Physical Therapist Assistant

By: Jake Bartshe

Description of Occupation

  • Physical Therapist assistants (PTAs) are under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist and are the only providers of physical therapy services.
  • Physical Therapists rely on the PTA to assure that all patients/clients have access to physical therapy services.

Certifications Necessary

  • After graduating from an accredited physical therapy education program candidates must pass a state-administered national exam to obtain licensure or certification required in most states

Daily Activities

  • The physical therapist assistants work closely with supervising physical therapists to provide quality, evidence-based patient/client care. Once the physical therapist has completed the patient examination and a diagnosis has been determined, the physical therapist designs a plan of care that includes short- and long-term functional goals.

Education Requirements

  • Graduate from an accredited physical therapy education program and pass the state-administered national exam called the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE)


  • The bottom 10% made $31,000 a year
  • The average made $54,000 a year
  • The top 90% made $75,000 a year

Skills Necessary

  • The ability to safely bend, twist, and lift to assist a patient moving from one surface to another
  • The ability to handle the emotional stress of working with patients in need of compassionate health care
  • The ability to read and comprehend patient information

Job Setting

  • The vast majority of PTAs, approximately 72%, work in hospitals or privately owned physical therapy practices. Others work in home health, schools, and rehab units.

Fun Facts

  • The first physical therapists during World War I were actually called “reconstruction aides”
  • The field of physical therapy was initially a female dominant profession
  • When World War II occurred, due to the advances in science and technology more injured soldiers were surviving and their various musculoskeletal injuries were treated by physical therapists