Physical Therapist Aides
Schools and Education
|Recommended Degree Level||Certificate or Higher|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||48,700|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||4.8%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||2,760|
- Many physical therapist aides receive all the training they need to complete their tasks while on the job.
- Completing a certificate program at a vocational school can give you a competitive advantage when applying for jobs.
What you study:
Whether you learn how to be a physical therapist solely from on-the-job training or in a classroom environment, you will study the following types of topics:
- Physiology and Anatomy
- Medical Terminology and Billing
- Mobility and Exercise Therapy
- Musculoskeletal Systems and Functions
- Physical Ailments and Diseases
- Patient Safety
Introduces the work of a physical therapy aide. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.
A Day in the Life
As a physical therapist aide, your job is to provide support to physical therapists and to patients who are working to rebuild muscle or regain motion after surgery, an accident or an illness. When you arrive at work each day, you will be responsible for sterilizing and preparing the different rooms and treatment centers in the physical therapy office where you work. This portion of your day will be relatively short. After you've finished these basic tasks, you'll get to move on to the more rewarding and challenging work of helping patients.
When you work as a physical therapist aide, you will work with a licensed therapy assistant to help patients follow a program of exercises that has been designed for them by a physical therapist. This means that you may need to help patients as they situate themselves on special equipment. You'll also help patients who have difficulty moving go to different stations or areas in your physical therapy office. While you're with patients, you'll do more than just assist with their exercises. You'll be a key motivating force for your patients by encouraging them to complete difficult activities.
In addition to helping and motivating your patients, you'll also make notes about their progress to share with their physical therapist. You may also be asked to help patients complete assessments to gauge their strength and mobility. You'll measure range of motion and record patient vital signs. After each patient's appointment, you'll check in with the therapist to report on patient progress and talk about any adjustments that need to be made to the treatment plan. Your patients will come to know you by name and will rely on you to help them with their wellness goals.
As a physical therapist aide, you'll also be in charge of basic office duties such as organizing supplies, taking inventory and ordering essential supplies. You may take care of billing tasks. You'll also have the opportunity to help patients fill out intake paperwork.
Certifications and Licensing
No formal licensing is needed in order to become a physical therapist aide. Many individuals who work in this field receive all of the training that they need from the physical therapists for whom they work.
Full-time versus part-time:
Physical therapist aides can work either full- or part-time schedules. Many aides work part time while attending school. For physical therapist aides who wish to continue their education in this field, advancement opportunities are excellent. Becoming a physical therapist aide is a great way to begin a career as a physical therapist assistant or licensed physical therapist.
These are some of our favorite websites for finding information about a career as a physical therapist aide:
- The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: This essential handbook provides a wealth of statistical information about physical therapist aide salaries, education and employment projections. Because this resource focuses on data, it is important that individuals who wish to become physical therapist aides also visit websites that can offer a well-rounded view of this career.
- The American Physical Therapy Association: The APTA is the leading organization for licensed physical therapists in the U.S. News about research in the field of physical therapy and professional advocacy activities are presented on the site. Prospective physical therapist aide students will find a wealth of information about college programs, career prospects and the expectations for professionals in this field.
- The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy: The FSBPT site provides a wide array of information about licensing, regulation and training in the field of physical therapy. Resources are available both for students and experienced professionals in the field. Physical therapist aides can benefit from looking up job and volunteer opportunities on this site.