Be a Physical Therapist Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a physical therapist technician. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in the healthcare field. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Physical Therapist Technician?

Physical therapist technicians, also known as physical therapy aides, assist physical therapists with patients who are undergoing rehabilitation for physical injuries. Some of their duties include transporting patients, organizing the treatment area and performing clerical tasks. This occupation can be physically demanding, since technicians set up equipment, move or lift patients and stand for many hours.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma
Experience On-the-job training that may last weeks or months
Key Skills Compassion, physical stamina, dexterity, interpersonal skills, attention to detail, familiarity with scheduling, medical, and spreadsheet software
Salary (2015) $25,120 per year (median annual salary for physical therapy aids)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET Online

Steps to Becoming a Physical Therapist Technician

Let's now take a look at the steps you'll have to take if you want to become a physical therapist technician.

Step 1: Meet Educational Requirements

High school courses in English and psychology can provide physical therapist aides with valuable knowledge needed on the job. Aides may also benefit from having a basic knowledge of procedures used to treat human injuries. A high school diploma is typically required for employment as a physical therapist aide.

Step 2: Get On-the-Job Training

Physical therapist aides typically learn clinical skills from on-the-job training. During job training, the physical therapist aide works with experienced employees in an instructional period that could last a few weeks or several months. Trainees learn how to perform such duties as setting up patient treatment areas and helping patients safely move from one area to another.

Success Tip:

Enroll in a training course. To supplement job training, individuals can enroll in a physical therapist aide course to increase their knowledge of the field.

Step 3: Consider Continuing Education

In order to advance, a physical therapy aide might consider qualifying to become a physical therapy assistant. While physical therapy aides do not need to complete a postsecondary education program in order to find work, physical therapy assistants are typically required to complete an accredited associate degree program in physical therapy assistance and gain state licensure.

As of May 2015, physical therapy assistants earned a median annual salary of about $55,000, while physical therapy aides earned a median annual wage of about $25,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Physical therapy assistants have more advanced responsibilities than physical therapy aides, such as helping complete treatment through stretching, massages, and exercise.

Physical therapist technicians should have a high school diploma and will gain on-the-job training, but might consider earning an associate's degree in order to advance to a more hands-on role as a physical therapy assistant.

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