LMS Recruiting


Main Office

Vancouver, WA

Call Us


Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)

What do Physical Therapist Assistants do?

Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) are healthcare professionals who work under the supervision of licensed physical therapists
(PTs) to help patients recover from physical injuries and disabilities. Their role is to support the PTs in providing hands-on care to patients, implementing treatment plans, and helping patients achieve their therapy goals.

Here are some of the duties and responsibilities of a PTA:

  • Assist with patient evaluation: PTAs help the PTs to
    evaluate patients, gather medical histories, and perform functional tests.
  • Implement treatment plans: PTAs assist PTs in carrying out
    treatment plans, including exercises, stretches, and therapeutic modalities.
  • Monitor patients’ progress: PTAs document and report patient
    progress to PTs, including improvements, setbacks, and changes in treatment.
  • Educate patients: PTAs teach patients about exercises,
    self-care techniques, and injury prevention strategies.
  • Administer therapeutic interventions: PTAs may use
    modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and heat or cold therapy
    to help patients manage pain and inflammation.
  • Assist with equipment: PTAs may help patients use mobility
    aids and assistive devices, such as crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs.

Overall, PTAs play a crucial role in helping patients recover from physical injuries and disabilities, and they work closely with PTs
to provide comprehensive care and support to patients.

What is the job outlook for Physical Therapist Assistants?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) is projected to grow 33
percent from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is driven by several factors, including an aging population, advances in medical technology, and an increased focus on preventive care.

As the baby boomer generation continues to age, there will be an increased demand for PTAs to help them recover from injuries and
illnesses and manage chronic conditions such as arthritis and diabetes. Additionally, advances in medical technology and research will create new opportunities for PTAs to work with patients who have complex medical conditions or disabilities.

Overall, the job outlook for PTAs is very positive, and there is expected to be a high demand for qualified PTAs in the coming years.
This makes it a great career choice for those who are interested in healthcare and enjoy working with patients to help them achieve their therapy goals.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Physical therapist assistants held about 96,500 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of
physical therapist assistants were as follows:

Offices of physical,
occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists


Hospitals; state, local,
and private


Home healthcare services


Nursing care facilities
(skilled nursing facilities)


Offices of physicians


Physical therapist assistants are frequently on their feet and moving as they set up equipment and help and treat patients.
Because they must often lift and move patients, they are vulnerable to back injuries. Assistants can limit these risks by using proper techniques when they work with patients.

What are the salary expectations for Physical Therapist Assistants?

The salary expectations for physical therapist assistants (PTAs) can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, setting, and employer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for PTAs in the United States was $59,770 as of May 2020. The lowest 10% earned less than $36,080, while the highest 10% earned more than $88,050.

PTAs working in certain healthcare settings, such as home healthcare services or outpatient care centers, may earn higher salaries than those working in other settings such as nursing care facilities or hospitals. Location is also an important factor that can affect salary expectations for PTAs. PTAs working in metropolitan areas or states with higher costs of living may earn higher salaries than those in rural areas or states with lower costs of living.

It’s important to note that PTAs work under the supervision of licensed physical therapists (PTs) and may earn different salaries depending on the PT’s pay structure and the specific job duties assigned. In some cases, PTAs may also receive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.

Overall, while salaries for PTAs may not be as high as those for licensed PTs, the field offers a rewarding career path with opportunities
for growth and advancement, as well as competitive salaries and benefits.

What are the education requirements for Physical Therapist Assistants?

To become a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA), you typically need to complete an accredited PTA program and obtain an associate
degree in PTA. Here are the education requirements for PTAs in the United States:

  • High School Diploma: You must have a high school diploma or equivalent to enroll in a PTA program.
  • Accredited PTA program: You must complete an accredited PTA program, which typically takes two years to complete. These programs are available at community colleges, vocational schools, and universities.
  • Clinical Education: You will also need to complete a certain number of clinical education hours to gain hands-on experience working with patients under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
  • Licensure: After completing your PTA program, you will need to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for PTAs to become licensed to practice as a PTA.
  • Continuing education is also required for PTAs to maintain their license and stay up to date with advances in the field. PTAs may choose to pursue additional certifications and training to specialize in certain areas of physical therapy, such as geriatrics or sports medicine.

Overall, becoming a PTA requires a combination of classroom and clinical education, as well as licensure and continuing education to maintain your skills and knowledge.

Go to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) for more licensing requirements.

What areas can Physical Therapist Assistants specialize in?

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) can specialize in various areas of physical therapy based on their interests and the needs of their patients. Here are some areas of specialization for PTAs:

  • Orthopedics: PTAs who specialize in orthopedics work with patients who have musculoskeletal injuries or conditions such as fractures, sprains, and arthritis. They help patients improve their mobility, strength, and flexibility through exercises and other interventions prescribed by a licensed physical therapist.
  • Neurology: PTAs who specialize in neurology work with patients who have neurological conditions
    such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, or Parkinson’s disease. They help patients improve their mobility, balance, and coordination, as well as manage other symptoms such as pain and spasticity.
  • Pediatrics: PTAs who specialize in pediatrics work with infants, children, and adolescents who have developmental delays, congenital conditions, or injuries. They help children improve their mobility, strength, and coordination, as well as promote
    age-appropriate development.
  • Geriatrics: PTAs who specialize in geriatrics work with older adults who have age-related conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis, or balance disorders. They help patients improve their mobility, strength, and balance, as well as promote independence and quality of life.
  • Sports medicine: PTAs who specialize in sports medicine work with athletes of all ages and levels to prevent and treat sports-related injuries. They may also help athletes improve their performance through strength and conditioning programs.

Overall, PTAs work under the supervision of licensed physical therapists and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to provide patient care. They may also need to obtain additional certifications or licenses to specialize in certain areas of physical therapy.

What setting can Physical Therapist Assistants work in?

Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) can work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Hospitals: PTAs can work in hospitals, where they assist physical therapists in providing care to patients who have suffered from
    serious injuries, illnesses, or surgeries.
  • Outpatient clinics: PTAs can work in outpatient clinics, where they help physical therapists provide treatment for patients with
    musculoskeletal disorders, neurological conditions, and other injuries.
  • Rehabilitation centers: PTAs can work in rehabilitation centers, where they provide therapy to patients who are recovering from
    injuries or illnesses and help them regain their mobility and independence.
  • Skilled nursing facilities: PTAs can work in skilled nursing facilities, where they help elderly patients and individuals with disabilities
    maintain their mobility and prevent falls.
  • Schools: PTAs can work in schools, where they help children with disabilities or injuries participate in physical education and other
  • Home health care: PTAs can work in home health care, where they provide therapy to patients in their homes.

Overall, PTAs can work in a variety of settings, depending on their interests and specialties. They work closely with physical therapists
to provide hands-on care to patients and help them achieve their therapy goals.