How to Become a Physical Therapy Assistant

What Does a Physical Therapy Assistant Do?

physical therapy assistant helping patient walk

Physical therapy assistants (PTAs) provide invaluable services to patients experiencing physical discomfort. Working under the supervision of licensed physical therapists, PTAs use massage, heat treatment, exercise and other non-invasive means to treat disease, injury and deformity. There is immense personal satisfaction that results from reducing physical suffering and pain and improving the functional mobility of the patients they serve.

PTAs use their knowledge of anatomy and physiology – especially the musculoskeletal and nervous systems – to carry out treatment plans prescribed by physical therapists. They may be training a patient to walk with crutches or a walker; assisting with the correct technique in completing an exercise program; using modalities such as heat, ultrasound or electrical stimulation to decrease pain; teaching aquatics exercises; or instructing a patient and family in safety techniques for home.

Workplace Details

Physical therapy is performed in a variety of different work environments including hospitals, clinics, medical offices, schools and rehabilitation centers. The hours can vary significantly depending on the setting. In a school setting, you will typically have the same schedule as a teacher. If you work in an outpatient clinic, the hours are normal office hours. If, however, you are in a hospital or in a home health setting, you may be required to work rotating weekends and holidays. The sports and entertainment industries frequently hire specialized physical therapist assistants as staff to travel with teams and accompany the athletes and entertainers to performance venues. Certification and specialization is a prerequisite for these exceptional job opportunities.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
Texas
$71780
Ohio
$58080
Florida
$62730
California
$63680
Illinois
$56220

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

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ALABAMA
Median Salary: 
$53,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $39,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $69,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 47%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 150

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$33,760$48,640$62,100
Huntsville$41,750$56,070$72,860

ALASKA
Median Salary: 
$65,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $36,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $88,900

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

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$43,530$73,280$91,830

ARIZONA
Median Salary: 
$43,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $70,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$22,390$40,120$70,860
Tuscon$22,980$48,450$63,380

ARKANSAS
Median Salary: 
$53,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $73,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 42%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$39,240$55,960$77,980
Fort Smith$36,350$53,560$75,200

CALIFORNIA
Median Salary: 
$66,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $34,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $81,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 290

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$39,740$66,530$78,770
San Francisco Bay$51,130$69,650$90,740
San Diego$34,660$65,940$87,810
Sacramento$51,840$67,960$81,100

COLORADO
Median Salary: 
$51,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $31,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $65,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 46%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$35,140$54,040$66,240
Colorado Springs$32,800$49,100$61,490

CONNECTICUT
Median Salary: 
$55,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $76,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 29%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$25,830$54,660$76,880
Bridgeport$34,890$60,530$78,070
New Haven$23,590$59,120$77,310

DELAWARE
Median Salary: 
$57,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $42,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $78,500

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

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$44,340$59,600$81,290
Dover$42,860$56,740$72,840

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Median Salary: 
$38,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $29,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $70,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$22,310$53,810$77,410

FLORIDA
Median Salary: 
$60,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $43,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $79,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 40%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 300

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$38,860$61,520$77,420
Orlando$45,560$58,030$85,210
Tampa$40,440$57,910$75,350
Jacksonville$42,660$62,390$89,390

GEORGIA
Median Salary: 
$56,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $31,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $74,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 52%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 100

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$28,180$53,000$72,590
Augusta$41,020$51,190$76,510

HAWAII
Median Salary: 
$39,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $59,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 29%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$21,330$37,450$57,960

IDAHO
Median Salary: 
$52,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $74,500

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$22,590$38,660$64,510
Idaho Falls$18,670$47,760$62,570

ILLINOIS
Median Salary: 
$54,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $75,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 190

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$26,540$56,570$76,860
Rockford$28,450$47,720$72,430

INDIANA
Median Salary: 
$55,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $39,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $74,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 38%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$41,970$58,260$75,130
South Bend$44,680$56,480$76,860
Fort Wayne$34,560$48,150$63,610

IOWA
Median Salary: 
$45,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $63,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 38%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$23,160$48,150$71,140
Cedar Rapids$22,010$42,170$58,490

KANSAS
Median Salary: 
$54,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $39,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $72,300

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$41,330$55,910$76,560
Kansas City$38,670$53,490$63,480

KENTUCKY
Median Salary: 
$54,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $34,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $74,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 53%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$39,860$58,520$75,660
Lexington$27,660$53,400$76,150

LOUISIANA
Median Salary: 
$43,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $69,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$33,030$47,550$68,620
Baton Rouge$26,600$56,220$77,200
Lafayette$22,950$33,060$54,370

MAINE
Median Salary: 
$51,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $39,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $62,500

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

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$40,810$52,120$65,220

MARYLAND
Median Salary: 
$58,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $83,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 43%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$30,760$58,350$80,470
Frederick$22,660$57,520$86,930

MASSACHUSETTS
Median Salary: 
$57,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $39,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $75,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$42,690$59,030$77,580
Worcester$32,450$52,840$70,900
Springfield$44,940$57,470$72,400

MICHIGAN
Median Salary: 
$46,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $64,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 29%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 210

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$22,290$45,510$83,850
Grand Rapids$26,240$45,240$59,590

MINNESOTA
Median Salary: 
$51,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $37,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $62,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 24%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$38,580$52,750$62,960
Rochester$37,650$54,940$71,230

MISSISSIPPI
Median Salary: 
$50,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $71,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Jackson$21,240$39,740$63,240
Gulfport$21,180$45,120$70,220

MISSOURI
Median Salary: 
$51,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $32,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $69,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 38%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$26,620$50,000$70,380
Kansas City$38,670$53,490$63,480

MONTANA
Median Salary: 
$45,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $31,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $57,600

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

NEBRASKA
Median Salary: 
$49,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $69,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 34%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$29,750$51,100$72,850
Lincoln$21,290$49,110$69,120

NEVADA
Median Salary: 
$55,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $76,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 37%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$28,350$59,720$77,200
Reno$25,850$36,370$66,540

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Median Salary: 
$55,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $42,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $71,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 36%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Manchester$45,710$58,140$75,040
Nashua$41,740$51,810$68,810

NEW JERSEY
Median Salary: 
$63,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $50,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $77,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 36%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$42,760$62,020$77,210
Trenton$42,620$58,510$82,110

NEW MEXICO
Median Salary: 
$48,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $68,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 37%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$24,120$55,130$71,300
Las Cruces$33,210$56,390$78,090

NEW YORK
Median Salary: 
$52,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $35,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $72,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 270

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$37,250$58,890$76,090
Buffalo$34,930$45,370$59,160
Rochester$33,950$47,830$61,020
Albany$33,650$43,310$56,580

NORTH CAROLINA
Median Salary: 
$59,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $43,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $75,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 35%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 160

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$45,390$59,780$74,910
Raleigh$43,690$58,640$74,540
Greensboro$42,250$58,440$76,480
Winston - Salem$37,840$53,700$73,310

NORTH DAKOTA
Median Salary: 
$43,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $32,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $63,700

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

OHIO
Median Salary: 
$55,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $41,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $75,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 39%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 340

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$50,010$60,160$80,680
Columbus$42,310$53,930$62,870
Cincinnati$38,710$52,830$75,500
Dayton$49,100$59,970$90,180

OKLAHOMA
Median Salary: 
$56,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $38,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $74,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$39,020$55,850$74,580
Tulsa$41,530$57,380$72,740

OREGON
Median Salary: 
$54,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $42,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $63,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 44%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$42,930$54,640$63,030
Salem$44,980$57,800$72,920

PENNSYLVANIA
Median Salary: 
$46,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $31,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $70,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 29%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 280

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$26,500$51,750$75,690
Pittsburgh$33,190$45,750$75,400
Harrisburg$40,650$51,610$66,160
Allentown$39,940$48,750$61,970

RHODE ISLAND
Median Salary: 
$53,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $29,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $75,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$27,010$54,840$75,500

SOUTH CAROLINA
Median Salary: 
$54,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $37,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $86,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$40,650$53,330$62,720
Columbia$40,710$69,540$98,980
Charleston$24,790$50,700$70,500

SOUTH DAKOTA
Median Salary: 
$35,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $44,300

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

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Sioux Falls$30,040$35,640$43,280
Rapid City$27,490$35,550$44,610

TENNESSEE
Median Salary: 
$56,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $39,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $73,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 56%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 180

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$39,110$56,660$69,130
Memphis$45,270$59,080$75,150
Knoxville$32,400$49,720$62,910
Chattanooga$40,040$54,600$72,360

TEXAS
Median Salary: 
$70,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $38,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $112,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 43%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 440

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$38,900$80,380$117,780
Houston$49,770$65,520$82,640
San Antonio$33,350$70,980$115,780
Austin$32,780$66,900$87,890

UTAH
Median Salary: 
$49,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $70,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 49%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Salt Lake City$25,220$45,410$63,150
Ogden$40,500$55,140$76,670

VERMONT
Median Salary: 
$52,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $41,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $62,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

VIRGINIA
Median Salary: 
$54,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $76,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 43%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 150

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$22,890$53,790$76,860
Richmond$21,190$38,580$73,830

WASHINGTON
Median Salary: 
$57,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $41,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $77,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 34%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$42,500$59,430$79,850
Spokane$23,570$49,020$71,300

WEST VIRGINIA
Median Salary: 
$49,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $31,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $72,300

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$35,490$51,850$78,420
Charleston$30,620$47,260$61,490

WISCONSIN
Median Salary: 
$51,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $35,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $63,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$40,190$51,340$62,140
Madison$32,900$45,800$61,610

WYOMING
Median Salary: 
$50,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $38,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $66,700

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

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cheyenne$42,110$54,020$73,050

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapist assistants make a median salary of $56,610, and salaries generally range from $34,640 - $79,040 per year. Specific salaries depend on the individual’s qualifications, education and experience, as well as geographic location and size of the hiring facility.

Job prospects for physical therapist assistants are excellent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth projection for this career is 41% from 2014 to 2024, a much faster than average rate. The fact that the population is aging rapidly makes it likely that PTAs will be needed for years to come.

Compare Salaries by City

Chicago IL Median Pay

$56570 Per Year

$27.19 Per Hour

New York City NY Median Pay

$58890 Per Year

$28.31 Per Hour

Steps to Become a Physical Therapy Assistant

1

Earn an associate degree.

A physical therapy assistant must have an associate’s degree to work in this field. An Associate of Physical Therapy Assistant degree involves a two-year program that incorporates classroom learning with clinical experience. Students take academic courses in algebra, anatomy, physiology, English and psychology. Early on, students gain hands-on experience by shadowing physical therapists and other PTAs. By the end of the program, students work under the close supervision of trained mentors.

Show Me Schools »

The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) oversees and certifies schools that can train future physical therapist assistants; CAPTE maintains a list of accredited physical therapy programs in the United States. It is very important to attend an accredited institution to avoid future licensure problems.

2

Pass the NPTE.

In order to become a physical therapy assistant, you must take and pass the national physical therapy exam (NPTE), administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). The physical therapist assistant test (PTA NPTE) is 150 questions and lasts 3.5 hours. You must graduate from a CAPTE-accredited program before being eligible to take this test.

3

Look for work or an internship.

After receiving the physical therapist assistant degree, and passing the NPTE, most assistants are ready to look for their first job. However, some assistants will choose to look for an internship with a physical therapy facility to provide further experience in the field. Working internships prepare job seekers to understand better the nature of the work. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) website provides information on the specifics of how to interview for and land an internship.

4

Consider opportunities for advancement.

Many PTAs continue their studies to obtain a master’s or doctorate degree so as to work as a physical therapist. The years of experience obtained as an assistant may help to gain acceptance into a physical therapy program. PTAs can also advance in administrative positions, particularly in larger facilities.

Exploring the Degree Paths

ASSOCIATE DEGREE

2 years

To be eligible for licensure, physical therapy assistants must earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

There are currently about 300 accredited physical therapy assistant programs located at universities, community and technical colleges, and private career schools across the country. A few of these programs offer online lectures. (Students still need to be onsite for labs and clinical experiences.)

Show Me Schools »

Many physical therapy assistant programs have prerequisites in anatomy and physiology, college composition, patient care, and medical terminology. Because admission to physical therapy assistant programs is somewhat competitive, it’s important to earn good grades in these courses.

The physical therapy assistant curriculum consists of 75 percent classroom instruction and 25 percent clinical (hands-on) learning. In the classroom and lab, expect to study:

Clinical kinesiology

Practice biomechanics and therapeutic exercises for each region of the body.

Therapy modalities

Learn how practices like heat, cold, massage, and hydrotherapy can improve function.

Neurological assessment and management

Gain an understanding of how therapy can improve function in people with stroke, brain injury, and related disorders.

Basic pharmacology

Study how different classes of drugs can help improve function and learn to administer them safely.

Physical therapy assistant students also complete 16 weeks of clinicals (sometimes called internship). This is an opportunity to care for real-life patients under the supervision of a clinical instructor. As an intern, you’ll practice basic patient care skills, assessment, therapies, and safety precautions.

Keys to Success as a Physical Therapy Assistant

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Physical fitness

Maintaining good physical condition is critical for handling long hours of standing and assisting patients.

Interpersonal skills

PTAs should have a friendly manner and relaxed attitude and should be comfortable working with people of all ages.

Additional Credentials

The American Physical Therapy Association offers Advanced Proficiency Pathways for PTAs who want to become experts in the following areas:

  • Acute care
  • Cardiopulmonary
  • Geriatric
  • Oncology
  • Orthopedics
  • Pediatrics
  • Wound management

Candidates must apply to and be accepted by the program. They then complete 60 hours of continuing education courses and work 2,000 experience hours within their specialty. They also collaborate with a physical therapist mentor to develop their hands-on skills.

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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