14 Pros and Cons of Being a Physical Therapist Assistant

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If you’re looking to make a change of career and do something where you can help people and feel like your job is rewarding, becoming a physical therapy assistant might be the right path for you.

As a physical therapy assistant, you’ll be helping people recover from accidents or medical conditions that have made it difficult or impossible to move their bodies properly.

Through regular sessions with you, practice doing basic motions, and the right exercises to target key muscles, you can help them rebuild strength and return to regular life.

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Pros of Being a Physical Therapist Assistant

You can help people of all ages recover from injury

Rewarding

Working as a physical therapist’s assistant, you can help people of all ages recover from injury or choose to work specifically with children or seniors.

Helping these people significantly can help you feel fulfilled and satisfied with your career.

Your help can make a real, visible difference in their lives and touch them in a way they won’t soon forget.

High Average Pay

The average physical therapist assistant makes a decent salary and benefits while working a regular schedule with no overtime.

Estimates show that the average salary for this position across the United States exceeds $90,000.

This can increase as you grow more experienced or start to specialize in a certain part of the field.

Constant Demand

The growth in these positions is expected to exceed other fields, and physical therapist’s assistants should have no problem finding work once fully trained and qualified.

Reports show that these positions will remain in high demand through 2030 as projected by the BLS.

As long as people continue to get injured or struggle with medical conditions, there will always be work for physical therapists and their support staff.

Reasonable Working Hours

Most physical therapists assistants work regular office hours and have weekends and holidays off.

This is an advantage over emergency medical providers who may have to work late nights and weekends to help patients when they are in critical condition.

As a physical therapy assistant, you can have the satisfaction of working in the medical field without the crazy hours and high stress.

Ability to Specialize

There are many specialties within the practice of physical therapy, allowing you to choose what area you’d like to work in.

For example, if you’ve always wanted to work with children, you can specialize in pediatrics.

If you are passionate about athletics, sports medicine can be your area of expertise.

Specializing allows you to grow your knowledge and become an expert in one area, raising your profile and reputation.

Possibility of Employment Flexibility

Physical therapy assistants can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, doctor’s offices, schools, and physical therapy clinics.

You can choose which of these settings works best for your personality and skill set.

For example, if you are good at keeping calm under pressure and like the challenge of constantly working with new patients, the hospital might be the best choice.

If you prefer the satisfaction of working with the same patients for a longer time, clinics might be better.

With the skills and certifications you hold, you can work only the hours or days you want and still make enough to pay your bills.

Constantly Being Challenged

While there is a certain amount of repetition and paperwork involved in being a physical therapist’s assistant, most of the time you are constantly being challenged with new patients and conditions, coming up with ways to help them, and learning about new techniques and tools in the industry.

This ensures that you stay interested in the field as time goes on.

Cons of Being a Physical Therapist Assistant

How the major systems of the body work

Education Requirements

To become a physical therapist assistant, you will need to attend an accredited program at a college or university.

In these programs, you’ll learn about how the major systems of the bodywork, what causes injury to muscles and bones, common approaches to help rehabilitate patients after injury, and how to complete the necessary paperwork.

This knowledge will help you on the job and allow you to build a foundation on which to grow your career.

Cost of Education

Like pursuing any new kind of degree or career training, learning to be a physical therapist assistant can be an expensive pursuit.

In addition to tuition for classes, you’ll need books and materials to attend.

You can pursue student loans to cover these costs, but they are notoriously difficult to pay off.

There might be student loans or grants you can get to offset these costs, but it will take effort on your part to apply for and get these funds.

Length of Training Time

Learning everything you need to know to work as a physical therapist assistant takes time that you may not feel you have.

After completing your studies, you may want to complete some on-the-job training to be sure you are confident in your skills.

Overall, this process can take anywhere from two to three years, longer if you are not taking a full-time course load at school.

This is often the case for adult students who are going back to school to change careers and have to work to support themselves while in school, leaving them unable to take a full course load.

Physical Demands of Being a Physical Therapist Assistant

The job of a physical therapy assistant can be more physically taxing than you initially realize.

Part of the job is helping patients with limited mobility get around and learn to move on their own again, which can mean lifting them or letting them lean on you for support.

You may have to transfer them from a wheelchair to a piece of workout equipment or hold on to them while they use a walker to take steps.

This can be hard on your back and feet, especially after multiple years in the industry.

Licensing Requirements

In addition to getting educated and the costs associated with that process, some states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed.

This keeps patients safe and ensures that professionals working on patients are adequately qualified.

You may have to take a licensing exam and pay the associated fees to get the initial license and renew it as time goes on.

This ongoing expense should be factored into your calculations of how much you expect to take home from your employment, as it is a required cost.

Possible Issues With Patients

You’ll have to deal with patients from all walks of life as a physical therapy assistant.

Some will be dealing with the trauma of having recently been in an accident or being diagnosed with a serious medical condition.

They may be unwilling to participate in activities or exercises they need to do to get better, which can make them unpleasant or combative.

You may encounter language barriers and differences of opinion that make it difficult to work with certain patients who come in.

If you are not the kind of person who enjoys dealing with people from all walks of life, this can wear you out and leave you disillusioned with the job.

Exposure to Contagious Conditions

Post Covid-19, everyone is more concerned about the possibility of being exposed to germs and viruses.

As a physical therapy assistant, you’ll be in close contact with members of the public and will have to be vigilant to take the necessary precautions to avoid getting anything contagious.

You may need to carry the patient, help them get up, or allow them to lean on you, which means you will be in close quarters with them to do your job properly.

For some people who have pre-existing conditions or are overly concerned about exposure, this can be a deterrent to joining the field.

Should You Become a Physical Therapist Assistant?

Physical therapy assistants are very in demand

Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant can be very rewarding for those who want to help people get back to full health and return to their normal lives.

Watching someone walk again for the first time can give you a level of career satisfaction that you aren’t likely to get from working in other fields.

You’ll also have a high level of career security and make a decent salary for the work you do, as physical therapy assistants are very in demand and look likely to stay that way over the next ten years.

Pros and Cons of Being a Physical Therapist Assistant Summary Table

Pros of Being a Physical Therapist AssistantCons of Being a Physical Therapist Assistant
RewardingEducation Requirements
High Average PayCost of Education
Constant DemandLength of Training Time
Reasonable Working HoursPhysical Demands of Being a Physical Therapist Assistant
Ability to SpecializeLicensing Requirements
Possibility of Employment FlexibilityPossible Issues With Patients
Constantly Being ChallengedExposure to Contagious Conditions

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