PT & PTA Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find the most common questions people considering a career in physical therapy or physical therapy assisting have. For detailed information about becoming a PT or PTA in your state, please visit your individual state page.

What is Physical Therapy?

Simply put, physical therapy is the treatment used to help patients recover from injuries and disabilities and improve the functioning of their musculoskeletal system with the use of physical methods. Many patients are recommended to see a physical therapist after their medical treatment is complete. Such treatment is necessary in the case of injuries such as strains, sprains and fractures, for chronic conditions such as arthritis and for birth conditions like cerebral palsy.

Physical therapists are the health care professionals responsible for diagnosing physical dysfunctions in patients, setting treatment goals and devising treatment plans. With the help of physical therapy assistants, therapists use a wide range of techniques to help patients. These include heat and cold application, massage, hydrotherapy and electro-stimulation therapy. Different kinds of devices are used to assist patients in performing exercises for improving the condition of and strengthening their muscles, bones and joints.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

The job of therapists involves several important aspects. Their primary task is to diagnose the physical dysfunction of the patient. Once this is done, they develop a comprehensive treatment program. This program involves various therapies which are performed by the specialist or under their supervision. It is also their job to monitor the progress of the patient and to provide information, guidance and advice to them.

These professionals work with patients of all ages and with various types of problems. They are often part of a bigger medical team. This is especially the case when they work in hospitals and nursing care facilities.

How Do You Become a Physical Therapist?

You need to earn a physical therapy degree first. There are accredited physical therapy programs leading to doctoral degree and ones leading to master’s degree. After earning your bachelor’s degree, you can focus on selecting between the best physical therapy schools with accreditation. There are various accredited schools across the United States to select from.

You can readily find all accredited programs on the official website of the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). You can readily do some more research to identify the best physical therapy schools in your state and in the country as a whole.

After graduating from one of the accredited physical therapy schools you need to earn a state license that will allow you to practice this professional in your state. The licensure requirements vary from one state to another. Most often, graduates are required to take the National Physical Therapy Examination. In order to practice the profession, you will need a state license. Most states require you to have passed the National Physical Therapy Examination of the American Physical Therapy Association in order to earn a license, but you need to check with your state for specific regulations and licensing information.

After obtaining a license, you can join a private practice, start working in a hospital or a nursing care facility or enter the home health care service industry. Specialization options are readily available to therapists with experience. You can specialize in the treatment of children or elderly patients or in sports physical therapy.

The healthcare occupations are becoming more and more attractive due to the greater demand for medical services and the innovative technologies used and physical therapy is no exception. The logical question to ask is whether the physical therapy salary that you will earn meets your expectations. Factors like your interest in the profession and your performance at school matter when it comes to choosing a career, but remuneration is undoubtedly of utmost importance.

How Much Is the Physical Therapy Salary?

According to the latest data officially announced by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for physical therapist is $81,110. The lowest 10 per cent of earners make $55,620 per year while the top 10 per cent of earners have a mean annual remuneration of $112,020. The gap can be explained with a number of factors. The main ones include experience on the job, employer and location.

Professionals who have just graduated from physical therapy schools can expect to be in the lower 10 to 25 per cent of earners and make between $55,000 and $66,000 a year. You will need around ten years of experience on average to reach the mean for the occupation. Your remuneration will depend on who you work for as well.

The therapists employed in private practices have a mean annual physical therapy salary of $79,180. Those employed in hospitals make around $80,060 per year. The ones who work in nursing facilities have a mean annual wage of $85,810. The therapists that provide home services earn a mean salary of $90,440 per year.

At present, the state with the highest mean annual physical therapy salary is Nevada. This dream remuneration is $110,670. Nevada is followed by Alaska where the mean annual wage is $89,950. The third spot is taken by New Jersey where the mean annual pay is $89,830. The top paying metropolitan areas are Las Vegas-Paradise in Nevada, Fairbanks in Alaska and Jacksonville in Florida. The mean annual wages there are $117,130, $109,370 and $106,790.

More information on becoming a physical therapy assistant

If you want to be a physical therapy assistant, you must graduate from one of the accredited PTA schools. Currently, you can select from nearly 280 programs leading to an associate’s degree which have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Graduating from a CAPTE-approved school will allow you to earn a license to practice this occupation in any state in the US.

There are both private and state PTA schools. There are considerable differences between the two even though you can expect them to have similar curriculums. Private schools usually have smaller classes, lower student to faculty ratio and better equipped classrooms and other training facilities such as laboratories. These schools typically have higher tuition fees as well.

All accredited physical therapy assistant schools offer similar PTA programs. The standard program takes two years to complete. Graduates obtain an associate’s degree. The main subjects in the curriculum include anatomy and physiology, exercise therapies, rehabilitation methods, kinesiology, neurology, medical terminology and patient care. In the first year of their professional education, future physical therapy assistants study English and algebra as well.

Each and every program includes clinical practice. You will receive training in a real-life setting such as a hospital, a nursing home or a rehabilitation center for sports injuries. As part of the clinical practice, you will work with patients under the direction and supervision of an experienced PTA and a physical therapist.

Choosing between PTA schools is not an easy task. You need to take into account individual factors when making a choice. You have to figure out where you want to study and where you would like to work after graduation. You need to ensure that the school which you have picked will give you the best chances of securing employment after graduation. Consider factors such as the faculty and student to faculty ratio, facilities and licensure examination success rate and employment rate of the graduating class. Ensure that you can afford to pay the tuition fees and check available opportunities for financing.

Learn about physical therapy assistant training suitable for students who cannot attend school full-time. There are PTA schools offering part-time classes. In some cases, online learning can be an option as well. Just keep in mind that you will have to attend the clinical practice part of the course in person in a facility specified by the respective school.

Graduates from PTA schools can expect to find a job fairly easily given the growing demand for physical therapists. At the same time, the mean physical therapy assistant salary is $51,110 per year and is expected to increase in the future.
You can select from hundreds of accredited physical therapy assistant programs throughout the US. These are quite popular thanks to the growing number of PTA jobs and the good PTA salary ($51,110 per year on average). Use this guide to consider all important factors before choosing a program and applying for it.

You must select and apply to accredited physical therapy assistant programs only since only graduates from such programs are eligible for obtaining a license for practicing this occupation. You can find a list of the physical therapy assistant schools accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) via the official website of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). You can perform a search by state as well for convenience.
All physical therapy assistant programs lead to an associate’s degree. The curricula of the accredited programs vary slightly, but they all include similar subjects and clinical practice. There are different types of programs based on the class schedule and the method of teaching. Students who work can select from part-time programs which usually have classes in the evenings and/or weekends. Enrolling in an online program is also an option. You will study from home and attend in person only the clinical practice.
The cost of education varies considerably between the different physical therapy assistant schools. The tuition fee can be as low as $5,000 per year and as high as $25,000. The typical program lasts for 2 years. Students studying part-time or online may be given more time to complete the program, but typically they pay slightly lower fees. It is important to note that financial aid is readily available. Consider the different options such as student loans, federal and state grants and scholarships.
Physical therapy assistant degrees should not be difficult to earn. You can expect to study fairly complex subjects such as kinesiology and neurology and to have extensive practical training which involves assisting patients in performing various therapeutic exercises and carrying out different kinds of therapies. However, if you are motivated and study hard, you will certainly do well.

You need to keep in mind that some physical therapy assistant programs are harder to get in than others. In general, the number of competitive PT schools is growing due to the growing number of jobs for physical therapy assistants. Hence, if you want to get in, you should have good high school grades. Applicants who have taken a science subject at a higher level have better chances of getting accepted.

More PTA Salary Info

Physical therapy is a career that is currently in high demand and is growing quickly. Physical therapists treat people who are injured or ill and help them manage pain and regain joint movement that may have been lost from a recent injury. Physical therapists are widely during rehabilitation programs and to treat chronic injuries. Due to high demand, physical therapy salary remains high.

How much does a physical therapist make? Pta salary is typically dependent on a variety of factors. Education is one of the most important factors that determine physical therapy salary. Most physical therapists have a doctoral degree in physical therapy. It is also a requirement in every state for the PT to be licensed in each individual state. To be licensed as a physical therapist, a potential PT must sit for and successfully pass a physical therapist exam. Pta salary will also depend on experience and reputation. Reputation is especially important for independent physical therapists. According to studies, in May 2010, the median annual for a PT was $76,310, which correlates to about $37 per hour. This was about 30% more than the national average of job postings in the U.S.
Many physical therapists require trained assistants to help them tend to patients. Physical therapy assistants typically report to a licensed physical therapist and perform a variety of support tasks. As a result, assistants need to be trained and educated by an accredited program. Typically, an associate degree is required. Physical therapy assistant salary is also dependent on education and experience. The median annual salary for a physical therapy assistant is $46,627. Physical therapy assistant salary is slightly above the national average of job postings in the U.S.