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Physical Therapist's Aide: Job Outlook & Requirements

Explore the work responsibilities of a physical therapist's aide. Learn about employment growth, educational prerequisites and salary to make an informed career decision.

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Career Definition for a Physical Therapist's Aide

A physical therapist's aide works to ensure that both patient and physical therapist maximize their session together. This means keeping the therapy area clean, restocking supplies, helping non-ambulatory patients with wheelchair transport and performing clerical tasks, such as answering the phone or assisting patients with insurance forms. Physical therapist aides do not carry out clinical procedures.

Education Requirements High school diploma
Required Skills People skills, computer skills, strength, stamina and knowledge of good body mechanics
Career Outlook (2014 to 2024)* 39% growth
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $25,120

Source: U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

While most training occurs on the job, physical therapist aides must have a high school diploma. Computer literacy is highly desirable, since most patient and insurance records are now digital.

Skills Required

A physical therapist's aide should have excellent people skills, both in person and on the phone. This job also requires strength, stamina and an awareness of good body mechanics to help move or lift patients.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) estimates that openings for physical therapist aides will grow 39% during the years 2014 to 2024. This is an entry-level job, however, so the applicant pool is expected to keep pace with or surpass demand. Physical therapist's aides earned a median annual salary of $25,120 in May 2015.

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Alternative Careers

Other relevant careers in healthcare include:

Physical Therapist (PT) Assistant

For those who want to participate more in actual patient therapy, a career as a physical therapist assistant could be the right fit. Under the supervision of a physical therapist, PT assistants help patients with exercise and stretching techniques, perform massage procedures, answer therapy-related questions, record progress and educate patients about using walkers and other medical equipment. An associate degree in physical therapy is generally necessary to work in this field, and with the exception of Hawaii, all states require licensing through examination. As seen in BLS predictions, a 41% increase in employment of physical therapist assistants is expected to occur from 2014 to 2024. These assistants should earn a median income of $55,170, based on 2015 BLS statistics.

Medical Assistant

If providing administrative support in addition to performing basic medical tasks is of interest, becoming a medical assistant should be considered. Medical assistants work in doctor's offices or clinics, helping with patient scheduling, records management and preparing lab specimens. They also may interact with patients when measuring vital signs or giving shots. A high school diploma may open up some employment opportunities, but most medical assistants earn a certificate from an accredited training program at a community college or vocational school. Although not required, professional certification is desirable to some employers. Between 2014 and 2024, much faster-than-average job growth is predicted for medical assistants, according to the BLS. In May of 2015, the BLS also determined that these professionals earned a median wage of $30,590.

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