|Number of Jobs:||30,800|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Healthcare Jobs||#9|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#15|
The day-to-day work of helping injured patients move more freely requires a mix of skillful, hands-on care and organizational acumen. Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are part of a clinical team that makes sure that both clients and the business side of a therapy practice move smoothly. Just as physical therapists aid doctors in creating and executing treatment plans, assistants aid therapists in helping patients with movement difficulties caused by injury or disease. They're tasked with everything from cleaning therapy spaces to recording accurate data on patient progress, teaching proper exercise techniques, and showing patients how to use crutches or canes.
This career is growing more quickly than most other healthcare jobs, and at a much faster rate than the jobs of physical therapists that oversee them. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment growth for PTAs should average 45.7 percent between 2010 and 2020.
According to the BLS, PTAs earned a median salary of $51,040 in 2011. The best-paid earned about $71,200, while the lowest-paid earned less than $32,030. While the largest number of jobs are centered in large cities such as Chicago or New York, the top-paying metropolitan areas for this career are in Texas.
Many PTA programs offer two-year associate's degrees, but students must graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) to be eligible for the licensure exam required by most states. About a quarter of that education should be in a clinical environment, and that's where the job hunt should start, experts say.
Real-world clinical experience can be a big help in getting a foot in the door. Internships that start during school are the best introduction to a practice that could become an employer, says Nancy Greenawald, the program coordinator of the physical therapist assistant program at Montgomery College in Takoma Park, Md. "The place where they do their clinical internship can say, 'Is this someone who we’d like to have work with us?'"
|Upward Mobility||Below Average|