Physical Therapy Assistant Salary Expectations

When it comes to salaries, in any profession, there is always someone earning more or less than you. When it comes to the physical therapy assistant salary you can expect to earn quite a respectable salary. Do not expect to earn as much as a physical therapist does. There is one distinct difference between being an assistant and being a therapist. The assistant only needs to complete a certification course which allows him or her to assist the physical therapist when needed. The physical therapist needs a master’s degree to enable him or her to become a full-fledged practitioner.

A physical therapy assistant will earn a much higher income than that of a physical therapy aide. The reason for this is that the aide takes care of the manual labor only. Some of the manual labor tasks include things such as transporting the patient, making sure that the treatment area is clean and neat, cleaning the modalities as well as maybe being asked to set up the room where treatment will take place.

Salaries of physical therapy assistants do vary depending on where they are working from, how many years of experience they have, any certificates as well as the state they work in. The highest paid assistant will earn anything in the region of $60,000 annually, while the lowest paid assistant can expect an annual PTA salary of around $30,000.

Those physical therapy assistants in the high annual income category are normally paid by the home health service facilities. The middle income category is normally assistants that work in hospital settings and their annual income of around $47,000 is paid by the nursing facilities. The assistants in the low category are normally those working in the offices of the physicians.

There is a yearly increase in this specific field and the salaries also depend on what experience and certification you have received and completed. The more physical therapy assistant training and certificates you have, the higher your chances of receiving an increase in your PTA salary as an assistant. There is a great demand for physical therapy assistants at the moment and you should also know that there are many more assistants than aides at the moment. The big reason for this is the fact that a physical therapy assistant earn so much more than a therapy aide. So, I want to encourage you to complete the special training needed to become an assistant instead of just an aide.

If you are an assistant that have special certification for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or CPR you can expect anything from $18 – $25 per hour which is a lot more than just a normal assistant who no other certification would be able to earn. If you specialize and have received training or certification in the field of sport you can look forward to receiving at around $22 per hour. If you have done a course in massage therapy, you can expect to be paid around $30 per hour.

To try and understand the physical therapy assistant salary we need to look at the history of this specific profession.

Physical Therapy Assistant – From The Begining

Physical therapy came into play during the four wars. Injured soldiers needed assistance when injured during the war and because it was mainly women performing physical therapy on behalf of the military, they were not very well paid. It was only later, during 1946 that the “hospital survey and construction act” was passed by congress. Thanks to the act greater respect was shown with regards to this type of profession. There was also an increase in men joining this profession. However, it was only during the 1950’s that a therapist became a recognized professional practitioner allowing for an increase in wages.

Physical Therapy Assistant Salary Ranges

Salaries of physical therapist assistants had a dramatic increase during the 1990’s and 2000’s. The average physical therapy assistant salary back in 1999 would be somewhere in the range of $30,000 and has since then increased to about $40,000. As far as a physical therapist is concerned, their salary in 1999 was about $60,000 and has now increased to about $80,000. You can see that this is obviously great news for physical therapists as well as physical therapy assistants.

Current Data

In May of 2010 the bureau of labor statistics was able to estimate that there are around 66,000 people earning physical therapy assistant salaries, meaning that the mean hourly wage is around $24 per hour which gives you a mean annual wage of about $50,000. The following breakdown should be able to give you a clear idea of not only where you will be starting off as far as earning are concerned, but also what you will be able to earn if you are prepared to work for it.

Physical Therapy Assistant Salary Per Hour

Starting at the bottom of the income scale and working our way up, you will see that the bottom 10% will be looking at an hourly wage of about $15.00 giving them an annual salary of just over $31,000. The middle 75% can look at a well increased hourly wage of just over $28.00 giving them an annual wage of just over $59,000. As you can see there is quite a significant difference between the wages of the bottom 10% and that of the 75% in the middle.

If you are lucky enough to be one of the 10% of earners at the top of the income scale then you will be looking at an hourly wage of over $33.00 giving them an annual salary of almost $70,000.
Top Paying Industries:

Industry Employment Hourly Pay Annual Pay
Home Health Care Services 5,200 $28.62 $59,520
Management of Companies and Enterprises 200 $28.11 $58,460
Employment Services 770 $27.38 $56,950
Nursing Care Facilities 7,440 $25.80 $53,660
Community Care Facilities for the Elderly 650 $25.46 $52,970


Top Paying States:

State Employment Hourly Pay Annual Pay
Texas 4,250 $30.02 $62,440
California 4,460 $27.77 $57,760
Connecticut 440 $27.01 $56,180
Florida 3,740 $26.58 $55,280
Nevada 320 $26.34 $54,800

Do keep in mind that all the figures given above were compiled over a year ago and are the average income figures for this specific occupation all over the country.

Industries For High Employment

If you are looking to find an industry with high employment and salary figures when it comes to this specific occupation then you should take a look at some of the following industries.

  • Offices of Other Health Practitioners. They employ over 26,000.
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals. They employ over 16,000
  • Nursing Care Facilities. They have employed over 7,000.
  • Home Health Care Services who employ 5,200.
  • Offices of Physicians. They employ just under 9,000.

Of these four, the industry paying the highest wage according to the bureau of labor statistics is the Home Health Care Services. As far as this industry is concerned you can earn an average annual physical therapy assistant salary of over $59,000.

Industry Employment Hourly Pay Annual Pay
Offices of Other Health Practitioners 26,800 $23.24 $48,330
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 16,030 $23.03 $47,900
Nursing Care Facilities 7,440 $25.80 $53,660
Home Health Care Services 5,200 $28.62 $59,520
Offices of Physicians 2,910 $22.34 $46,460

Looking at these statistics I am sure you have realized by now how rewarding a career as a physical therapist or a physical therapy assistant can be.

Increasing Your Salary

There are of course ways to increase your physical therapy assistant salary. Keep on gaining experience and earning your diplomas which in the end will make you the most valuable member of any team. The more experience you have, the more rewarding your PTA salary will become. Get training and experience in other areas as well, some extra physical therapy assistant duties like giving a massage, only if you have a license though, that you can do for bonus payments. By doing this alone, you can easily demand $30 per hour extra. So you see, by continuously gaining experience and earning certificates your earning potential will dramatically increase and you will be able to care for your patients properly making life easier for them while at the same time increasing your bank balance.

Did you know that in the USA, there are about 70,000 licensed physical therapy assistants and because of the ever increasing demand another 25,000 positions for physical therapy assistants will become available over the next couple of years in almost every state which is good news for people who don’t want to move to another state.

As far as physical therapy assistant salary is concerned, it all depends on whether you are working in an upscale area, the years of experience you have, whether you are working in a hospital or a private practice clinic and then of course the lower paying areas such as public schools.

Another way to increase your income is profit sharing. There are some employers that do offer you this option. The profit sharing amount can range anything from a couple of hundred dollars up to and more than $20,000 per annum.

Profit sharing is an option to consider but you need to discuss it in great detail with your prospective employer. Do yourself a favor and, if possible, talk to some of the current employers at the company. Try to find out whether they have profit sharing and what the average annual profit payment have been over the last couple of years.

When a physical therapy assistant salary offer has been made, take your time before accepting or declining the offer. Make sure you know exactly what the salary includes and what it doesn’t include, like health benefits for instance.

Sometimes a smaller salary is the better option if the benefits are worth so much more. Many employers offer benefits such as dental care, eye care, paid leave, health insurance, retirement plan and so forth.

Being a physical therapy assistant is actually very rewarding. People depend on you to make them feel better, heal them and giving them back the life, so to speak, in many instances. As a physical therapy assistant you always have to make sure that everything is set up and ready for treatment. If the therapist has to step out for a minute, you should be able to take over and help out with the remainder of the treatment or exercises provided you have been trained to perform the various exercises and treatments.

As an assistant you might also have to make difficult decisions where the patients are concerned. You will be asked for your advice or opinion in certain cases and you have to be confident when giving your opinions, advice and handing your reports to the therapist because if you for instance said that a person is ready to go back to work and something goes wrong it could become a worker’s compensation case in which you will have to explain your decisions made.

So, as you can see, being a physical therapy assistant can be very rewarding especially if you have the necessary people skills allowing you to communicate with all the patients you come in contact with.

You have to remember that as far as salaries are concerned that it will increase in the future. The demand for physical therapists and physical therapy assistants are increasing in demand and as the demand increases so will the annual wages and hourly rates.

As long as you keep on learning, getting experience and earning your diplomas in all the various fields, you as an assistant will become indispensable and will be able to assist the therapist in more ways than one, which will be even more rewarding and also allowing the therapist to take care of even more patients as she knows that you can be left alone with an injured patient as you have the experience as well as the diplomas allowing you to take care of a patient in need.

You cannot go wrong by choosing a future as a physical therapy assistant as your options, once you have gained all the experience you possibly can, are endless.

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