Physical Therapist Assistant Job Description

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Physical Therapist Assistant Job Description

As the name suggests, a physical therapist assistant is a medical expert who carries out his duties under a physical therapist. His duties comprise most of the secondary tasks of a physical therapist…

Out of the wide range of medical jobs, a career as a physical therapist is an important one. This medical expert does the job of employing various physical therapy techniques to help patients get over their physical disabilities and pain. Since every primary medical expert needs the help of an assistant, a physical therapist is also not an exception. A Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) is one who helps the therapist in his day-to-day work. A majority of the duties he performs are included in the physical therapist job description.

Job Description of a Physical Therapist Assistant

Their primary task is to help patients reduce or get rid of pain and increase mobility caused by any kind of injury or disorder. All tasks required for this purpose are carried out under the supervision of a physical therapist. The treatment procedures that are used mostly consist of massage therapies, physical exercises, and application of heat, cold, water, and light.

If a physical therapist assistant works with physically disabled patients who find it difficult to walk, he has to guide them in walking using wheelchairs, artificial limbs, crutches, and other supportive equipment. These medical professionals prepare equipment and ready patients for treatments and diagnosis by the physical therapist. He has to make sure the treatment areas are hygienic, and all the equipment is up and running.

A physical therapist has to administer traction devices on a patient in order to reduce pain in the neck and back. He has to secure patients and their body parts onto or in therapy devices for appropriate results. If patients have a respiratory problem, he suggests certain breathing exercises. He instructs and assists patients before, during, and after exercises. A PTA even has to communicate with patients and therapists about treatment schedules and requirements.

He may have to discuss with the physical therapist regarding any specifications for modifying treatment plans and exercises. He has to keep a record of patients’ condition before the treatment, note down progress, and inform the physical therapist about the same. Along with all these clinical duties, they also have to carry out administrative duties of the facility. This includes keeping a track of the inventory and supplies, ordering new equipment, acting as a receptionist, recording patient details, and doing all paperwork for treatments.


If you are planning to become a physical therapist assistant, you need to at least hold a high school diploma, as this is a minimum requirement by the employer. Some employers provide on-the-job training for these specialists. The next step is to complete an accredited physical therapist assistant program of two years duration, after which you will be awarded with an associate’s degree. You can find over 200 such programs administered by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

You should also hold a certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to progress in the career. There are some states which have licensing regulations for practicing as a physical therapist assistant. For obtaining a license, you need to be a graduate and complete the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE). Given below is a table that will show you the approximate per annum physical therapy assistant salary.

Salary Range

Years of Experience Median Salary Scale
0 to One Year $31,000 – $44,000
One to Four Years $32,500 – $45,500
Five to Nine Years $39,500 – $52,500
10 to 19 Years $43,500 – $62,500
Over 20 Years $45,000 – $67,000

State of Employment Median Salary Scale
New York $35,500 – $46,500
California $39,500 – $58,000
Texas $40,500 – $57,500
Florida $37,500 – $55,000
Illinois $41,000 – $51,500

City of Employment Median Salary Scale
New York City $23,500 – $43,500
Dallas $36,400 – $69,500
Las Vegas $43,500 – $64,500
Charlotte $39,300 – $66,000
Baltimore $41,000 – $64,000

Remember that the duties of a physical therapist assistant may vary according to the facility of employment; such as a big hospital, a nursing home, or a small clinic. In order to obtain complete details regarding education and licensing requirements, it is suggested to visit your state’s licensing board.

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