Physical Therapist Assistant Salary

Physical therapist assistant salary rates make this an attractive profession for people who want to get into a healthcare services career but don’t have the desire, time, or resources to undertake a four-year degree course followed by postgraduate education. But aspiring PTAs across the country are training to Associate’s degree level, spurred on by the prospect of promising wages, excellent employment opportunities, and a fulfilling career.

Average Physical Therapist Assistant Salary Levels

Physical Therapist Assistant Salary

Physical therapy assistants earned on average $23.95 per hour in 2010 — the equivalent of $49,810 annually — according to a recent study carried out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were significant variations in pay levels, dependent on a number of variables including geographic location, the industry or setting, and experience of individual workers. But it’s interesting to note that PT assistants, who are generally required to have graduated from a two-year degree program and gained a license or certification in order to practice, earn roughly double the salary of PT aides, who may have only a high school diploma and learn their skills on the job.

PTA Salary Ranges

PTAs work in a wide variety situations, from the offices of doctors, chiropractors, optometrists, and mental health practitioners, to hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, home health care agencies, and private business. Surveys have shown that the highest wages tend to be in a home health care services, where a PTA could expect on average to earn $28.62 per hour — that’s $59,520 annually, assuming a full-time, 40 week employment. Other high-paying industries included miscellaneous companies and businesses, employment services, nursing homes, and community care facilities for elderly people.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, staff in the offices of mental health practitioners (excluding physicians) earned on average $36,620 per annum. Those in fitness and sports centers earned a mean wage equivalent to $42,400 per year, and those in federal state and local government earned $43,300. So work settings, and the differences in the duties and responsibilities that they imply, may have an effect on a physical therapist assistant’s earning potential.

Average Salaries by State

The states employing the largest numbers of physical therapy assistants include Ohio, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida. These are not necessarily where the highest annual salary levels were to be found, however. According to the BLS, the highest paying state was Texas, followed by California and Connecticut. A full list of states showing annual mean salary levels in descending order is shown below. Bear in mind that these estimates are from the year 2010 and have been computed on the basis of multiplying an hourly wage x 2,080 — i.e. the equivalent of working a 40 hour week, 52 weeks of the year. They offer only a general guideline to salary variations across the country.

Texas $62,440
California $57,760
Connecticut $56,180
Florida $55,280
Nevada $54,800
Delaware $53,980
New Jersey $53,670
Maryland $52,910
North Carolina $52,560
Indiana $52,440
Ohio $52,320
Tennessee $51,680
Massachusetts $51,280
Virginia $50,440
Oregon $50,200
Illinois $49,590
Kansas $49,560
Rhode Island $49,010
New Hampshire $48,490
South Carolina $48,480
Washington $48,200
Georgia $47,860
Missouri $47,810
District of Columbia $46,900
Nebraska $46,850
Oklahoma $46,790
Wisconsin $46,720
Idaho $46,410
Kentucky $46,180
Arkansas $45,860
Maine $45,860
New York $45,720
Alabama $45,540
Arizona $45,450
Louisiana $43,070
Pennsylvania $42,780
Minnesota $42,540
Colorado $42,170
Michigan $42,020
West Virginia $41,540
Hawaii $41,450
Iowa $41,190
Alaska $40,960
Wyoming $40,690
North Dakota $40,020
Mississippi $39,940
New Mexico $39,580
Vermont $39,460
Montana $38,890
Utah $37,510
South Dakota $32,860
Puerto Rico $21,280

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

One might reasonably expect salary levels in general to reflect the cost of living in a particular area — so for example, a physical therapy assistant working in a big metropolitan area such as Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, might look for higher pay than their counterpart practicing in a rural location. Some people also expect higher salaries in areas of greater population density on the east or west coasts. While these trends may be observed in some areas, any information about average salaries needs to be interpreted in the light of overall cost of living of a particular region or city.

PTA Salary Expectations

Anyone interested in physical therapist assistant salary rates should also consider employment potential. In the case of this profession, job prospects are predicted to be very good, with a much faster rate of growth than the average. This is due in part to gradually increasing life expectancy, demographic trends pointing to a larger population of the elderly, as the baby boomer generation passes the age of retirement, and advances in medical science and treatments. The fact that physical therapy assistants need an A.S. degree and (in almost every state) a license to practice implies that there may be less competition for jobs than there might be for PT aides’ vacancies. Along with many other healthcare service occupations, physical therapy assisting looks to have excellent employment growth in the next few years.