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Career profile Physical Therapist Aide

Also known as Physical Therapist Aide (PTA), Physical Therapy Aide (PTA), Physical Therapy Attendant, Rehabilitation Aide, Rehabilitation Attendant, Restorative Aide (RA)

Physical Therapist Aide

Also known as Physical Therapist Aide (PTA), Physical Therapy Aide (PTA), Physical Therapy Attendant

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$20,500 - $40,580 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Speaking
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Therapy and Counseling
  • Education and Training
Core tasks
  • Clean and organize work area and disinfect equipment after treatment.
  • Instruct, motivate, safeguard, or assist patients practicing exercises or functional activities, under direction of medical staff.
  • Record treatment given and equipment used.
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What does a Physical Therapist Aide do?

Physical Therapist Aides under close supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant, perform only delegated, selected, or routine tasks in specific situations.

In addition, Physical Therapist Aides these duties include preparing the patient and the treatment area.

What kind of tasks does a Physical Therapist Aide perform regularly?

Physical Therapist Aides are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Clean and organize work area and disinfect equipment after treatment.
  • Instruct, motivate, safeguard, or assist patients practicing exercises or functional activities, under direction of medical staff.
  • Record treatment given and equipment used.
  • Administer active or passive manual therapeutic exercises, therapeutic massage, or heat, light, sound, water, or electrical modality treatments, such as ultrasound.
  • Transport patients to and from treatment areas, using wheelchairs or providing standing support.
  • Change linens, such as bed sheets and pillow cases.
  • Secure patients into or onto therapy equipment.
  • Schedule patient appointments with physical therapists and coordinate therapists' schedules.
  • Observe patients during treatment to compile and evaluate data on patients' responses and progress and report to physical therapist.
  • Confer with physical therapy staff or others to discuss and evaluate patient information for planning, modifying, or coordinating treatment.
  • Arrange treatment supplies to keep them in order.
  • Perform clerical duties, such as taking inventory, ordering supplies, answering telephone, taking messages, or filling out forms.
  • Assist patients to dress, undress, or put on and remove supportive devices, such as braces, splints, or slings.
  • Maintain equipment or furniture to keep it in good working condition, including performing the assembly or disassembly of equipment or accessories.

The above responsibilities are specific to Physical Therapist Aides. More generally, Physical Therapist Aides are involved in several broader types of activities:

Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Performing General Physical Activities
Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

What is a Physical Therapist Aide salary?

The median salary for a Physical Therapist Aide is $28,450, and the average salary is $30,110. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Physical Therapist Aide salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Physical Therapist Aides earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Physical Therapist Aides earn less than $20,500 per year, 25% earn less than $24,250, 75% earn less than $33,280, and 90% earn less than $40,580.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Physical Therapist Aides is expected to change by 25.3%, and there should be roughly 7,400 open positions for Physical Therapist Aides every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$20,500 - $40,580
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Physical Therapist Aides?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Physical Therapist Aide are usually higher in their Social and Realistic interests.

Physical Therapist Aides typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Also, Physical Therapist Aides typically have strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Physical Therapist Aide tend to value Relationships, Achievement, and Support.

Most importantly, Physical Therapist Aides very strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Physical Therapist Aides moderately value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Lastly, Physical Therapist Aides moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Physical Therapist Aides must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, cooperation, and integrity.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Physical Therapist Aides, ranked by importance:

Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

What education and training do Physical Therapist Aides need?

Working as a Physical Therapist Aide usually requires a high school diploma.

Physical Therapist Aides need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Physical Therapist Aides

  • 1.5% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 5.3% completed high school or secondary school
  • 10.4% completed some college coursework
  • 50.5% earned a Associate's degree
  • 28.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 2.6% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.7% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Physical Therapist Aides

Physical Therapist Aides may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, therapy and counseling, or education and training knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Physical Therapist Aides might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Therapy and Counseling
Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Medicine and Dentistry
Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.

Important Abilities needed by Physical Therapist Aides

Physical Therapist Aides must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Physical Therapist Aides need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Physical Therapist Aides, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Speech Recognition
The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Critical Skills needed by Physical Therapist Aides

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Physical Therapist Aides frequently use skills like active listening, social perceptiveness, and speaking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Physical Therapist Aides, ranked by their relative importance.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.