Physical Therapy Aide – Job, Skills, Salary, & Career

Do you know you can get a job in a medical environment without a college degree? You can work as a physical therapy aide without any requirement of a college degree, you only need a high school diploma as the minimum requirement.

Working as a physical therapist aide is a job you can consider if you’re looking for a career that gives you the privilege to relate closely with fellow humans and have your own impact on them, either directly or indirectly. In this article, you’ll be learning about what a physical therapy aide’s job is like, and you’ll also be educated on the requirements necessary for you too to get such a job.

What is Physical Therapy Aide?

Physical therapy aide is a functioning part of the physical therapy team.  The primary role of a physical therapists aide is to assist the physical therapist and the physical therapy assistant in some functions that are not directly connected to the patients. Instead of relating closely with patients, as a physical therapists aide, you work by assisting in cleaning the clinic, and keeping it organized.

Also, you must ensure all the treatment equipment is clean, organized and well kept. You’ll also be responsible for preparing the treatment area ahead of a physical therapy session, and then after the session, you ensure the treatment area is cleaned up. You’ll also function in setting up therapy equipment for therapy sessions, and also in preparing the patients for therapy.

As a physical therapy aide, you can work in hospital environments, nursing homes, private therapy clinics, rehab centers, doctors’ offices, or other healthcare facilities. Your major function is to assist the physical therapist.

Careers in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Careers in physical therapy and rehabilitation include, but not limited to, the following:

Physical Therapy Aide: The physical therapy aide functions by assisting the physical therapists and physical therapy assistants in non-medical functions. They function by ensuring the treatment area is clean and organized after use. Sometimes, they also have contact with patients, but it is limited. They help in moving patients for treatments under the supervision of the physical therapist.

Physical Therapy Assistant: A physical therapy assistant assists the physical therapist in some functions. The physical therapy assistant is directly involved in interacting with the patients. They function by helping patients to do some exercises, massaging them when necessary, and by communicating the conditions of the patients directly to the physical therapist. They also help in educating the patients and family members on other important things to be aware of once the treatment is completed.

Physical Therapy Technician: The physical therapy technician supports the physical therapist and the physical therapy assistant in the administrative area of work. They relate closely with the patients by communicating with them and their family members, and also respond to their questions and all concerns. They also help in preparing patients for treatment and then positioning them after the treatment. In their administrative function, they oversee daily operations in the office, take records and receive new patients, and also fix appointments with them.

Rehab Aide: Doing rehab aide jobs entails preparing therapy sessions for patients and also ensuring an organized and clean treatment area is maintained. They also assist in taking administrative roles. They help in cleaning treatment equipment and also in performing routine tasks that are non-clinical.

Medical Assistant: A medical assistant functions by playing an intermediary role between the patients and doctor. Unlike a physical therapist that can diagnose and treat patients, under meticulous supervision of a physician, a medical assistant can only communicate closely with patients. The role a medical assistant performs varies with respect to their level of experience, they communicate directly with patients, under the supervision of doctors or other medical experts. They interact with patients by administering medications, giving injections, and preparing patients for x-rays.

Physical Therapy Aide Duties & Responsibilities

  • Cleaning the work area and treatment equipment, ensuring they are well organized.
  • Examining the responses of patients to treatments, and making notes on them.
  • Performing clerical functions, such as taking phone calls, ordering supplies, closing appointment deals, taking inventories, etc.
  • Assisting the physical therapy assistant in functions like massaging, moving or lifting of patients during therapy sessions.
  • They also help in feeding and bathing patients on occasions that require such services.

Worklife of a Physical Therapy Aide

  • Work schedule of a physical therapy aide: The daily functions of a physical therapy aide include: cleaning and organizing the work area, setting up therapy equipment before use and disinfecting them after treatment. Their functions are not limited to this, but they communicate, a great deal, how their daily life looks like.
  • In a typical day, a physical therapy aide also functions by monitoring the functions of the treatment equipment and ensuring they are still in good working conditions. They also assist in instructing the patients during physical exercises. Adding to that, they also assist the physical therapist in patient care tasks like feeding and bathing of patients, changing of their bedsheets and pillowcases, etc.
  • Work environment: Most physical therapists work in offices of physicians, hospitals, nursing care facilities or delivering home healthcare services.

Physical Therapy Aide’s Salary

According to recruiter.com, a physical therapy aide’s annual salary is determined using industry expertise as yardstick. Their pay ranges between $20,500 and $41,000 per year. So, on average, a physical therapist receives about $30,000 median annual salary.

Also, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual wage of a physical therapy aide is dependent on the industry, and also, geographical location. The least in the industry receives an annual mean wage of $28,300, while the highest-paid receives about $44,370 annual mean wage. Employees working in a nursing care facility work environment are paid a median annual salary of $34,500.

How to Become Physical Therapy Aide – Education, Training, & Certification

The basic requirement for becoming a physical therapy aide is to first obtain a physical therapy aide certificate. This means you must have undergone a series of training, and have taken the required courses before you are qualified for such a position.

Before you apply for a physical therapy aide job role, these are the steps you’ll need to take:

  1. Acquire a high school diploma: Before you can be considered for physical therapy aide jobs, you must have graduated from high school and have acquired a diploma, this is the minimum requirement for physical therapy aide jobs.

Obtaining a college degree is not compulsory before you can get a physical therapy aide job, but it boosts your qualification if you have it. However, if you’ll be using your college degree in the application process, the required education is a bachelor degree in physical therapy, kinesiology, or other similar areas of study.

  1. Register for a physical therapy aide’s program: Some physical therapy aide jobs will require you to enroll in a physical therapy aide program and complete the necessary courses. In the program, you will be equipped with basic work ethics and will be made acclimated with the work environment. Most times, the program takes two months or less to complete.

In some other work environments, enrolling in a physical therapy aide program is not a prerequisite to obtaining the job position. With your high school certificate, you can be considered for a position with them, and there you receive on-the-job training with them while you begin work.

  1. Become certified by taking a professional examination: To boost your qualification, you can go ahead to obtain a Physical Therapy Aide/Technician Certification (PTTC) by taking their courses and writing the qualifying examination.

Physical Therapy Aide’s Skills & Competencies

As a physical therapy aide or an aspiring physical therapy aide, there are some core skills that you must possess before you can function effectively in a medical work area.

Listed below are some of the skills:

Patient care: As a physical therapy aide, you will be involved in functions like feeding and bathing patients. So, you must be someone that is passionate about helping and caring for people.

Customer service: You should be good at attending to customers, negotiating, responding to calls, and receiving new people.

Good communication skills: Holding communication in high esteem is very important for anyone interested in going for a physical therapy aide role. Value speaking with customers, patients and other medical staff members.

Detail-oriented: Ensure you pay attention to every detail when delivering tasks. Be meticulous enough while attending to projects in order to avoid unprecedented mistakes.

Empathy: You should have empathy for fellow humans, and be passionate about seeing them healthy. Your fulfillment should be in their good health.

Physical strength: One of the secondary roles of a physical therapist’s aide is to assist the physical therapy assistant in moving and lifting patients, so, you must be prepared for this.

Soft skills like time management: Time management is a skill every goal-oriented individual must master. As a physical therapy aide, you must learn how to manage your time judiciously and attend to every function of each day.

Physical Therapy Aide Job Facts and Statistics

  • Job Outlook: There is an increase in the demand for this job role. On average, over the past decade, about 24,000 job openings are made available for the roles of physical therapy aides and assistants, every year. So, in the next ten years, there’s a high tendency that openings for this job role will grow by 32% (from 2020 to 2030) more rapidly than other job positions.
  • The physical therapy aide job is one of the few jobs that do not require a college degree. This job proves that you can still get a high-paying job after skipping your high school degree. In 2021, US News ranks Physical Therapy Aide Jobs as #9 in the best jobs without a college degree. The minimum requirement is a high school certificate.
  • Another interesting fact about this job position is that the physical therapy aide employment rates and salaries range from state to state. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, in 2020, US states like Alaska, Minnesota, Idaho, Massachusetts, and Vermont were the most paid, while states like New Jersey, California, Florida, New York, and Texas had the highest employment rates.
  • Amongst the various health care support jobs like personal care aide, physical therapy assistant, dental hygienist, surgical technologist, medical assistant, etc, physical therapy aide jobs are ranked #11 in the best health care support jobs by the US News.
  • There are other interesting things to discover about this job. Apart from the fact that you can get the job without a college degree, and that it is ranked one of the best health care support jobs, it also makes the list of the 100 best jobs as ranked by the US News. Considering the job pay, the talents and skills required, the work life, privileges to advance, and other considerable features, physical therapy aide jobs are ranked #66 in the 100 best jobs.

Physical Therapy Aide Career Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Working in this job position gives you the privilege to have an impact on a fellow human. Because as humans, we derive contentment from helping others and seeing them thrive.
  • The salary is nice. So, you can be getting well paid, above average, while you do what you enjoy doing.
  • Good for people who enjoy working indoors.

Cons

  • The job is taxing. Most physical therapists’ aides work full time. Some even work at night and on weekends. So, you must learn how to manage stress.
  • Physical therapists aides are prone to sustaining back injuries because their job entails lifting and moving patients.
  • You are most time independent, because you must work under supervision.

Answers to Related Questions

How to get a job as a Physical Therapy Aide?

The minimum requirement for getting a job as a physical therapist is a high school diploma. If you do not have a high school diploma, you can process a GED test.

For additional qualifications, you can enroll in a physical therapist aide program, complete their courses, and be certified. This is enough for you to get the job.

How much do physical therapy techs make?

According to ZipRecruiter, a Physical therapy technician earns an average of $25,600 per year and an average of $12 per hour.

What are the differences between a Physical Therapist Assistant and Physical Therapy Aide?

The physical therapy aide and the physical therapy assistant oftentimes work together, but there are some differences in the roles they perform. The major difference is that a physical therapy aide has limited interactions with patients while a physical therapy assistant interacts more closely with the patients.

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Conclusion

Working as a physical therapist aide is quite interesting and, at the same time, engaging. As you focus on the tasks assigned to you and are always open to assisting the physical therapist on other tasks, you’ll have a great ride in your workplace.

If working in a medical work environment is your passion, never hesitate to enroll in a physical therapy aide job.

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Kalpataru Biswas

Kalpataru Biswas is a writer with a focus on business and career-related subjects. He has been writing for various websites since 2018 and has more than ten years of experience in driving revenue through data-driven Sales & Marketing.