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Who are PT's & PTA's?

Physical Therapists (PT’s)

Physical therapists, or PT’s, 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. More than 120,000 physical therapists are licensed in the U.S. today, treating nearly 1 million people every day. The median annual income for a physical therapist is $75,000 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?

Professional physical therapist education programs currently are offered at 2-degree levels: Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree and Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) or Master of Science in Physical Therapy (MSPT) Degree. The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) will require all programs to offer the DPT degree effective December 31, 2015.

Physical Therapist Assistants (PTA’s)

Physical therapist assistants or PTA’s, 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?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average annual wage for physical therapist assistants was $52,320 in 2012. Wages will vary depending on position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic location, and practice setting.

Where do physical therapist assistants work?

Physical therapist assistants work in hospitals, private physical therapy offices, community health centers, corporate or industrial health centers, sports facilities, research institutions, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health agencies, schools, pediatric centers and colleges and universities.

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 234 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, 49 states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed, registered, or certified. States requiring licensure stipulate specific educational and examination criteria. In Texas, PTA program graduates must pass a state-administered national exam and must be licensed by the state. 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 Examiner

Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy

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