What is a Physical Therapy Assistant

A physical therapy assistant (also known as Physical Therapy Technician, Physiotherapy Assistant, Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, or simply LPTA) is a health care provider who uses physical treatment procedures to help patients improve motor function and mobility, while alleviating pain and disability caused by disease or injury. For more on job duties, please visit our physical therapy assistant job description page.

Where do Physical Therapy Assistants Work

Over 50% of physical therapy assistants work in ambulatory health care services and 28% work in hospitals. You will also find them in inpatient
rehibitation facilities, extended care facilities, education/research centers, homes, schools, industrial/workplace environments, fitness centers, and sports training facilities.

Work Schedule

Physical therapy assistants work typical full time hours. They will also be expected to work evenings and weekends as most clinics are open during those times.

How Much Does a Physical Therapist Assistant Make

The average annual physical therapy assistant salary is $52,320 per year. The average salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and dividing that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $32,420 and the top 10% makes over $72,720.

Physical Therapy Assistant Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Mean Salary$52,320 per year
$25.15 per hour
Top 10% Salary$72,720 per year
$34.96 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$32,420 per year
$15.59 per hour
Number of Jobs, 201269,810

Physical Therapy Assistant Job Outlook and Prospects

This profession is one of the fastest growing sectors of the healthcare industry. The projected growth rate of jobs for physical therapy assistants is 41% between 2012 and 2022, producing approximately 29,300 new jobs during this time.

This change is a result of the rapid development of therapy in conjunction with traditional medical treatment, making it an effective form of alternative treatment for patients. Also, as baby boomers age, they are benefitting substantially from physical therapy assistants, placing this job in higher demand. Other factors contributing to this growth increase are:

  • Increase in senior population entering the age group prone to strokes and heart attacks
  • Advancement in medical technology, making it possible for newborns with defects and severely injured victims to survive
  • High cost of hiring physical therapists that will cause many healthcare establishments to rely heavily on the services of physical therapist assistants
  • Lifting restrictions on insurance coverage for physical therapy services

Physical Therapy Assistant Salary: Factors and Influences

In the past 2 years alone, the median annual wage for physical therapy assistants has risen from $49,690 to $52,160. This reflects an increase of almost 5% in just a couple of years, making the future of this career extremely optimistic in terms of both available positions and salary growth.

However, not all physical therapist assistants will make the same amount of money. This is increasingly true when you consider a variety of influential factors such as experience and training, industry, and location.

Experience and Training

Experience is even more important in this industry than others, especially because it is rather small. Therefore, many individuals end up competing for the jobs in the same industry.  After earning initial certification through a certified school, individuals in this occupation can also return to school for further specialization. This includes certification in geriatric care, pediatric care, musculoskeletal therapy, massage therapy, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Basic Life Support (BLS) and many other fields as well. Therefore, improvements are typically a result of both experience and further training.


Not surprisingly, there are certain industries for physical therapy assistants that pay more because they require more specialized skills. However, this is not always the case when it comes to the top paying industries for physical therapy assistants. Home health care services, nursing care facilities, and continuing care retirement communities are all considered top paying industries, although some employ a significant number of individuals. Private institutions in the industries mentioned are likely to warrant higher salaries in contrast to public facilities, suggesting that finding a private institution within a top paying industry is likely to result in the highest pay.


The highest paying areas for physical therapy assistants are primarily located on the West coast, although there are states throughout the country that are also considered top paying states. This can potentially be correlated with the population of aging individuals, as this may place a higher demand for skilled physical therapists in private nursing home and retirement communities. Just some of the top paying states include Texas, Nevada, and California.

Most metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas that are considered top paying locations are located within Texas, especially in smaller towns that sometimes employ as little as 30 physical therapy assistants. Many of these areas are affluent as well, meaning that individuals within the community, regardless of where they are working, are likely to earn more money.

Physical Therapy Assistant Salary: Top 5

Top Paying Metropolitan AreasTop Paying StatesTop Paying IndustriesStates with Highest Employment Level
Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL: $77,230Texas: $65,620Home Health Care Services: $60,730Ohio: (5,090 jobs) $55,110
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX: $75,840Nevada: $61,180Employment Services: $59,730Texas: (5,040 jobs) $65,620
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX: $75,490New Jersey: $59,630Nursing Care Facilities: $57,540Florida: (4,630 jobs) $57,340
Modesto, CA: $72,310California: $59,570Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals: $57,450California: (4,630 jobs) $59,570
Victoria,TX: $71,700Connecticut: $57,620Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities: $56,370Pennsylvania: (4,170 jobs) $43,630