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Career Definition for a Therapeutic Health Technician
Therapeutic health technicians work with specialized therapists, such as occupational therapists and physical therapists, to help patients recover from disabling events, such as accidents and surgeries. These technicians also assist people with chronic disabilities and help them live as independently as possible. Technician tasks can include helping patients with exercises, positioning patients and bathing, dressing and cooking for patients. They may also be required to complete office duties, such as ordering supplies, scheduling appointments and billing patients.
|Required Education||High school diploma as minimum; postsecondary diploma, certificate or associate's degree additional options|
|Job Duties||Include helping patients with exercises; positioning, dressing and cooking for patients; office duties|
|Median Salary (2017)*|| $25,730 (physical therapy aides)
$29,200 (occupational therapy aides)
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*|| 29% growth (physical therapy aides)
25% (occupational therapy aides)
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
While many entry-level therapeutic health technology jobs require only a high school diploma, workers in this field may complete a postsecondary diploma, certificate or 2-year degree from a community or technical college. Programs in therapeutic health may include courses in massage, anatomy and physiology, medical office operations, medical terminology and rehabilitation techniques. An internship at a hospital, chiropractor's office, rehabilitation facility or physical therapist's office may be required.
Therapeutic health technicians must be capable of helping patients complete physical activities, which may require lifting patients and manipulating equipment used in therapy, such as walkers. They should be able to communicate effectively and should be patient and sympathetic to their patients' needs.
Career and Economic Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), while there is much faster-than-average job growth expected in the field of therapeutic health technology over the 2016-2026 decade; the field attracts a high number of qualified applicants, so competition for jobs may be somewhat strong. Also per the BLS, the median annual salary for physical therapy aides was $25,730 in 2017. The field is due to grow by 29% between 2016 and 2026, per the BLS. Occupational therapy aides made a median income of $29,200 that same year, and the field is predicted to grow by 25% between 2016 and 2026.
Alternate Career Options
Here are some examples of alternative career options:
Depending on the state, some techs can enter this profession with just a high school education and learn their skills on the job; most states require a licensing exam or completion of a formal postsecondary program. Pharmacy technicians work with licensed pharmacists to dispense prescriptions to health professionals and customers. The BLS projected faster-than-average employment growth of 12% during the 2016-2026 decade for this job, and the annual median salary in 2017 was $31,750.
This career's training requirements also vary by state, with some requiring only a high school education and others requiring postsecondary training programs followed by a licensure exam. From 2016-2026, the BLS predicted much faster-than-average job growth of 19% for dental assistants; these professionals had median earnings in 2017 of $37,630 per year.