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What Is the Average Salary for a Physical Therapy Aide?

If you have a high school diploma, are relatively strong and are interested in a growing healthcare field with potential for advancement, you might consider becoming a physical therapy aide. Physical therapy aides work with assistants and therapists to support patients with chronic pain, disabilities and injuries. Read on to learn the average salary you can expect as a physical therapy aide.

Job Description

Physical therapist assistants and physical therapy aides work together but have distinct roles and earn different salaries. Under the supervision of a physical therapist, assistants administer a variety of treatment methods. Aides primarily prepare for treatments and provide clerical services. As an aide, you may clean the treatment room, transport patients, complete insurance forms and order supplies. Since you're not licensed, you can't do clinical work like assistants, who earn a higher salary.

Important Facts About Physical Therapy Aides

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent
On-the-Job Training Lasts anywhere from one to several weeks
Key Skills Empathy, physical stamina, attention to detail, manual dexterity, patience and good manners
Similar Occupations Medical assistants, occupational therapy assistants and aides, psychiatric technicians and aides, nursing assistants and aides

Salary Overview

According to data released in May 2020 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), physical therapy aides earned a mean annual salary of $30,110 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported in May 2020 that the top ten percent of aides made a yearly salary of $40,580 or more, while the bottom ten percent earned an annual wage of $20,500 or less.

Salary by State

Your salary can also vary by state. The highest-paying states for physical therapy aides as of May 2020 were Rhode Island and Connecticut, which paid workers mean salaries of $45,970 and $41,800 respectively, according to the BLS. Minnesota, Hawaii and Alaska also offered higher-than-average salaries, paying workers mean incomes over $37,000 per year. Lower annual mean wages, between $22,090 and $28,350, were reported in states that include Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Utah and Alabama.

Salary by Employer

Your place of work can affect the salary that you make. Many aides are employed directly by physical therapists, while others work in hospitals. As of May 2020, approximately 27,970 aides worked at other health practitioners' offices, while 6,950 were employed at general and surgical hospitals, reported the BLS. Professionals at these locations made mean wages of $28,300 and $32,660 annually, respectively. A smaller percentage worked at nursing care facilities and physicians' offices.

As of May 2020, the top three industries that paid the highest salaries were local government; nursing care facilities; and elementary and secondary schools. These sectors paid mean annual wages of $44,370, $40,070 and $36,340, respectively, according to the BLS.

Employment Outlook

The BLS expects very fast job growth of 21% for physical therapist aides over the 2019-2029 decade. This growth is partially due to the aging population and technological developments. Prospects should be best for those working in facilities that treat the elderly and in rural areas. According to the BLS, the five states having the highest employment levels as of May 2020 were California, Texas, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.