In-demand Careers

Physical Therapy Assistant

Physical Therapy Assistant

SOC Code: 31-2021

 

Served Graduated Average JP Wages

72 28 $23.83

 

Summary of Career: Physical therapist assistants, sometimes called 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.

 

Projected Growth: In the Upper Rio Grande region, employment of physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 46% from 2012 to 2022. Demand for physical therapy services is expected to increase in response to the healthcare needs of an older population and individuals with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity. The Projected Annual Job Openings shown below refers to the average annual job openings due to growth and net replacement.

 

Upper Rio Grande Employment

2012

Upper Rio Grande

Employment

2022

Upper Rio Grande

2012-2022

Anticipated Growth

El Paso, TX

2014 Median Annual

Wage

130

190

46.2%

$68,400

Texas

Employment

2012

Texas

Employment

2022

Texas

2012-2022

Anticipated Growth

Texas

2014 Median Annual

Wage

5,180

7,150

38%

$68,400

U.S.

Employment

2014

U.S.

Employment

2024

U.S.

2014-2024

Anticipated Growth

U.S.

2015 Median Annual

Wage

78,700

110,700

41%

$55,170

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Note: The data for the Local and State Employment Trends and the National Employment Trends are not directly comparable. The projections period for local and state data is 2012-2022, while the projections period for national data is 2014-2024.

 

Education: All states require physical therapist assistants to have an associate’s degree from an accredited physical therapist assistant program. Programs typically last about 2 years. Classroom study includes courses in algebra, English, anatomy, physiology, and psychology. Assistants also gain hands-on experience during supervised clinical work.

 

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations: All states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed or certified. Licensure typically requires graduation from an accredited physical therapist assistant program and passing the National Physical Therapy Exam for physical therapist assistants administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Some states require that applicants pass additional state-administered exams, undergo a criminal background check, and be at least 18 years old. Physical therapist assistants also may need to take continuing education courses to keep their license.