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 learn 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 therapist’s 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 therapist’s 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.
You can work in hospital environments, nursing homes, private therapy clinics, rehab centers, doctors’ offices, or other healthcare facilities as a physical therapy aide. Your major function is to assist the physical therapist.
Careers in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation
Careers in physical therapy and rehabilitation include, but are not limited to, the following:
Physical Therapy Aide: The physical therapy aide assists the physical therapists and 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 move 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 do some exercises, massaging them when necessary, and communicating the patients’ conditions directly to the physical therapist. They also help educate 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 work area. 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 prepare patients for treatment and then position 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 clean treatment equipment and perform routine tasks that are non-clinical.
Medical Assistant: A medical assistant is an intermediary between patients and doctors. Unlike a physical therapist, that can diagnose and treat patients under the 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 patients during therapy sessions.
- They also help feed and bathe patients who 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 about their daily life.
- On a typical day, a physical therapy aide also monitors the treatment equipment’s functions and ensures they are still in good working condition. 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 patients, changing their bedsheets and pillowcases, etc.
- Work environment: Most physical therapists work in offices of physicians, hospitals, and nursing care facilities or deliver 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 a 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 depends on the industry and 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 first to obtain a physical therapy aide certificate. This means you must have undergone training and taken the required courses before being qualified for such a position.
Before you apply for a physical therapy aide job role, these are the steps you’ll need to take:
- 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 getting 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’s degree in physical therapy, kinesiology, or other similar areas of study.
- 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 to 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 you receive on-the-job training there while you begin work.
- 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 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 have been 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 ranked 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 employment rates and salaries of the physical therapy aide 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
- 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 get well paid, above average, while doing what you enjoy.
- Good for people who enjoy working indoors.
- 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 they lift and move patients.
- You are most time-independent because you must work under supervision.
Answers to Related Questions
The minimum requirement for getting a job as a physical therapist is a high school diploma. You can process a GED test if you do not have a high school diploma.
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.
According to ZipRecruiter, a Physical therapy technician earns an average of $25,600 per year and an average of $12 per hour.
The physical therapy aide and the physical therapy assistant often work together, but there are some differences in their roles. 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.
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.