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. A number of more administrative support duties could be possible as well, including confirming appointments, ordering supplies, attending training sessions and supervising lower level technicians. Working directly with a physical therapist is almost certain whether it's in their office or a clinical practice. As a physical therapy assistant, you should be ready for full days of being on your feet, setting up equipment, moving patients, and other possibly strenuous activities. This information below contains details about becoming a physical therapy tech.

Degree Required Associate's degree
Education Field of Study Physical therapy technology
Licensure Licensure or certification is required; requirements vary by state
Key Duties Assist with technology during physical therapy
Job Growth (2014-2024) 41%* (for all physical therapy assistants)
Median Salary (2015) $55,170* (for all physical therapy assistants)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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, 81,230 people worked as physical therapy techs as of 2015. From 2014-2024, employment was projected to increase 41% to around 110,700 (www.bls.gov).

What Salary Could I Earn?

BLS figures showed earning for the 10th-90th percentile range were $32,640-$76,940, as of May 2015. By comparison, October 2016 figures from PayScale.com show the same range of $30,204-$61,549.

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.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If the job duties and work environment of a physical therapy assistant interest you, you might also consider a career as a medical assistant or pharmacy technician. Pharmacy technicians can work after earning a high school diploma, to help pharmacists dispense prescription medications. Aspiring medical assistants need to complete a certificate program. These professionals work in hospitals or other healthcare facilities and do a wide range of administrative and clinical support duties.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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  • Purdue University Global

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  • University of Michigan

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    • Michigan: Flint
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