Between the aging baby-boomer population in the United States and injuries from sports or work accidents, healthcare has seen a growing demand for medical professionals to rehabilitate injured people and get them back to their lives. With steady growth anticipated, becoming a physical therapy assistant is a career track that offers many different opportunities for work.
Here are 10 career options for those with a Physical Therapist Assistant Degree:
Most rehabilitation centers are connected hospitals, where cases are generally inpatients who are recovering from a serious injury or surgery. The goal in this setting is to facilitate a more intense therapy experience for the individuals to allow them to care for themselves and return home safely.
Outpatient clinics are mainly private practice physical therapy offices where doctors or hospitals may refer a patient for orthopedic or other types of related muscular injuries or impairments. Salary tends to depend on the reputation of the facility, median wage in the particular city or state, and location of the office.
Skilled nursing care often involves longer term care provided mostly to elderly patients who cannot adequately care for themselves. Physical therapist assistants address some of the physical reasons the patient is having trouble such as weakness or coordination. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 2012, 11% of the industries hiring physical therapist assistants were nursing home or skilled nursing facilities.
Extended Care Facilities
Extended care facilities can be a nursing home for elderly patients or a recovery center for all kinds of people needing care and recovery outside of a hospital. These patients need intensive physical therapy to regain function from injury or surgery.
Sports Training Facilities
Sports training facilities hire physical therapist assistants to help athletes develop an exercise routine or improve strength, mobility, and range of motion after an injury. These facilities often treat athletes from a junior high to professional level. Most high-level training facilities are separate and pay more to train professional athletes. Therapists may be required to have sports specialization or more knowledge/experience to get the job.
Physical therapy assistants working in hospitals work with patients immediately following an accident or surgery though this may not always be the work environment. Psychiatric and substance abuse facilities may require an in-house physical therapist assistant.
As part of home care, physical therapist assistants are required to perform physical therapy at an individual's residence. Patient needs for home care could vary from the elderly to small children with physical disabilities that need improvement. Home-visit physical therapy assistants are usually some of the better paid positions, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics finding the annual mean wage at $61,500.
Physical therapy is given to students at school to assist them with learning and mobility to become more independent and able to function better in school. Physical therapists usually work with teachers and parents to provide the best care for the student.
An occupational therapist assistant helps patients re-learn or improve diminished skills that they need to live and work independently. The primary goal is to help the patient return to work or be able to work better and safer. A majority of occupational therapist assistants work in hospital environments or private occupational therapists' offices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for occupational therapist assistants is $53,240, and the job growth rate for an is the same as a physical therapist assistant at 41%.
Physical therapist assistants may work at a fitness center to provide a more tailored workout to a wider variety of individuals who may have minor injuries to consider while exercising. Salary and career growth for a fitness center is dependent on the individual center but larger facilities may allow for better pay, benefits and scheduling.
There’s No Time to Waste!
If this sounds like the kind of career you’ve been looking for, consider ECPI University. Through its year-round program, you can earn an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Physical Therapist Assisting in just 1.5 years. It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!
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