Physical Therapist Assistant Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Physical Therapist Assistant, or Physical Therapist Aide, works with Physical Therapists to help disabled, injured, sick and elderly people live healthy and active lives. Their primary duties include helping patients regain movements and manage pain after injuries, monitoring the patient’s progress and reporting results of each patient to the Physical Therapist. 


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Physical Therapist Assistant duties and responsibilities 

Physical Therapist Assistants may spend much of their shift standing or walking while working with patients. This can be a physically demanding job, as they may have to lift patients out of bed and help them walk. They may also squat, kneel or be in uncomfortable positions repeatedly while helping patients. Other duties and responsibilities of a Physical Therapist include:

  • Educating and counselling patients about the different ways to improve their health conditions 
  • Monitoring the performance of patients during and after therapy, checking their status and informing Physical Therapists 
  • Providing emotional and psychological support to patients, their friends and family members
  • Providing treatment to patients using various therapeutic methods such as massage, stretching and exercises 
  • Keeping up with the latest research and trends in the health industry 
  • Helping patients use medical devices and equipment such as walkers 
  • Cleaning treatment areas and therapy equipment after usage 
  • Ensuring that all health, safety and ethical standards are adhered to 


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What does a Physical Therapist Assistant do? 

Under the supervision of Physical Therapists at patients’ homes, fitness centres, nursing homes, clinics and hospitals, a Physical Therapist Assistant provides rehabilitation services to individuals who have limited function or mobility. They may monitor patient performance, operate medical equipment and teach patients therapeutic exercises. 

A Physical Therapist Assistant may work during the weekday and sometimes on the weekend depending on their employer. Much of their shifts are during the day, but they may need to work in the evening to see patients. 


Physical Therapist Assistant skills and qualifications 

Physical Therapists need a range of skills and qualifications to perform their duties effectively. These skills and qualifications include:

  • Excellent patient management, time management and organisation skills 
  • Active listening skills and ability to follow instructions 
  • Strong physical stamina and ability to work on their feet for long periods 
  • Proficiency with therapeutic devices and equipment 
  • In-depth understanding of therapeutic and physiology practices and standards 
  • Ability to maintain hygiene practices 
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills 
  • Interpersonal skills and thorough attention to detail


Physical Therapist Assistant experience requirements 

A Physical Therapist Assistant usually needs at least three years of clinical, health or social care experience, either in paid employment or voluntary work, to qualify for the role. Candidates with proven work experience as Physical Therapist Assistants are preferred. Those who have additional experience performing therapeutic exercises such as massages, functional training or physical modalities can be considered. Apprenticeships in healthcare can provide candidates with experience to apply for a Physical Therapist Assistant role. 


Physical Therapist Assistant education and training requirements 

There are no set education and training requirements for Physical Therapist Assistants. Employers expect good literacy and numeracy. Employers may ask for General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs) in maths and English. They may also ask for Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) or equivalent vocational qualification in social and health care. 

Employers usually require Physical Therapist to complete on-the-job training, which teaches candidates about the organisation’s policy and procedures and how to set up and use the equipment. Some employers require candidates to obtain industry-recognised certifications, such as the NCFE CACHE level 2 Certificate in Healthcare Support Services and the NCFE CACHE level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support.


Physical Therapist Assistant salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary of a Physical Therapist Assistant in the United Kingdom is £23,262 per year. Their actual salary varies depending on several factors, including experience, education, location and company. 


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Physical Therapist Assistant FAQs


What's the difference between a Physical Therapist and a Physical Therapist Assistant?

Physical Therapists (PTs) and Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) carry out many of the same basic duties such as helping patients in exercise and stretches, but some key characteristics set them apart. Physical Therapists are primarily concerned with diagnosing patients and creating a rehabilitation programme that’s customised to the prognosis of the patient. Physical Therapist Assistants are primarily concerned with preparing patients to be diagnosed  and assisting in the implementation of the rehabilitation plan. 


How can you make your Physical Therapist Assistant job description stand out?

To make your Physical Therapist Assistant job description stand out, make sure it details the reporting lines and working relationships of the position. Reporting lines clarify the position’s responsibilities by indicating who the applicant reports to and who reports to them. This gives the applicant an insight into the company’s hierarchical structure and how their role fits into it. 


What qualities make a good Physical Therapist Assistant?

Good Physical Therapist Assistants enjoy helping people. They have empathy to help their patients and are courteous and friendly. 

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