Summary Report for:
31-2021.00 - Physical Therapist Assistants
Assist physical therapists in providing physical therapy treatments and procedures. May, in accordance with State laws, assist in the development of treatment plans, carry out routine functions, document the progress of treatment, and modify specific treatments in accordance with patient status and within the scope of treatment plans established by a physical therapist. Generally requires formal training.
Sample of reported job titles: Certified Physical Therapist Assistant (CPTA), Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant, Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant (LPTA), Outpatient Physical Therapist Assistant, Per Diem Physical Therapist Assistant (Per Diem PTA), Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA), Physical Therapist Assistant and Nurse Aide, Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA), Physical Therapy Technician (Physical Therapy Tech), Staff Physical Therapy Assistant
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Instruct, motivate, safeguard, and assist patients as they practice exercises or functional activities.
- Observe patients during treatments to compile and evaluate data on their responses and progress and provide results to physical therapist in person or through progress notes.
- Confer with physical therapy staff or others to discuss and evaluate patient information for planning, modifying, or coordinating treatment.
- Administer active or passive manual therapeutic exercises, therapeutic massage, aquatic physical therapy, or heat, light, sound, or electrical modality treatments, such as ultrasound.
- Measure patients' range-of-joint motion, body parts, or vital signs to determine effects of treatments or for patient evaluations.
- Communicate with or instruct caregivers or family members on patient therapeutic activities or treatment plans.
- Transport patients to and from treatment areas, lifting and transferring them according to positioning requirements.
- Secure patients into or onto therapy equipment.
- Train patients in the use of orthopedic braces, prostheses, or supportive devices.
- Assist patients to dress, undress, or put on and remove supportive devices, such as braces, splints, or slings.
- Clean work area and check and store equipment after treatment.
- Fit patients for orthopedic braces, prostheses, or supportive devices, such as crutches.
- Monitor operation of equipment and record use of equipment and administration of treatment.
- Attend or conduct continuing education courses, seminars, or in-service activities.
- Perform clerical duties, such as taking inventory, ordering supplies, answering telephone, taking messages, or filling out forms.
- Perform postural drainage, percussions, or vibrations or teach deep breathing exercises to treat respiratory conditions.
- Administer traction to relieve neck or back pain, using intermittent or static traction equipment.
- Prepare treatment areas and electrotherapy equipment for use by physiotherapists.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Arm orthopedic softgoods — Slings
- Automated external defibrillators AED or hard paddles — Automated external defibrillators AED
- Back or lumbar or sacral orthopedic softgoods — Back braces; Sacro-illiac joint lumbar corsets
- Balance beams or boards or bolsters or rockers for rehabilitation or therapy — Balance beams; Balance boards
- Blood pressure cuff kits — Blood pressure cuffs
- Canes or cane accessories — Quad canes; Single point canes
- Cardiac output CO monitoring units or accessories — Cardiac monitors
- Chest percussors — Mechanical percussors
- Continuous passive motion CPM devices or accessories — Continuous passive motion CPM equipment
- Crutches or crutch accessories — Crutches
- Desktop computers
- Digital camcorders or video cameras — Digital video cameras
- Digital cameras
- Electric vibrators for rehabilitation or therapy — Massage equipment
- Electromyography EMG units or accessories — Electromyographs EMG
- Electrotherapy combination units — Interferential electrical stimulation machines; Iontopheresis equipment
- Ergometer — Ergometers
- Exercise trampolines
- Full body immersion hydrotherapy baths or tanks — Hydrotherapy pools; Whirlpool therapy baths
- Gait belts for rehabilitation or therapy — Gait belts
- Galvanic or faradic stimulators — High-voltage Galvanic stimulation machines
- Goggles — Safety goggles
- Head or neck traction supplies — Cervical traction equipment
- Hydrotherapy bath or tank accessories — Lavage hydrotherapy equipment
- Knee brace or support — Knee braces
- Lower body resistance machines — Lower-body isokinetic machines
- Lower extremity prosthetic devices — Above-the-knee prosthetics; Below-the-knee prosthetics
- Mats or platforms for rehabilitation or therapy — Hi-lo manipulation tables
- Medical acoustic stethoscope or accessory — Mechanical stethoscopes
- Medical nasal cannulae
- Medical staff isolation or cover gown — Protective gowns
- Medical staff isolation or surgical masks — Surgical masks
- Neuromuscular stimulators or kits — Functional electrical stimulation FES equipment
- Notebook computers
- Orthopedic splint systems — Splints; Wrist splints
- Orthotics or foot care products — Ankle-foot orthotics
- Oxygen therapy delivery system products accessories or its supplies — Portable oxygen equipment
- Parallel bars for rehabilitation or therapy — Parallel bars
- Patient care beds or accessories for specialty care — Rotating bed; Standing cages; Standing tables; Tilt tables
- Patient height rulers — Posture grids
- Patient lifts or accessories — Hoyer lifts; Total lift chairs
- Patient shifting boards or accessories — Sliding boards
- Patient stretchers or stretcher accessories — Stretchers
- Pedal exercisers for rehabilitation or therapy — Stationary bicycles
- Pelvis or back traction supplies — Pelvic traction equipment
- Personal computers
- Physiological recorders — Inclinometers
- Plumb bobs — Plumb lines
- Positioning devices — Patient positioning devices
- Powder boards for rehabilitation or therapy — Powder boards
- Protective gloves — Safety gloves
- Pulse oximeter units — Pulse oximeters
- Reachers for the physically challenged — Reachers
- Reflex hammers or mallets — Reflex hammers
- Resistive exercise bands or putty or tubing or accessories for rehabilitation or therapy — Resistive exercise bands
- Short wave diathermy units — Short wave diathermy devices
- Skinfold calipers — Body-fat calipers
- Tablet computers
- Therapeutic balls or accessories — Medicine balls; Swiss exercise balls
- Therapeutic heating or cooling pads or compresses or packs — Cold packs; Therapeutic hot packs
- Therapeutic paraffin baths or accessories — Paraffin baths
- Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation units — Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation TENS equipment
- Treadmill exercisers for rehabilitation or therapy — Therapeutic treadmill exercisers
- Ultrasonic therapy apparatus or supplies — Ultrasound machines
- Ultraviolet UV lamps — Ultraviolet UV phototherapy lamps
- Upper body resistance machines — Upper-body isokinetic machines
- Upper extremity prosthetic devices — Arm prosthetics
- Vascular sequential compression devices or tubing — Intermittent compression units; Sequential compression devices
- Walkers or rollators — Front-wheel walkers; Hemi walkers; Platform walkers; Reciprocating walkers (see all 5 examples)
- Weights or sets or accessories for rehabilitation or therapy — Free weights
- Wrist exercisers for rehabilitation or therapy — Hand grips
Technology used in this occupation:
- Accounting software — Billing software; Bookkeeping software
- Action games — Video game software; Virtual reality game software
- Calendar and scheduling software — Scheduling software; SpectraSoft AppointmentsPRO
- Data base user interface and query software — dBASE; FileMaker Pro software; Microsoft Access
- Electronic mail software — Email software; Microsoft Outlook
- Medical software — BioEx Systems Exercise Pro; Rehab Documentation Company ReDoc Suite; Summit Software CarePoint; TherAssist (see all 13 examples)
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office software
- Operating system software — Microsoft Windows
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software
- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
- Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
- Therapy and Counseling — Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
- Sociology and Anthropology — Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Static Strength — The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.
- Trunk Strength — The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
- Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
Detailed Work Activities
- Monitor patient progress or responses to treatments.
- Perform clerical work in medical settings.
- Prepare medical instruments or equipment for use.
- Prepare medical reports or documents.
- Hold patients to ensure proper positioning or safety.
- Monitor medical equipment to ensure proper functioning.
- Assess physical conditions of patients to aid in diagnosis or treatment.
- Clean patient rooms or patient treatment rooms.
- Communicate patient status to other health practitioners.
- Encourage patients during therapeutic activities.
- Engage patients in exercises or activities.
- Prepare patient treatment areas for use.
- Adjust positions of patients on beds or tables.
- Administer basic health care or medical treatments.
- Assist patients with daily activities.
- Administer therapy treatments to patients using hands or physical treatment aids.
- Teach medical procedures or medical equipment use to patients.
- Move patients to or from treatment areas.
- Confer with other professionals to plan patient care.
- Inventory medical supplies or equipment.
- Fit patients for assistive devices.
- Attend educational events to update medical knowledge.
- Teach medical procedures to healthcare personnel.
- Contact With Others — 100% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 86% responded “Extremely important.”
- Physical Proximity — 91% responded “Very close (near touching).”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 75% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 79% responded “Every day.”
- Deal With External Customers — 68% responded “Extremely important.”
- Telephone — 45% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 41% responded “Extremely important.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 47% responded “Extremely important.”
- Exposed to Disease or Infections — 47% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 76% responded “Some freedom.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 69% responded “Every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 64% responded “Some freedom.”
- Spend Time Standing — 56% responded “More than half the time.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 45% responded “Important results.”
- Time Pressure — 44% responded “Every day.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 28% responded “High responsibility.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 32% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Electronic Mail — 40% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Walking and Running — 35% responded “More than half the time.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 28% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Level of Competition — 54% responded “Highly competitive.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 48% responded “Very important.”
- Frequency of Conflict Situations — 30% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 50% responded “40 hours.”
|Title||Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.|
|Related Experience||Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include food service managers, electricians, agricultural technicians, legal secretaries, occupational therapy assistants, and medical assistants.|
|SVP Range||(6.0 to < 7.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
Interest code: SRI
- Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2014)||$26.16 hourly, $54,410 annual|
|Employment (2012)||71,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2012-2022)||Much faster than average (22% or higher)|
|Projected job openings (2012-2022)||45,100|
|Top industries (2012)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 wage data and 2012-2022 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2012-2022). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.