Physical therapist assistants, sometimes called PTAs, and physical therapist aides work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain.
Most physical therapist assistants and aides work in physical therapists’ offices or in hospitals. Physical therapist assistants and aides are frequently on their feet and moving as they set up equipment and help care for patients.
How to Become a Physical Therapist Assistant or Aide
Physical therapist assistants entering the profession need an associate’s degree from an accredited program. All states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed or certified. Physical therapist aides usually have a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training.
Employment of physical therapist assistants and aides is projected to grow 40 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for physical therapy services is expected to increase in response to the healthcare needs of an older population and individuals with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity.
This occupation supported 121,400 jobs in 2012 and 128,699 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 6.0%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 40.7% in 2022 to 170,800 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 131,200, compared with an observed value of 128,699, 1.9% lower than expected. This indicates current employment trends are about on track with the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 42.4% in 2024 to 180,200 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 180,600 jobs for 2024, 0.2% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are about on track with the 2012 trend within this occupation.