What Is a Physical Therapy Tech?

A physical therapy technician helps injured patients and individuals recovering from surgery regain their mobility. Get information on their duties, future job prospects and educational requirements. Schools offering Physical Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Duties of a Physical Therapy Tech?

Assisting with therapeutic procedures or administering procedures under a therapist's supervision will be your primary responsibility as a physical therapy tech. Therapeutic procedures might include paraffin baths, hydrotherapy, mat exercises, gait training and weight training. Another job duty is teaching patients how to use wheelchairs, walkers and crutches to help them move around and manage their debilities at home.

Additionally, you will have a role in assessing the condition of patients, planning treatment programs, preparing treatment schedules and keeping records on the progress of treatment. Confirming appointments, ordering supplies, attending training sessions and supervising lower level technicians will be among your other support duties.

Where Can I Work?

Possible employers include physical therapy centers, clinics, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, schools for handicapped children, physician's offices and nursing homes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 65,690 people worked as physical therapy techs as of May 2010. From 2008-2018, employment was projected to increase 33% to around 85,000 (www.bls.gov).

What Salary Could I Earn?

BLS figures showed earning for the 10th-90th percentile range were $31,070-$68,820, as of May 2010. By comparison, July 2011 figures from Payscale.com show the same range of $25,755-$61,415. These figures include overtime pay and bonuses.

What Education Do I Need?

You will need to earn a 2-year physical therapist assistant associate's degree to become a physical therapy tech. These programs teach you human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, kinesiology and therapeutic techniques through a mixture of classroom study and lab courses. The equipment you learn to use might include infrared, ultraviolet or heat lamps, tilt tables, parallel bars and weights. Many programs also have internships that enable you to work with a physical therapist.

Licensing for physical therapy techs is required in most states. Licensure typically entails completing a degree program and passing the National Physical Therapy Exam, although some states have their own exams. In many states, you will also have to maintain your license by earning continuing education credits.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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