Benefits of a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Career

There are many reasons you should consider a career in physical therapy.

Make a Difference. "I feel that this career has allowed me to help my patients, community, and fellow staff members. When choosing a profession, I was looking for options that would allow me to make a difference while having the freedom to do different things. I feel that I've found that by being a PTA," said Julie Meseck, PTA. Whether the patient's problem is a result of injury or disease, the physical therapist assistant is an important part of the rehabilitation team dedicated to returning the patient to maximal function. Physical therapist assistants also work with individuals to prevent loss of mobility through implementing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist.

Be a Movement Expert. Physical therapist assistants receive an intensive 2-year (usually 5 semesters) education in human movement and physical function. Physical therapy is an essential element of patient care to promote the patient's ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Depending on the particular needs of a patient, physical therapists may choose to utilize a PTA to provide therapeutic exercise, functional training, or soft tissue massage. PTAs may also provide electrotherapy, ultrasound, and other treatments when included in the physical therapist's plan of care for the patient.

Enjoy Job Security. For individuals looking for a rewarding career in a struggling job market and down economy, a career in physical therapy could be the perfect answer. The soaring demand for physical therapist assistants can be attributed to the aging population, particularly baby boomers who are more vulnerable to chronic and debilitating conditions that require physical therapy services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for physical therapist assistants is expected to spike upward by an astonishing 35% between 2008 and 2018-a much quicker rate than average. As of 2010, there are approximately 63,800 licensed/certified physical therapist assistants working in the United States, and that number is expected to jump to 85,000 over the next 10 years.

Love Your Job. Helping people to attain or regain the ability to walk and carry out daily life can lead to a great feeling of personal satisfaction. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wages of PTAs in May 2008 were over $46,000 with the highest salaries in home health care services and nursing care facilities. Physical therapy services are typically offered during normal working hours, which contributes to life balance for many PTAs.

Choose Your Location. Physical therapist assistants work with patients of all ages all across the country. Choose from a wide range of locations and work settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, employer settings, and nursing homes.

Expand Your Skills. Many PTAs expand their responsibilities in the clinical setting by assuming additional knowledge, skills, and responsibilities in medical billing and coding, clinical management, education, quality improvement, and risk management.

  • Last Updated: 3/28/2013
  • Contact: pta@apta.org
  • Members Only = Members Only
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