How Much Do Physical Therapy Assistants Make?

“How much do physical therapy assistants make?” is one of the questions uppermost in the minds of people contemplating a career move into this healthcare support field. And it’s perfectly understandable that someone who is preparing to devote themselves to two years of career training — plus the work required to pass the National Physical Therapy Exam, state exams, or other qualifications expected to gain licensure — should want to know how much their investment is likely to be worth in terms of income potential.

Physical therapy assistants generally enjoy a competitive salary that reflects their commitment they have made to professional training, usually in the form of an associate’s degree. Reports from May 2010 showed that the average physical therapy assistant’s salary was $49,810 per annum, the equivalent of an hourly wage of $23.95 (assuming full time work over a 40 hour week.) There’s a range, of course, influenced by factors such as the type of setting in which individual assistants worked, the region of the country or state, etc. Salaries were noted to vary between $31,070 ($14.94 p.h.) and $68,820 ($33.09 p.h.) taking in account these and other variables.

The Growing Demand For Physical Therapy Assistants

How Much Do Physical Therapy Assistants Make?

Physical therapist assistants are to be found working in an enormously wide range of settings. The US government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a much faster than average growth rate for this sector, as the “baby boomer” generation passes into the post-retirement age group and places an increased demand for therapeutic services of this kind. Add to this the inescapable demographic trend that shows that people in general are living longer, thanks to progress in medical care and scientific research, and there is no sign of the need for healthcare support services diminishing in the foreseeable future.

The combination of promising employment potential and a competitive salary expectation leads many people to turn to this field, either straight from secondary education or as a career transition. They are also attracted by the prospect of working with others on a day-to-day basis and having a job which directly impacts the well-being of patients in visible ways. In an age of economic uncertainties, job security and income potential are continuing concerns, and the fact that one does not need to commit to the time and expense of postgraduate training to enter the profession is also influential.

While it’s a popular sector, there may be less competition for jobs for physical therapy assistants than there is for physical therapy aides. The very fact that assistants need to train to the associate degree level means there may be fewer entering the job market at this level, compared to PT aides who may have little or no training after high school and may have acquired their working skills through practical experience rather than theoretical education. The average salaries for aides are around half of what assistants can expect to make in many situations.

Some Top Paying Areas For Physical Therapy Assistants

If you want to maximize your earning potential as a physical therapy assistant, it might be a good idea to base yourself in an area in which the highest salaries have traditionally been observed. While the general cost of living can have a bearing on salary levels, surveys have shown that some types of setting and some parts of the country have higher mean wage levels than others. For instance, mean annual earnings in this job in 2010 were observed to be $62,440 ($30.02 per hour) in Texas, $57,760 ($27.77 p.h.) in California, $56,180 ($27.01 p.h.) in Connecticut and $55,280 ($26.58 p.h.) in Florida. That has no correlation with where the greatest number of jobs in the country were to be found, however.

The largest single group of employers of PTAs is health practitioners, including general health practitioners and a variety of specialist providers, such as chiropractors, optometrists, audiologists, speech therapists, and so on. But there are some work locations whose average wages were higher, such as home health services, a variety of business and industry settings, nursing care facilities, and geriatric care services.

So there are many different factors to take into account when asking the question “how much do physical therapy assistants make?” It depends on a range of circumstances from geographical location and work setting, to work history, experience and other individual variables. But it is clear that it remains a booming area of health care that is likely to be in rising demand in the next few years, and attracts many different people, including high school students and those looking to switch careers.