The average Physical Therapist Assistant salary is $54,544 or $26.22 an hour. The data for PTA salary is an average taken from multiple sources as highlighted below.
As a Physical Therapist myself, I work with many Physical Therapist Assistants and see firsthand how a PTA can impact the lives of patients every day.
Physical Therapist Assistants are important health care providers who work directly with Physical Therapists in providing rehabilitation services to patients. PTAs manage their own caseload, which means they are responsible for continuing treatment sessions with patients after the Physical Therapist provides the evaluation.
Average Physical Therapist Assistant Salary: $54,544 or $26.22 an hour.
If you’re interested in a Physical Therapist salary, check out this article.
Salary may vary depending on the clinic setting, years of experience, and location. However, expecting between $25 and $30 an hour is a good estimate for PTA salary.
As you’ll see, the salary range will vary according to the sources below. However, each estimate is within 7% of the average salary of $54,544. A 5 to 10% variance in salary can be expected solely based on geographic region. The average salary is meant to give you an idea of what to expect in general across the profession and does not mean it is a guarantee in your area.
What is a Physical Therapist Assistant Salary?
The average Physical Therapist Assistant salary is $54,544 or $26.22 an hour. Salary may vary depending on the clinic setting, years of experience, and location. However, expecting between $25 and $30 an hour is a good estimate for PTA salary.
Physical Therapist Assistant Salary By Source:
APTA – Based on the 2016-17 PTA profile survey conducted by the APTA, the average salary for Physical Therapist Assistants is $52,000 a year or $25 per hour.
BLS – The Bureau of Labor Statistics places the median wage of a PTA at $58,040 or $27.90 an hour. The stats page for PTA also references PT aide salary at $26,240, which is not the same as a PTA.
GlassDoor – Based on the actual job listings on Glassdoor, you will see average hourly job listings between $25/hr and $30/hr. However, the large graphic on the homepage displays a much higher rate for PTAs that is inconsistent with the hourly rate from the posted jobs.
PayScale – With over 3,000 respondents, PayScale presents an average hourly rate of $25.58 ($49,602 per year) for an entry level PTA and $26.27 per hour ($54,641 per year) for someone with more than 5 years of experience.
LinkedIn – Compiled from data submitted from actual Physical Therapist Assistants, LinkedIn provides an average rate of $26.40/hr for PTAs in the United States. This amounts to just under $55,000 per year as an average salary for PTAs.
Do PTAs make a lot of money?
Physical Therapist Assistants make a good salary. Compared to the median household income in the United States ($59,039), a PTA salary of $54,544 is a healthy wage considering the costs associated with school (associates degree) and the overall job flexibility and work environment.
PTA Starting Salary
New PTA graduates can expect to earn lower than the average salary. According to the BLS, the average salary for the lowest paid (25th percentile) of PTAs is $46,800.
If we use a similar adjustment as above and apply a 7% variance in the average due to factors such as setting and region, a new grad PTA may expect to earn about $43,500 or $20.90 an hour.
These figures are not reflective of every specialty or job setting. For example a new grad PTA working in the home health setting can expect to earn more than a new grad PTA working in an outpatient clinic setting. Factors such as reimbursement and patient volume will affect the amount of pay you can expect as a new grad.
Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant Salary
A home health PTA can expect to earn more than the average PTA salary in an outpatient clinic. Home health PTA salary can reach $31 per hour or more depending on the state. This amounts to about $64,480 annually.
Of course, if you are employed at an agency that pays per visit, you have the potential to earn a significantly higher salary if you are willing to see more patients.
How to make more money as a PTA
If you are a PTA and need ways to earn extra money, you can use your skills to make more money as a PTA in the following ways:
- Pick up weekend hospital shifts
- Contact home health agencies for weekend opportunities
- Work at nursing homes or clinics on a PRN or part time basis for a higher rate.
What does a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) do?
The job responsibilities for Physical Therapist Assistants can include:
1. Provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a Physical Therapist.
This does not mean that a PTA needs to have a Physical Therapist right next to them while they treat a patient. Direct supervision simply means a Physical Therapist must be available to consult with the PTA at the clinic or via phone if the PTA works in home health.
Think about a physician’s assistant (PA) and your family doctor. You might see the PA for your entire visit. The same is true with a PTA. Your Physical Therapist reads the PTAs notes and conducts the evaluation, progress visits, and discharge. But the PTA can carry out the treatments as planned by the Physical Therapist.
2. PTAs collect data and progress patients with exercise and other treatments.
A physical therapist assistant is trained to collect measurements such as vital signs, ROM, strength testing, and many other special tests. They use this data to progress the patient with exercises or other treatments as part of the Physical Therapist’s plan of care.
The PTA and PT work together as a team to make sure the patient’s goals are met. As the PTA provides treatment and updates the Physical Therapist on the patient’s progress, the Physical Therapist is ultimately responsible to make sure the treatments and plan of care is appropriate for the patient.
3. PTAs perform a wide range of treatments for patients
As a Physical Therapist Assistant, you may perform treatments such as:
- Therapeutic exercise and progression
- Traction techniques
- Soft tissue massage and mobilizations
- Ultrasound and e-stim treatment
- Balance and gait training
- Motor learning and neurological interventions
- Patient education / caregiver education
- Adaptive device training and progression (crutches, canes, walkers, wheelchairs, orthotics, prosthetics, etc)
- Injury prevention
- Health and wellness promotion
4. PTAs may assist clinic managers or directors with tasks such as:
- Billing and coding management
- Quality improvement initiatives
- Medical record management
- Internal training of office staff and administrative tasks
Where do Physical Therapist Assistants Work?
The majority of PTAs work in the hospital setting and in private outpatient PT clinics. According to the APTA, about 72% of PTAs work in a hospital or private outpatient clinic and 28% of PTAs work part time.
Physical Therapist Assistants can also work in the following settings:
Acute Care – When a patient is admitted to a hospital, short term rehab may be provided by a PT or PTA in order to address functional deficits due to illness, surgery, or other medical issues. Hospital based PTAs enjoy working with a variety of patients and work to progress patients so they can discharge home or to a different facility.
Outpatient Clinics – This is the most common type of Physical Therapy setting and one that most people think of when referring to a PT clinic. In this setting, patients come to the clinic to be treated by a PT or PTA for musculoskeletal, neurological, or other movement related impairments.
Sub Acute Rehab – A patient may be admitted to a Sub Acute Rehabilitation facility after a stay at the hospital. In these settings, PTs and PTAs work to progress the patient to improve functional mobility so they can return home or to a long term facility like a nursing home or SNF.
Nursing Homes / Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) – These facilities often have patients who are admitted for long term stays but may also be used as an intermediary facility for patients who don’t have a place to go after a hospital stay. PTs and PTAs often work with an interdisciplinary team to help with rehab goals for the patients admitted to the facility.
Home Health Agencies – In this setting, Physical Therapy is provided in the person’s home. A therapist travels to the patient’s home and provides therapy services to individuals who are homebound or unable to safely go to an outpatient clinic. Home health therapy may be provided in multiple settings: in skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, group homes, hospice settings or in other places.
Schools – Physical Therapy services are often provided at schools for children who have developmental delay or need assistance with movement impairments.
Fitness or Training Centers – Physical therapy can be provided to individuals at fitness or training centers and even in group settings to promote wellness, prevention, and sports rehabilitation.
Industrial / Workplace Environments – Organizations may offer Physical Therapy services to employees for injury preventative seminars, ergonomic evaluation, return to work evaluations, and to improve overall safety in the workplace.
Local State / Government Agencies – Physical Therapy services are offered in the military, government hospitals such as the VA, and in other organizations such as the Indian Health Services (IHS).
Should I Become a PTA?
If you’re trying to figure out if the salary of a Physical Therapist Assistant is worth the time and effort it takes to become a PTA, you’re in the right place.
Let’s consider the cost of attending a 2 year associates level program to become a Physical Therapist Assistant.
According to the CAPTE data collected in 2018-19, the average annual cost for attending a PTA program is as follows:
Public Program: $12,448 per year
Private Program: $38,922 per year
As most PTA programs are two years in total, the tuition cost for becoming a Physical Therapist assistant can range from $25,000 to $80,000 or more depending on whether you attend a public institution or a private program.
The ability to enter the healthcare industry just 2 years after high school with the potential to earn more than $50,000 a year as a Physical Therapist Assistant places this profession at high demand.
Watch Out for Student Loans!
If you are interested in becoming a PTA, you cannot afford to sign up for any open seat at private universities that leave you with close to $100,000 in student loans.
However, new students should be cautious not to overspend on the degree. Some private programs charge upwards of $60,000 a year for tuition to become a PTA! Graduating with over $100,000 in student loans for an Associate’s degree that averages $55,000 a year does not make sense financially for most people.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid taking out student loans that total more than one year of the average salary for your profession.
While this may be difficult to accomplish due to the rising costs of programs across the country, it is still possible to do by seeking out public PTA programs and keeping costs to a minimum while attending PTA school.
How Do I Become a PTA?
If you are interested in becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant, you will need to apply to a 2 year associates program at an accredited PTA program.
Before you commit the time to a PTA program, be 100% confident in your decision to become a PTA by shadowing at multiple clinics for at least 100 to 200 hours.
If you decide that being a PTA is right for you, apply for and enroll in a PTA program – try to get into an affordable public program!
Once you’ve completed the classroom and clinical requirements, you’ll need to pass a boards exam in order to receive your license to practice as a PTA.
In just 2 years, you can complete your dream of helping people in the field of Physical Therapy, working side to side with other PTAs and PTs in a variety of settings.
Physical Therapy is a great field that affects people in so many positive ways. If you have questions on becoming a PTA or other related questions to the field, leave a comment or follow PTProgress on YouTube for relevant career development resources for Physical Therapy professions.