Physical Therapy Assistant Salary
Physical therapists, PTs or physiotherapists as they are called, are medical health professionals who are involved in preventing and treating various physical disabilities from all age levels from infants up to elderly patients. They are medical professionals who have to complete a college course, take a few months of clinical-setting training and then pass a licensure exam.
Physical therapy as a profession started in Sweden in 1813. It was the first time that the physical therapists were considered as a distinct medical profession with their own specialized field. The earlier known PTs were known only for facilitating exercises, massages, spine and joint manipulation and traction services. But now, the physical therapy profession has grown so much so that there are physical therapy rehabilitation centers that function independently outside of the hospital setting. In fact, a majority are operating as clinics. They may house not just PTs but also physicians, physical therapy assistants, physical therapy aides, occupational therapists and even nurses.
Physical therapy has evolved to include other fields of specialization. The most common is sports therapy for the injured athletes. Then there is cardiopulmonary physical therapy for those with heart and breathing problems. There’s also a geriatric, pediatric, neurologic and orthopedic physical therapy.
Please read our other article for more information on what is physical therapy.
Physical Therapy Assistant Salary and Job Description
Physical Therapy Assistants work for the licensed physical therapist. Unlike the physical therapists, they are only required to complete a physical therapy assistant program. They must also be duly certified by the state. Their job entails only treating the patients based only on the physical therapy management created by the physical therapist.
It should be noted that a physical therapy assistant can only perform a limited number of physical therapy procedures on the patient. The one who does the primary assessment would be the physical therapist. Because assistants do not evaluate the patient and since they do not formulate physical therapy treatments, the physical therapy assistant salary is much lower.
A physical therapy assistant is only limited to performing prescribed exercises and massages. They may be required to operate physical therapy modalities like an electrical stimulator and ultrasound machine but only as directed by the physical therapist. Some are able to perform traction. Application of wax or paraffin baths, cold packs and hot packs can also be done. Read more about how to become a physical therapist here.
The Salary of a Physical Therapy Assistant
The physical therapy assistant salary is much lower compared to a physical therapy salary because the assistant is only required to take a certification course whereas a physical therapist is required to complete a master’s degree in order to become a full-fledged practitioner. However the physical therapy assistant salary is much higher compared to the salary of a physical therapy aide as the aide is only required to do the manual labor which includes transporting the patients, cleaning the treatment area, maintaining and cleaning the modalities. A physical therapy aide will also be the one tasked to set up the treatment area.
The average physical therapy assistant salary is $48,290 annually or an average of $22.22 hourly. A PT aide’s salary would only amount to around $23,890 annually or $11.49 hourly. Those are the median salary ranges. Additional certifications would increase the physical therapy assistant salary.
Lowest to Highest Paid Physical Therapy Assistant Salary Across the US
The physical therapy assistant salary varies according to their years of working experience, their additional certifications, their specializations and the state in which they work. The physical therapy assistant salary is also dependent on the center they are working for.
The highest physical therapy assistant salary is about $60,000 annually. The lowest physical therapy salary is up to $30,000 annually.
The highest physical therapy assistant salary which is around $60,000 is usually paid by home health service facilities. The second highest physical therapy salary is being paid by nursing facilities. Those PT assistants who work in the hospital setting receive an average of around $47,000 annually (median salary ). The lowest physical therapy assistant salary is to be found in the physician offices.
The US state that pays the highest physical therapy assistant salary is the state of Texas with an average of more than $60,000 followed by California at around $57,000, then Nevada. Those states that pay the lowest physical therapy assistant salary are the states of West Virginia ( $40,000 ), Kentucky ( $47,000 ) and Oklahoma ( $43,000 ).
Physical Therapy Assistant Salary Specializations
The physical therapy assistant field is increasing yearly. In fact, there are close to 60,000 physical therapy assistant professionals in the US as compared to only around 40,000 physical therapy aides. The demand for this profession is already increasing year by year. It is a viable profession and the increase in salary is dependent not just on the work experience but by the number of special trainings and certifications received. In fact, it is encouraged for PT assistants to enhance their learning in order to get an increase in their salaries.
A physical therapy assistant salary may increase depending on their additional licensure and certification. Those who have a special certification for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or CPR usually get paid from $18 to $25 per hour. That is in contrast to just an ordinary physical therapy assistant with no other special certifications. Those who have taken a training course in Life Support are expected to see an increase in their physical therapy assistant salary.
For those with training or certification in the field of sports, they can also see an increase. Some receive up to $22 per hour of physical therapy assistant salary. Those who are trained to do massages or have taken a course in massage therapy can get a physical therapy assistant salary of up to $30 per hour.