Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain. Physical therapist assistants are involved in the direct care of patients. They treat patients through exercise, massage, gait and balance training, and other therapeutic interventions.
Employment of physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 31 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for physical therapy is expected to increase in response to the health needs of an aging population, particularly the large baby-boom generation. This group is staying more active later in life than previous generations did. However, many baby boomers also are entering the prime age for heart attacks, strokes and mobility-related injuries, increasing the demand for physical therapy needed for rehabilitation.
In addition, a number of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, have become more prevalent in recent years. More physical therapist assistants will be needed to manage the effects of such conditions and help patients maintain their mobility. The median annual wage for physical therapist assistants was $57,430 in May 2017.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapist-assistants-and-aides.htm (visited August 22, 2018).