A career as a physical therapy aide requires a high school diploma or GED and on-the-job training. Physical therapy aides are not required to be licensed or certified. They may opt to take a general physical therapy aide course, which could include information about the ethical and legal issues in the profession, medical terminology and basic anatomy.
Physical therapy aides support the physical therapists and physical therapy assistants by completing clerical tasks, transporting patients and maintaining treatment areas. Aides typically receive on-the-job training and do not need licensure or certification because they do not perform therapeutic tasks. They are employed in a variety of settings, including outpatient clinics, nursing facilities and hospitals.
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED certificate plus on-the-job training|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*||23%|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$26,240|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Physical Therapy Aide Licensure Information
Physical therapy aides assist with patient care under the direct supervision of a licensed physical therapist or physical therapy assistant. They organize and keep the treatment area clean prior to a patient's treatment session and could physically transport patients to, from and within the treatment facility. Other responsibilities generally include clerical work, such as ordering office supplies and physical therapy equipment, answering phones, scheduling appointments and managing insurance claim forms for patients. Due to the non-medical nature of the profession, physical therapy aides do not require licensure or any special academic preparation in any state.
States do mandate licensure for physical therapists and physical therapy assistants. Those who perform therapeutic treatments or work directly with patients must receive sufficient training and obtain a state license. Physical therapy assistants who also perform the job duties of an aide usually must complete a 2-year associate degree program. Physical therapists must earn a graduate degree in physical therapy. Both of these professions mandate licensure, which requires taking the National Physical Therapy Examination and any other state-regulated tests.
Physical Therapy Aide Credentials
Like licensure, professional certification or credentials are also not required for physical therapy aides. However, they can attend a course designed to educate them about the role of a physical therapy aide as part of a rehabilitation team. These courses might also cover ethical and legal issues affecting the physical therapy profession, medical terminology and basic anatomy. In some instances, employers might require a physical therapy aid to obtain CPR or basic life support certification through the American Heart Association.
Those interested in advancing a career to become a physical therapist could qualify for specialist credentials offered by the American Physical Therapy Association. Certifications require licensure as a physical therapist and at least 2,000 hours of clinical experience. Credentials exist for those who specialize in such areas as women's health, geriatrics, pediatrics and neurology.
Physical Therapy Aide Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a job growth increasing as much faster than the national average through 2028. In May 2018, the BLS reported that professionals in the 90th percentile or higher earned $39,230 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $20,040 or less per year.
Physical therapy aides provide support to physical therapists and physical therapy assistants by performing support tasks, such as completing clerical work and transporting patients. They may work in clinics, hospitals or nursing facilities.