Copyright

Physical Therapy Tech Career Info and Education Requirements

Physical therapy technicians assist in the physical rehabilitation of patients recovering from illness or injury. Job duties and educational requirements vary by employer. While a high school degree is sufficient for some physical therapy technician positions, others require completion of a 2-year degree program.

View 8 Popular Schools »

Career Information for Physical Therapy Technicians

Physical therapy technicians work under the supervision of licensed physical therapists. They may work in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities or rehabilitation centers. Depending on the employer, a physical therapy technician may be an unlicensed physical therapy aide who performs mainly clerical duties or a licensed physical therapy assistant (PTA) who provides patient care.

An unlicensed physical therapy technician assists in the therapy process by performing clerical duties, ordering supplies, updating patient records and answering phones. He or she may also keep the physical therapy areas cleaned and stocked, maintain equipment and bring patients to the therapy area.

A licensed physical therapy technician provides patient care by carrying out the instructions of a physical therapist. He or she may help patients perform exercises and provide therapeutic treatments, such as massage, ultrasound or electrical stimulation, that are intended to relieve pain, improve mobility and build strength. Licensed physical therapy technicians also help patients adjust to prosthetic devices and learn to use wheelchairs, crutches and walkers.

Salary and Career Forecast Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted job growth of 35% in the area of physical therapy services during the 2008-2018 period (www.bls.gov). Demand was expected to rise as an aging population required additional therapeutic and rehabilitative services. Employment opportunities were expected to be strongest for licensed physical therapy technicians who have an associate degree from an accredited physical therapy education program. In 2008, physical therapist aides earned a median annual salary of $23,760, while physical therapist assistants earned $46,140.

Education Requirements

The educational requirement for a physical therapy technician who will have no patient-care responsibilities is generally a high school diploma or GED. Many employers will provide on-the-job training for these positions.

In contrast, becoming a licensed physical therapy technician with patient-care responsibilities requires an associate degree earned through an accredited physical therapy assistant program. As of 2009, the BLS reported that there were 223 physical therapy assistant programs that were accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). CAPTE is affiliated with the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Associate degree programs in physical therapy assisting generally take two years to complete.

Associate Degree Curriculum

Physical therapy assisting associate degree course topics typically include therapeutic exercises and equipment, orthotics and prosthetics, treatments for soft tissue injuries, functional rehabilitation, geriatric therapy, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and neurology. Associate degree programs usually include a clinical practicum, which consists of several semesters of lab work completed under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

Licensing and Certification Requirements

Before they can treat patients, physical therapy technicians who have graduated from an accredited associate degree program must obtain licensure or certification by passing the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) and earning the regulatory designation of PTA. The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy provides information about the exam and state licensing requirements (www. fsbpt.org). Basic cardiac life support (BCLS) or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification is also required for all physical therapy technicians.

Show me popular schools

Related to Physical Therapist Tech Degree

  • Related
  • Recently Updated
  • Popular
Physical Therapy Tech: Career Profile

Physical therapy techs, also referred to as physical therapy aides, are part of a burgeoning career field. Physical therapy...

Kinesiotherapy Vs. Physical Therapy: What's the Difference?

Kinesiotherapy and physical therapy are similar fields; both deal with the treatment of patients who have suffered from a...

Colleges with Master Programs in Physical Therapy: How to Choose

Physical therapy is a division of the health industry that specializes in the maximization of mobility. Physical therapists...

Colleges with a Physical Therapy Bachelor's Degree

Undergraduate programs focusing specifically on physical therapy are rare because a master's or doctoral degree is required to...

Physical Therapy Major: Classes and Courses Overview

Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Eligibility and relevancy of sample programs below will vary by article and program
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (3 campuses)
    • California (16)
    • Colorado (3)
    • Florida (6)
    • Georgia (5)
    • Illinois (7)
    • Indiana (2)
    • Maryland (1)
    • Michigan (1)
    • Minnesota (1)
    • Missouri (2)
    • North Carolina (2)
    • New Jersey (3)
    • Nevada (1)
    • New York (2)
    • Ohio (4)
    • Oklahoma (1)
    • Oregon (1)
    • Pennsylvania (4)
    • Tennessee (2)
    • Texas (7)
    • Utah (1)
    • Virginia (3)
    • Washington (3)
    • Wisconsin (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your classroom preference?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Currently not accepting applications from Texas residents
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    Which subject are you interested in?

  • School locations:
    • Arizona (1 campus)
    • California (1 campus)
    • Florida (6)
    • Idaho (1)
    • Kentucky (2)
    • Michigan (1)
    • Ohio (7)
    • Oklahoma (2)
    • Tennessee (1)
    • Texas (1)
    • Virginia (5)
    • West Virginia (1)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    • Associate
        • Associate in Medical Assisting and Administration

    What year did you graduate from high school?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 18 years of age or older
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Distance Learning Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Master
        • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants must have completed 12 college credits
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • California (19 campuses)
    • Washington (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    • Non-Degree
        • Certificate - Health Administration

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • New York (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at New York University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Assisting
        • Physical Therapist Assistant
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Nutrition Services
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
  • School locations:
    • Michigan (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Michigan include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Assisting
        • Physical Therapist Assistant
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics