Choosing to become a physical therapy assistant or aide can prove to be a rewarding and stable career choice. Physical therapy is a widely used program for individuals suffering from chronic pain or recovering from an accident where various exercises and treatments are applied to the problem area. The assistant?s job is to follow the instructions given by the physical therapist which may include working with the patient during exercise, applying hot and cold packs, electrical stimulation or other recommended treatments. An aide will help transport patients in wheelchairs and may be involved in ordering supplies and keeping records.
A physical therapy assistant can expect to earn between $40,000 and $50,000 (U.S. dollars) depending upon the work environment. Home health care services and nursing care facilities tend to pay more than a smaller physician?s office. A physical therapy aide will typically earn between $25,000 and $30,000 with the highest pay being given at nursing care facilities and hospitals. The need for both specialists is increasing and the salary expectations should also be on the rise. The education and training for assistants is more rigid than for aides, thus they will earn more income.
To become a physical therapy aide, a high school diploma is usually recommended. A special license is not required and very often training is performed on the job site. In many cases, becoming an aide is a first step to moving up to an assistant level position. An aide can learn the basic skills involved in becoming a therapist or assistant and decide to continue their education and training. The criteria for entering in this field should be a concern and caring attitude and the desire to help others. Very often aides will work with the elderly or special needs patients who appreciate patience and a gentle manner.
The requirements for becoming a physical therapy assistant typically include holding a two year associate degree and in most states in the U.S. obtaining a certification or license. Courses in biology, chemistry and physiology are recommended and basic math and communication skills are beneficial. Finding the best school and training program depends on the student?s location. Larger metropolitan areas usually have several medical training schools that provide education at a technician level and prepare the student for certification in a variety of medical specialties. In addition to completing the necessary courses, CPR training, first aid certification and a clinical volunteer internship may be required.
The classroom training program in an on campus setting typically takes one year to complete. Some online schools offer accelerated programs that can be completed through an ongoing schedule. The physical therapy assistant training costs vary depending upon the school location and size of the campus. Online programs tend to be more expensive and are usually only recommended for students who have superior study skills. The classroom learning environment provides an opportunity to exchange ideas with other students and to seek individual instruction when necessary.