A career in physical therapy can be personally rewarding and financially smart, and training to become a physical therapy aide is a great way to get started. This field gives you many opportunities to help people live their lives to the fullest. Plus, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand to fill physical therapy aide jobs to grow by 30 percent by 2024.
What does a physical therapy aide do?
Aides work under the supervision of a licensed Physical Therapist (PT) and, in some cases, the physical therapist assistant (PTA). PTs use exercise, touch, instruction, equipment, and modalities (like heat, cold, electricity, and ultrasound) to treat their patients. They may administer the treatment themselves or direct and supervise aides to administer the treatment with them.
All states require that the physical therapist (or physical therapist assistants in some states) be physically present at the same site, and readily available when a PT aide is engaged in direct patient care. This is a great way to further your learning while on the job.
Physical therapy aides play crucial roles in the practice of physical therapy. PT aides serve as support personnel and help keep the PT facility running smoothly and efficiently. Due to their versatility and skillset, aides make extremely important contributions to the physical therapy team.
Physical therapy aide duties vary and often include:
- Administrative tasks such as scheduling and registering patients
- Answering the phone
- Taking care of billing and insurance duties
- Keeping the clinic and equipment clean and well-maintained
- Managing the inventory of supplies
There are several types of patient care settings for PT aides, including hospitals, assisted living homes, schools, private clinics, and athletics programs. These environments come with specific physical therapy aide responsibilities. For example, aides who work in hospitals may be tasked with transporting patients to and from the PT department. They must know how to position patients properly in bed or in wheelchairs and be very careful about safety issues when transporting or positioning patients. The PT will rely on aides to always make patient safety their first priority.
How much do physical therapy aides make?
In 2018, the median annual salary for physical therapy aides was $48,090 — $23.12 per hour — in the United States. This is a high salary for a position that does not require a college degree or license, and there are opportunities to grow your career from there.
Do physical therapy aides need certifications?
PT aides are unlicensed personnel. This means that states don’t require a college degree or a licensing exam. However, most employers prefer to hire aides who have some training and experience.
In some states, PT aides may work directly with patients. Once they have sufficient experience and training, they might:
- Supervise an exercise program designed by the PT
- Use modalities such as heat and cold
- Educate patients about equipment
- Work with patients on mobility skills (walking or using crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs)
- Teach patients some basic functional tasks
Working as a valuable member of the physical therapy team is a wonderful career! It is also a profession with a high demand for competent and compassionate people who care about the needs of patients and their families.
Are you ready to complete online training to become a Physical Therapy Aide? Get started today.