Who are PTs and PTAs?

Who are Physical Therapists (PTs)?

Physical therapists, or PTs, are health care professionals who evaluate and treat people with health problems resulting from injury or disease. PTs assess joint motion, muscle strength and endurance, function of the heart and lungs, and performance of activities of daily living. Per the American Physical Therapy Association, more than 204,000 physical therapists are licensed in the U.S. today, treating over 1 million people every day. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income for a physical therapist in 2015 was $84,020 depending on position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic location, and practice setting.

Where do physical therapists practice?

Although many physical therapists practice in acute care or sub-acute care hospitals, more than 80% practice in private physical therapy offices, community health centers, industrial health centers, sports facilities, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health agencies, schools or pediatric centers; work in research institutions; or teach in colleges and universities.

What are the educational requirements for becoming a PT?

The minimum educational requirement is a doctorate degree (Bachelor's degree then Doctor of Physical Therapy degree) from an accredited education program. Currently, 233 colleges and universities nationwide offer professional physical therapist education programs. Visit APTA's PT Education Program's page for additional information.

What are the Licensure requirements for becoming a PT?

After graduation, candidates must pass a nationally administered exam. Other requirements for physical therapy practice vary from state to state according to physical therapy practice acts or state licensure boards. For a list of agencies see Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.

Who are Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs)?

Physical therapist assistants or PTAs, are skilled health care providers who work under the supervision of physical therapists. Duties of the PTA include assisting the physical therapist in implementing treatment programs, training patients in exercises and activities of daily living, conducting treatments, and reporting to the physical therapist on the patient's responses. In addition to direct patient care, the physical therapist assistant may also perform such functions as patient transport, and clinic or equipment preparation and maintenance.

What do physical therapist assistants earn?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports PTAs in 2015 had an average annual earnings in the United States of $55,250 and the 2015 average annual earnings in Texas was $72,820.  Average starting salaries for new graduates in the local area are between $43,000 - $53,000 a year.  There are considerable geographic differences in salaries.

Where do physical therapist assistants work?

Opportunities exist in a wide variety of practice settings.  PTAs may work in: hospitals, private physical therapy offices, research institutions, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health agencies, schools, pediatric centers and colleges and universities; rehabilitation facilities; out-patient clinics; skilled nursing, extended care or sub-acute facilities; homes; schools; hospices; education or research centers; industrial, workplace, or other occupational environments; and community health centers such as fitness centers, corporate or industrial centers, and sports training facilities.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of PTAs is expected to grow by 40% (Much faster than average) from 2014 through 2024.  

What are the educational requirements for becoming a PTA?

To work as a physical therapist assistant (PTA), an individual must graduate with an associate degree (two years, usually five semesters) from an accredited PTA program at a technical or community college, college, or university. There are currently 340 accredited physical therapist assistant education programs throughout the country. Visit APTA's PTA Education Program's page for additional information.

What are the Licensure requirements for becoming a PTA?

Currently, more than 45 states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed, registered, or certified. States requiring licensure stipulate specific educational and examination criteria. Information on practice acts and regulations may be obtained by contacting the licensure board in your state.

The Executive Council of Physical Therapy & Occupational Therapy Examiners

Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy