Physical Therapy Assistant vs Physical Therapy Aide

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Physical Therapist Assistants and aides both work under the supervision of a physical therapist as support members. However, physical therapist assistant is a field that requires more education, and physical therapist aides are usually trained after becoming employed, do not require certification or credentialing, and can seek employment directly after graduating from high school.


As physical therapy aides and assistants, you will be the link between patients and fellow professionals in the physical therapy world.

You’ll help with clerical tasks and needs, such as answering phones and scheduling appointments. You may prepare treatment areas or provide assistance during treatments.

Both careers are great options for those who want to work in the healthcare field. They require a high school diploma or equivalent, can be full-time positions, and don’t require formal training (on-the-job training is usually enough).

Difference between physical therapy aide and assistant

The main difference between these two positions is the level of treatment provided to patients. The PT Aide does not directly engage in patient treatment, but rather supports the physical therapist and assistant by performing clerical duties and preparing equipment, among other tasks.

Conversely, the physical therapy assistant has a more hands-on role, helping implement patient treatment plans under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. As such, they require a higher level of education and have a higher salary than aides.

Which physical therapy career right for you?

As you can see, the comparison table above clearly shows that there are some significant differences between a physical therapy aide and a physical therapy assistant. Both roles are helping people recover and manage their pain, but the education required to do that is very different.

If you’re not sure which career will be right for you, try to get more information about the requirements; in particular: How much time and money is it going to take me to achieve this? What’s my life going to look like while I’m working on this? And of course, what kind of work am I going to be doing afterwards?

Getting Certified

If you’re passionate about helping people and physical therapy sounds interesting to you, look into educational opportunities in your area.

If you think being a physical therapist assistant or aide might be for you, then the next step is to get more information about the field. Reach out to physical therapy assistants and aides in your area and ask what they like and don’t like about their jobs. If possible, try volunteering at a local hospital or clinic that employs PTA’s or PT Aides. Many of these facilities will offer training programs as well—and even if they don’t, there are hundreds of schools across the country that do.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job prospects for PTA’s are excellent right now, with much faster than average growth projected for the next several years due to an aging population increasing demand for health care services such as physical therapy.

Physical therapy aides are also expected to see strong job growth over this time period due to an increase in chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity leading patients seeking treatment from health care professionals including PT Aides.

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