Physical Therapist Assistant Job Market Trends

In the next decade, physical therapist assistant jobs will increase, if you want a shot at a physical therapist assistant job, you will probably need an associate's degree. Almost all states require a degree in the field if you want to compete for positions.

Requirements

Physical therapist assistants, unlike aides, are not trained on the job. A physical therapy assistant has usually completed a 2-year associate’s degree in the field, usually from one of the programs accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association. The "Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education" section of the APTA website provides a listing by state with links to each of the accredited schools. According to the APTA website, 48 states and the District of Columbia require that physical therapist assistants are certified, registered or licensed to practice in their state of employment.

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, available jobs for physical therapist assistants will grow much faster than average, or in other words, employment will increase by 20 percent or more between 2008 and 2018. Job prospects are also supposed to be “very good,” which means that there may be more job openings than eligible applicants in this field.

According to the SimplyHired Job Trends for physical therapist assistants, since October 2008, job postings for physical therapist assistants have increased by 20 percent. There are some peaks and troughs in their graph, however, with the more positions advertised in the summer of 2009 and fewer available in winter 2009. Currently the graph does show an upward trend for positions.

Salary

The SimplyHired Salary Trends for physical therapist assistants states that the average nationwide salary is $47,000 per year. This statistic only reflects the job postings indexed by this search engine and only job postings that include salary information.

According to the BLS, the mean annual salary for physical therapist assistants is $48,590. The three top-paying states in this field include Texas, California and Nevada. The top-paying metropolitan areas include Mission, Texas; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Ventura, California. The top-paying employers are found in home health care, which offers a mean annual wage of $60,360. Other top-paying sectors that report an annual salary higher than the national average are nursing care facilities and facilities for the elderly.

Finding Employment

The APTA website offers a job bank for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants, and it is accessible from their website. It is also a good idea for you to use niche job boards, which focus on health care, to find available positions. One such job board, Hospital Jobs Online, allows you to search by state, job title and even zip code, should you be limited to a specific locale.

Other good sources of job opportunities will include vertical search engines, such as Indeed, or school-organized career fairs focused on the health care industry. If you graduated from a physical therapist assistant program, contact the school or contact local schools in the state, to see if you are able to attend as an alumnus or as a trained assistant in the field.