A physical therapist assistant salary varies by state education and experience. This is a job that requires knowledge and skill, and it’s one that requires you to work under the direct supervision of a physical therapist who is licensed and trained for the job. Your job as a physical therapist assistant is paramount to the success of your patients. Your job allows you to help those who have physical limitations due to injury or health-related issues.
Working as a physical therapist assistant puts you in direct contact with patients who need help with their mobility issues. It requires patience, knowledge, and a significant amount of physical work in your office setting. This job is for those who want to earn a physical therapist assistant salary while helping those who need physical therapy. It’s a noble job with a good reputation, and there is room for advancement alongside a substantial amount of job satisfaction. It’s time to learn what a PTA does, how to become one, and what you can expect in terms of a physical therapist assistant salary.
Job Outlook and Duties
One of the most common questions people ask before going into any career field is about the job outlook. Will you have job prospects when you’re done with your education and any necessary training? Will your job be around for the rest of your life? Is there a growing need for people in this industry, or is there a chance this job is being slowly outsourced, and room for growth is dwindling?
The job outlook of a physical therapist assistant is continuously growing. More and more people are in need of physical therapy because of injuries, health issues, and other problems they face. As long as people are in need of mobility training and help, this industry will continue to grow.
The job duties of a physical therapist assistant are simple. Your job is to work with a physical therapist to help patients with injuries or health problems regain movement in their extremities or manage pain that prevents them from moving as they should. For example, a physical therapist assistant might help an athlete recover from a surgery that took him out of the game for the season. Your job is to assist your therapist in helping your patient learn to manage pain and to move, handle, and exercise the body part they injured to prevent future injuries from occurring.
The same type of assistance is needed when someone has a health issue. A patient who suffers from a stroke and loses mobility in their arm might require physical therapy to help regain the mobility in that arm. It’s a challenging job, but it’s one that offers many rewards. You’ll handle patient care, you’ll create a game plan for patient therapy, and you’ll assist your patients and your therapist in educating your patients on the best outlook for their pain management or mobility issues.
A physical therapist assistant has many job options in locations such as the following.
Education and Certifications
You cannot just walk into a school or office and apply to work as a physical therapist assistant. You must have the correct college degree, and you must have a license from the state. The education requirements and the licensing requirements are not negotiable in any state.
Education Requirements for Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant
The general rule is that you must have a two-year college degree from an accredited physical therapist assistant program to work legally as a PTA. These programs are offered by most community colleges and universities. The program is highly specialized to teach students the intricacies of the job, the body, and the proper way to help a patient overcome their issues and manage their pain. These programs are competitive, and it helps to have stellar grades to apply for the program and during your time in the program.
While a bachelor’s degree is not required to work as a PTA, it is helpful to have one. This allows you to work in a more complex manner as a PTA by allowing you to take on the role of management in an office setting. Furthermore, this degree makes it easier for you to advance from a PTA to a physical therapist who oversees the work of your own PTA. The advancement options are numerous, and this degree requires only two more years of education. You can work on it while you work as a PTA to allow yourself some on-the-job training while you advance your career.
Licensing Requirements for Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant
Once you graduate from your two-year program, you must take the natural licensure examination in your state. You cannot work as a licensed physical therapist assistant until you pass this exam and have your license in hand. Your PTA program guide provides you with the information you need to take this exam in your state, along with the proper study techniques, fees, and the times you can take the exam.
Physical Therapist Assistant Salary
The physical therapist assistant salary is approximately $57,620 annually. This figure is derived from the low and high end of the physical therapist assistant salary packages offered across the United States. Many people make more, some people make less, and everyone has a chance to earn a different physical therapist assistant salary depending on multiple factors. These factors include where you live and work, your education, what kind of employer you work for, and your experience in the field.
Location and the Physical Therapist Assistant Salary
Location is one of the most important calculations when determining your physical therapist assistant salary. The highest paid physical therapist assistants in the United States are in Texas. Four of the top five highest-paid cities for this specific job are in Texas, and the fifth is in Morristown, Tennessee. The average physical therapist assistant salary in Corpus Christi, Texas is the highest in the country at $80,340 annually. This is followed closely by physical therapist assistant salary packages offered in Tyler, Texas, Dallas, and Longview, Texas.
There are other states with high and impressive physical therapist assistant salary packages besides Texas. New Jersey, California, Florida, and Connecticut also pay well if you work as a physical therapist assistant.
Education and Experience and Salary
A physical therapist salary is higher if you have more education and more experience. Experience only comes with time, but you can add to your education throughout the course of your career. One way to make the most of your career as a physical therapist assistant is to become licensed following your two-year degree, and work on your four-year degree while you work as a PTA. This allows you to gain experience if you choose to become a physical therapist when you’re done with your four-year degree, and it provides you a chance to advance your career if you choose an office management position.
Experienced physical therapist assistant salary packages average $10,000 or more compared to the salary you earn when you begin. The other leading salary factor is your place of employment. You can work in a school, a hospital, a sports facility, or many other locations. Some pay more than others in certain cities, which is why you should compare jobs before accepting on at face value.
The ten percent of people at the lowest end of the salary spectrum earn a physical therapist assistant salary of $34,640 per year. Those at the high end of the physical therapist assistant salary chart earn around $79,040 per year. Income is based on all the factors listed above, but some offices offer bonuses to their employees. Bonuses are sometimes included in a salary package if they are tied to a certain stipulation, and others are given as a gift to employees who perform their job well throughout the year. Those might not be listed in your salary package when you accept a job.
The perks of working as a physical therapist assistant outweigh any potential downsides. You have options, which is not something you have in many careers. A physical therapist can work regular weekday hours, weekend hours, weeknight hours, and any variation of those hours depending on where you work. A school PTA might have more time off, and a PTA for a sports facility might work long hours during any given sports season but nowhere near the same hours otherwise.
The career path for a PTA is a promising one. You can advance into a leadership role when you further your education. The time it takes to become a PTA is minimal compared to other roles in the healthcare industry, and the pay is good for those who want to start a family or live a comfortable lifestyle. The hours are flexible depending on the setting where you work, and it’s a career that offers satisfaction from helping others overcome their inabilities.