What Does A Physical Therapy Aide Do?
If you’re considering starting on a new career path in the physical therapy sector, the role of physical therapy aide might just be for you. Physical therapy aides (also sometimes referred to simply as a PT aide) carry out certain key responsibilities in healthcare facilities across the country.
Getting serious about career planning in a new sector means you’ll have to do the appropriate research into the area. Look into aide jobs, find out what a typical physical therapy aide job description and salary looks like, and learn all about the responsibilities aides usually take on. To ensure you’re as prepared as possible, you might also want to consider doing an online physical therapy aide short course.
What does a physical therapy aide do?
Physical therapy aide jobs differ from those of physical therapy assistants. While the two are sometimes confused, physical therapy aide skills are not the same as the skills required of therapy assistants, who might also be known as a PT assistant.
While both assistants and aides support physical therapists, an aide’s role is less hands-on. Their skills lie in ensuring PTs have, for example, clean treatment equipment and well-managed books. As such, the educational requirements for this role are generally lower, making it a more accessible position for those with a passion for PT.
Physical therapy aide job description
If you’re wondering what jobs an aide might perform, then it’s worth looking at a typical job description. Roles and responsibilities will, of course, vary depending on the state and organization you end up working for, but by and large, an aide job description will contain some or all of the following job duties:
- Setting up equipment for physical therapists.
- Assisting with patient intake.
- Transporting and observing patients.
- Documenting patient progress.
- Clerical tasks, which might include medical billing.
Most PT aides will not be involved in direct patient care. That will be the responsibility of a licensed physical therapist or therapist assistant. However, both therapists assistants and aides will be required to have at least a basic understanding of the language of physical therapy, anatomy and physiology, and the techniques used to help patients regain movement and manage pain.
What is a typical physical therapy aide salary?
According to statistics gathered by the Department of Labor and published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a physical therapist was $28,450 in May, 2020. For a starting aide salary, you can expect to get around $20,000 a year, with the potential to earn more than $40,000 further down the line.
Working as a physical therapist aide, inevitably, will not bring in as much money as someone in medical assisting, practical nursing, or another assistive role in the healthcare industry. However, those that secure physical therapy aide positions in specialist nursing care facilities are likely to earn the highest salaries.
If that healthy salary wasn’t enough to sway you, then the job outlook might. In the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the growth rate of physical therapy aide positions was recorded at 21%, which is faster than that of aide roles in occupational therapy and other similar sectors.
What is the difference between a physical therapy aide and a physical therapist assistant?
A lot has been said so far about how physical therapy aide responsibilities are separate from physical therapist assistant jobs. But, what exactly is the difference?
Well, for one thing, those whose physical therapy career path leads them to an assistant position will be far more involved in aiding patient recovery. Under the supervision of physical therapists, PT assistants will attend treatment sessions and personally assist patients recovering from injuries.
On the other hand, while physical therapy aides do have a role that includes lower-level patient interaction and treatment observation, their role also incorporates the responsibilities of an administrative assistant. Most facilities will require physical therapist assistants and aides alike, to help ensure the smooth-running of operations and the delivery of superior patient care.
All in all, physical therapist assistant roles are carried out by people who have a higher level of education and training behind them. It is similar to the role of a physical therapy technician, although assistants tend to be more qualified.
Do you need a license to become a physical therapy aide?
Physical therapy aide positions are among the most accessible job roles for people who want to work in patient care but don’t have the education necessary to directly treat patients. In fact, anyone with a high school diploma can go on to become a successful PT aide, and will be expected to learn the ropes during on the job training. Those who also sign up for online short courses are likely to have more competitive resumes, though.
So, physical therapy aides do not need a license, regardless of the care facilities they work at or the state they operate in. It’s a different story for people training to become a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant.
Physical therapists, unsurprisingly, are required to have a bachelor's degree as well as a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. They also then have to take the National Physical Therapy Exam to get their license. The requirements are fairly similar for physical therapy assistants, although they don’t have to complete anywhere near as many years of training to get their qualifications.
To become a registered physical therapist assistant, candidates have to acquire associates degrees, and they have to get their degree from an accredited university. They then have to pass the PTA-specific National Physical Therapy Exam.
As with physical therapy aides, for both physical therapists and their assistants, the educational requirements are the same across the country, whether they operate in North Dakota, Texas, California, or Virginia.
How to become a physical therapy aide?
If you think that the role of physical therapy aide is right for you, then it could be a good idea to take an online short course that will help you to become a physical therapy aide. With the Courses for Success Becoming a Physical Therapy Aide Online Certificate course you’ll get to explore the following topics in detail:
- Introduction to physical therapy.
- Communication for the physical therapy aide.
- Ethics and law for the PT aide.
- The language of physical therapy.
- Anatomy and physiology.
- Safety for the physical therapy aide.
- Helping patients walk.
- Using physical agents.
- Use of exercise.
The course is particularly useful for those who aren’t yet sure whether they really do want to enter the field, either as a physical therapist assistant or aide. This is because it offers an insight into the physical therapist jobs someone in this position might be expected to do and provides comprehensive online education training on everything from health and safety best practice to helping people walk and patients move.
If learners like the idea of helping people to regain movement, then they might consider looking into the roles of occupational therapy aide, occupational therapy assistant, or other occupational therapy assistant jobs.
Other related roles that will require physical therapist online training include physical therapy technicians. However, those looking to train in a different area, for example as a pharmacy technician, could also benefit from the introduction to anatomy and physiology our short course provides.
Why Courses for Success?
Courses for Success offers over 10,000 online courses, all of which aim to help you in your personal development and career progression. Not only that, but you can also study them anywhere and at any time, and take them at your own pace, too.
You don’t need career diplomas or specific experience to get started. With every course we offer created to be as accessible as possible, you can be sure that all of them, from our coding courses and trading courses to design courses and developer courses, will help to boost your prospects, no matter who you are.
Beyond just the education itself, students will be issued with a certificate online after successful completion of each of the learning courses they do. Our physical therapy aide skills courses are no exception. Our Becoming a Physical Therapy Aide Online Certificate courses are recognized by industry leaders. You could really make a name for yourself in the business world by signing up for a Courses for Success short course.