How Can I Become a Physical Therapist Technician?
Explore the career requirements for physical therapist technician. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you.
What Does a Physical Therapist Technician Do?
A physical therapist technician, also known as a physical therapist aide, assists physical therapists in treating people with muscle, ligament and tendon injuries. Their role is to support licensed physical therapists by ensuring that therapeutic equipment is cleaned and adjusted properly for each patient. Physical therapist technicians may also be responsible for washing towels, helping move patients to a therapy, answering phones and scheduling appointments. Other clerical duties may include ordering supplies or filling out insurance forms. Physical therapist technicians' duties may vary, depending on what their state allows. Learn more about this career by viewing the table below:
|Education Required||H.S. diploma or equivalent; physical therapy aide programs are available|
|Training Required||On-the-job training|
|Key Responsibilities||Assist physical therapists and assistants in diagnostic and treatment procedures, |
Monitor use of equipment,
Observe and document therapy progress,
Fit patients for and train patients in use of orthopedic equipment,
Transport, lift and transfer patients as required
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||23%*|
|Mean Salary (2018)||$28,500*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Physical Therapist Technician Defined
A physical therapist technician's primary role is to support a licensed physical therapist by ensuring that therapeutic equipment is cleaned and adjusted properly for each patient. In this position, your job tasks might include monitoring and ordering supplies and performing some clerical duties, such as scheduling appointments. You may also assist in transporting patients from one area of a physical therapy facility to another. All of your activities are completed under the direct supervision of a physical therapist.
Do I Need a Degree?
To become a physical therapist technician, you only need to be a high school graduate. Much of your training can take place while on the job. There are, however, individual courses, diploma and certificate programs designed to help you learn the basics of working as a physical therapy technician or aide. These programs are often found at career schools or community colleges and cover physical therapy equipment use, medical terminology, anatomy, medical billing and legal issues pertinent to the field. If you decide that you would like a position with more responsibility, you might want to enroll in a physical therapy assistant degree or certificate program.
Where Can I Work?
Essentially, you can work anywhere a physical therapist works. This includes hospitals, nursing homes, sports clinics, schools and rehabilitation centers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for physical therapist technicians were likely to be outstanding due to the large aging population and the high survival rate of babies born with physical impairments. In fact, the BLS expected physical therapist aide jobs to grow 23% during the 2018-2028 decade (www.bls.gov).
What Could I Expect to Earn?
Depending on where you work, you might be paid by the hour and earn overtime or bonuses. The BLS reported in May 2018 that the mean salary for a physical therapist aide was $28,500 a year, with the top ten percent earning over $39,230.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Pharmacy technicians are related positions that require a high school diploma or equivalent. These technicians work with pharmacists to dispense medication. Dental and medical assistants are also similar positions that require a postsecondary nondegree award, such as a certificate or diploma. Dental assistants perform many of the clerical duties of a dentist office, like scheduling appointments, but may also be allowed to do some clinical tasks, such as taking x-rays. Medical assistants typically specialize in administrative or clinical tasks in various kinds of healthcare facilities.