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Physical Therapist Aide: Career Information

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Job Description:

A physical therapist aide (PT Aide) is part of a rehabilitation team that is tasked with the job of restoring patients' mobility and function. Working under the supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant, he or she tends to tasks that are not directly related to patient care. Although an aide may not deliver therapeutic services, his or her job is to facilitate the delivery of these services by PTs and PT Assistants. For example, he or she prepares treatment rooms and escorts patients to them. A PT aide may also have clerical duties that keep the office running smoothly.

Employment Facts:

There were 47,000 physical therapist aides employed in 2010. More than half work in outpatient medical facilities, while a quarter have jobs in hospitals. A few are employed by nursing homes and other residential care facilities.

Physical therapist aides typically work full time although some part-time jobs are available. Their schedules often include evenings and weekend since that is when patients are available to receive treatment.

Educational Requirements:

To work as a physical therapist aide, one needs a high school or equivalency diploma. Once hired, he or she will be trained on-the-job.

Why Do You Need to Know About Educational Requirements?

Other Requirements:

Before you commit yourself to pursuing this occupation, it is important to assess whether you have the characteristics to succeed in it. Are you compassionate? You must enjoy caring for people. Do you have good interpersonal skills? You will spend a great deal of time interacting with others including patients and colleagues. If you don't enjoy that or aren't good at it, this isn't the career for you. Are you detail oriented? The quality of the care patients receive depends on all heath care workers' ability to keep accurate records and follow written instructions. Do you have good manual dexterity? You will need this trait in order to set up equipment and otherwise prepare treatment rooms. Do you have good physical stamina? Your work will involve long periods of standing and moving around.

Job Outlook:

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapist aides will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2020. The agency places it high on a list of the fastest growing occupations requiring only a high school diploma.

Why Do You Need to Know About Job Outlook?

Earnings:

Physical therapist aides earned a median annual salary of $23,680 and median hourly earning of $11.39 in 2011 (US).

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much a Physical Therapist Aide currently earns in your city.

A Day in a Physical Therapist Aide's Life:

On a typical day a physical therapist aide's tasks might include:

  • cleaning and organizing treatment rooms
  • preparing treatment areas for each patient's therapy session by setting up required equipment
  • following physical therapist's and physical therapist assistant's instructions
  • keeping records of treatment administered and equipment used
  • helping patients get ready for therapy
  • answering phone, taking inventory of supplies and placing orders for those needed, filing patient records and filling out forms

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapist-assistants-and-aides.htm (visited December 18, 2012).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Physical Therapist Aides, on the Internet at http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/31-2022.00 (visited December 18, 2012).

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