What is a Physical Therapist Assistant?

The Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) is an important member of the dynamic profession of physical therapy. PTAs are licensed health care providers working under the supervision of a Physical Therapist. PTAs must complete a 2-year associate's degree and are licensed in most states.  PTAs help people of all ages who have medical problems, or other health-related conditions that limit their ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTAs work in a variety of settings including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health, nursing homes, schools, sports facilities, and more. Care provided by a PTA may include teaching patients/clients exercise for mobility, strength and coordination, training for activities such as walking with crutches, canes, or walkers, massage, and the use of physical agents and electrotherapy such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation.


Students who successfully complete the program are eligible to take the National Physical Therapist Assistant Licensing Examination. Students must be licensed in order to practice in most states. Students may visit the website for theFederation of State Boards for Physical Therapy andAmerican Physical Therapy Association.

Where do Physical Therapist Assistants work?

Today, physical therapist assistants provide health care services to patients of all ages and health conditions in a variety of settings, including:

  • Outpatient clinics or offices
  • Hospitals
  • Inpatient rehabilitation facilities
  • Skilled nursing, extended care, or sub acute facilities
  • Homes
  • Education or research centers
  • Schools
  • Hospices
  • Industrial, workplace, or other occupational environments
  • Fitness centers and sports training facilities

What do Physical Therapist Assistants earn?

The median income for a physical therapist assistant is $46,000, depending on position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic losation, and practice setting.

What is the employment outlook for Physical Therapist Assistants?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is expected to grow much faster than average because of increasing demand for physical therapy services.  Job prospects for physical therapist assistants are expected to be very good.  The American Physical Therapy Association's most recent data indicate an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent.