Physical Therapy Assistant
Physical therapy assistants (PTA) should have no problems finding jobs in the next ten years. PTAs are actually among the top twenty fastest growing careers overall and among the top ten in the medical field! The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the profession as a whole to grow by 35%! This is a much faster growth rate than average and due to the expected growth jobs are expected to be very plentiful. Physical therapy assistant jobs will be especially good in settings where the elderly are most often treated, such as acute hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and orthopedic settings.
In the United States, there are currently almost 64,000 physical therapy assistants. The highest concentrations of PTA jobs are in Ohio, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, West Virginia, and Kentucky. The more alluring PTA jobs are found in large metropolitan areas, but the need is greatest in rural settings. The highest paying states for physical therapy assistants are California, Nevada, Texas, Florida, and Tennessee. PTA salary varies significantly depending on the employment setting, responsibilities, and experience. The BLS reports PTA annual salaries ranging from $28,580 to $63,830. Current job postings at popular sites such as indeed.com and monster.com list jobs for as high as and even beyond $100,000 annually. Hourly pay ranges from $13.74 up to $30.69.
Physical therapy assistants work in a variety of settings in many different venues of the medical industry. In 2008, the BLS reported that 72% of all physical therapy assistants worked in the offices of healthcare practitioners or hospitals. The following are among top five medical industries employing the largest numbers of PTAs:
- Health Practitioner Offices
- General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
- Nursing Care Facilities
- Home Health Care Services
- Physician Offices
While these industries employ the highest percentages of PTAs, jobs can also be found in outpatient clinics or offices, rehabilitation facilities, extended care facilities, education and research centers, schools, fitness centers, sports training facilities, and other occupational facilities. Due to the fact that physical therapy assistants treat patients of all ages and health conditions, the job possibilities and settings are really unlimited.
The highest paying jobs for PTAs can be found in home health care services, employment services and nursing care facilities. All three are reported to pay over $50,000 on average, annually. The lowest paying PTA jobs are found in the offices of physicians and other health practitioners.
Most physical therapy assistants work full-time. However, the hours and days that a PTA works will vary. Many physical therapy offices and clinics will have evening and weekend hours to accommodate patients’ personal schedules. Most PTAs do have holidays off. Only about 28% of all physical therapy assistants work part-time.
The job description of a physical therapy assistant is still the same despite the setting of the job. PTAs will assist physical therapists in all aspects of patient care. Some work settings may require the PTA to perform some administrative duties; however other work settings will also have physical therapy aides to assist in these sorts of tasks. State-to-state guidelines may also limit, restrict, and regulate what all physical therapy assistants can and can not do.
Physical therapists are expected to increasingly rely on physical therapy assistants (PTAs) in the coming years, which in turn creates more jobs. Delegating responsibilities to PTAs will allow physical therapist to reduce the cost of physical therapy services and in addition see more patients. Advances and developments in the medical and technological field are also increasing the percentage of survival for trauma victims and newborns with birth defects which creates an added demand for therapy and rehabilitative services.