therapists, allowing for physical therapy treatment to be performed efficiently.

Workplace Details

Nearly 25% of all physical therapy aides work in hospitals. Assisted living facilities such as nursing homes employ another 9%. The rest work in health care service facilities such as private physical therapy clinics or doctors’ offices. The PT aide position is a physically active one that requires moving patients and equipment in preparation for physical therapy procedures. Most aides work a full-time schedule, although part-time positions also exist.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
California
$29930
Texas
$25820
New Jersey
$27540
Illinois
$41020
New York
$28220

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

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ALABAMA
Median Salary: 
$21,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 37%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$16,830$21,460$29,940

ALASKA
Median Salary: 
$36,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

ARIZONA
Median Salary: 
$26,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 34%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$20,990$27,290$37,280
Tuscon$20,440$26,900$34,460

ARKANSAS
Median Salary: 
$22,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 45%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$19,210$26,500$30,630
Fort Smith$17,050$21,800$30,660

CALIFORNIA
Median Salary: 
$27,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 32%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 380

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$20,870$27,250$38,090
San Francisco Bay$20,650$28,470$49,690
San Diego$20,450$26,140$49,440
Sacramento$20,940$29,820$45,790

COLORADO
Median Salary: 
$29,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $44,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 44%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$23,080$30,210$44,960
Colorado Springs$24,140$32,670$49,060

CONNECTICUT
Median Salary: 
$29,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $44,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 28%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$22,610$30,840$44,400
Bridgeport$21,590$30,370$46,340
New Haven$21,220$26,860$43,970

DELAWARE
Median Salary: 
$22,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$17,730$22,250$30,560
Dover$18,010$25,630$35,360

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Median Salary: 
$31,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $41,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$18,870$27,260$45,140

FLORIDA
Median Salary: 
$25,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 36%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 150

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$19,310$24,090$34,640
Orlando$20,540$25,870$31,230
Tampa$19,660$25,350$30,860
Jacksonville$20,590$25,160$30,680

GEORGIA
Median Salary: 
$22,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 43%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$17,430$22,860$30,350
Augusta$18,560$28,750$46,410

HAWAII
Median Salary: 
$26,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$16,860$23,030$37,140

IDAHO
Median Salary: 
$23,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $33,700

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$20,470$24,490$38,500

ILLINOIS
Median Salary: 
$35,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $74,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 170

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$20,040$33,950$64,690
Rockford$25,490$36,190$48,090

INDIANA
Median Salary: 
$24,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $33,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 36%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$20,580$24,490$30,460
South Bend$20,030$23,510$57,570

IOWA
Median Salary: 
$27,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 32%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

KANSAS
Median Salary: 
$24,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$15,710$18,090$27,150
Kansas City$16,850$25,050$36,580

KENTUCKY
Median Salary: 
$22,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 48%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$17,000$27,000$70,590
Lexington$16,170$19,590$27,360

LOUISIANA
Median Salary: 
$22,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $29,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$18,990$23,120$29,550
Baton Rouge$16,910$22,260$29,540
Lafayette$16,800$21,140$27,960

MAINE
Median Salary: 
$25,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $34,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

MARYLAND
Median Salary: 
$23,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 39%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$17,610$22,500$34,260
Frederick$18,640$30,790$53,850

MASSACHUSETTS
Median Salary: 
$28,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$24,580$28,660$37,580
Worcester$20,840$24,820$35,720
Springfield$21,120$30,270$44,710

MICHIGAN
Median Salary: 
$23,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$19,480$22,910$33,970
Grand Rapids$20,670$27,530$44,160

MINNESOTA
Median Salary: 
$32,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $52,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$18,310$31,030$50,870

MISSISSIPPI
Salary Data Not Available

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Gulfport$16,700$22,500$34,890

MISSOURI
Median Salary: 
$21,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,700

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$17,600$23,730$62,720
Kansas City$16,850$25,050$36,580

MONTANA
Median Salary: 
$29,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 24%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

NEBRASKA
Median Salary: 
$22,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $29,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$17,910$22,050$28,750
Lincoln$18,030$22,520$30,850

NEVADA
Median Salary: 
$27,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $54,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 41%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$18,700$29,300$57,450
Reno$15,930$18,660$35,720

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Median Salary: 
$30,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 32%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

NEW JERSEY
Median Salary: 
$25,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$20,830$26,590$37,870
Trenton$18,530$23,400$31,790

NEW MEXICO
Median Salary: 
$27,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 36%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Cruces$18,200$26,190$34,210

NEW YORK
Median Salary: 
$26,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 34%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$19,610$24,570$36,790
Buffalo$21,830$29,670$38,780
Rochester$20,430$29,370$37,710
Albany$19,500$27,480$38,550

NORTH CAROLINA
Median Salary: 
$24,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $32,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$17,630$22,900$29,760
Raleigh$20,330$26,050$32,970
Greensboro$20,510$25,360$30,900
Winston - Salem$19,690$24,690$33,330

NORTH DAKOTA
Median Salary: 
$24,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Fargo$20,380$23,690$44,960
Bismarck$20,670$23,850$33,060

OHIO
Median Salary: 
$24,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 35%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$20,500$24,420$32,500
Columbus$19,830$25,830$30,820
Cincinnati$20,200$24,200$32,330
Dayton$20,820$25,290$30,700

OKLAHOMA
Median Salary: 
$23,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $34,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$16,530$21,780$32,700
Tulsa$20,370$26,130$34,620

OREGON
Median Salary: 
$27,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 54%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$22,230$28,530$39,810
Salem$22,340$27,350$31,090

PENNSYLVANIA
Median Salary: 
$27,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $46,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 28%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$18,870$26,130$38,760
Pittsburgh$21,280$31,650$49,350
Harrisburg$17,520$24,360$36,320
Allentown$20,300$25,590$32,850

RHODE ISLAND
Median Salary: 
$26,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $35,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$21,150$27,130$35,960

SOUTH CAROLINA
Median Salary: 
$20,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$16,210$19,670$28,040
Columbia$16,150$19,150$27,300
Charleston$16,270$25,800$31,100

SOUTH DAKOTA
Median Salary: 
$26,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $34,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Sioux Falls$20,320$27,810$36,100

TENNESSEE
Median Salary: 
$22,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 49%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$16,590$22,530$34,190
Memphis$17,190$23,530$31,090
Knoxville$16,140$19,780$27,240
Chattanooga$16,360$19,670$29,510

TEXAS
Median Salary: 
$23,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 34%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 350

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$17,340$24,130$31,510
Houston$20,100$24,140$37,440
San Antonio$18,940$23,670$30,340
Austin$20,310$27,320$30,990

UTAH
Median Salary: 
$21,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $28,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 48%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Salt Lake City$17,370$21,890$30,250
Ogden$16,750$21,430$27,790

VERMONT
Salary Data Not Available

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

VIRGINIA
Median Salary: 
$24,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $33,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 48%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$18,940$22,730$29,450
Richmond$20,090$22,710$27,680

WASHINGTON
Median Salary: 
$26,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 38%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$21,990$28,470$50,970
Spokane$20,550$23,430$32,530

WEST VIRGINIA
Median Salary: 
$22,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$17,210$20,770$26,890

WISCONSIN
Median Salary: 
$25,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$17,850$27,800$42,180
Madison$21,560$28,040$37,030

WYOMING
Median Salary: 
$25,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 41%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist aide wages range from $19,370 to $38,340, with a median annual salary of $25,680. Physical therapy aides working in nursing homes and hospitals earned more than aides working in doctors’ or health practitioners’ offices. Salary varies by geographic location as well.

Physical therapy is a healthcare field that continues to show growth. The number of physical therapy jobs is expected to increase as the US population continues to age. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that PT aide jobs are to increase by a staggering 39% from 2014 to 2024 - much faster than average growth. While the number of positions continues to grow, it is a competitive environment for job seekers. As the Baby Boomers reach retirement age, it is expected that the strongest job growth will occur in institutions that treat the elderly, such as hospitals, nursing homes and other assisted living facilities. Rural areas are predicted to have more job openings than urban areas.

Show Me Schools »

PT aides are entry-level positions that do not typically offer a path to advancement. Aides who wish to advance in a PT career will go on to get the education, training and certification necessary to become a physical therapy assistant or a licensed physical therapist.

Compare Salaries by City

New York City NY Median Pay

$24570 Per Year

$11.81 Per Hour

Chicago IL Median Pay

$33950 Per Year

$16.32 Per Hour

Steps to Become a Physical Therapist Aide

1

Get your high school diploma.

Although there are no college degree requirements for this career, a high school diploma is typically needed to become a physical therapy aide. Classes in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, biology, chemistry, and computer applications will improve your resume.

2

Volunteer.

Volunteering to work with the disabled in a hospital or clinic is another way to add to your skill set and enhance your resume. Volunteering is also a great way to make sure the nature of the work matches your interests and abilities.

3

Consider enrolling in a PT assistant educational program.

Most PT offices or clinics offer on-the-job training, but taking courses in physical therapy or physical fitness provides an edge to job seekers in this field. Many employers prefer to hire physical therapist aides who have completed coursework in healthcare or exercise science. This is therefore a great job for health professions students (for example, those studying to be physical therapy assistants).

Show Me Schools »

4

Benefit from on-the-job training.

Physical therapy aides generally receive on-the-job training that lasts anywhere from three months to a year. Working with experienced employees, the new employee will learn how to:

  • Keep therapy areas clean and well-organized
  • Set up, take down and use each piece of equipment
  • Access patient information
  • Assist patients in and out of therapy areas
  • Perform the necessary clerical tasks and record-keeping

Keys to Success as a Physical Therapist Aide

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Physical fitness

PT aides assist clients during their physical therapy exercises and treatments under the supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant. That means that a physical therapy aide should be physically fit, with the ability to kneel, bend and lift.

Good social and communication skills

PT aides interact with clients and the other staff in the office.

Organization

PT aides need the ability to carry out administrative tasks in the office.

Additional Credentials

Many employers require physical therapist aides to hold Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Basic Life Support (BLS) certification. These certifications require face-to-face training and passage of an exam. Both are available through the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association.

Katherine Rush, PT

Katherine Rush graduated from the University of Missouri in 1998 and has spent the last 17 years working as a physical therapist in a variety of healthcare settings. For the last 10 years she has focused on the development of programs related to pelvic health in men, women and children.

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