According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median salary for a physical therapy assistant was $49,600 as of May 2010, with some earning more and some earning less.
The top 10% of earners had wages that exceeded $60,000 annually and the lowest 10% had wages that fell slightly below $31,000. However, there are several factors that can affect physical therapy assistant salary and wages which can include but is not limited to education, employment setting and professional licenses and certifications.
Role of Education and Experience Physical Therapy Assistant Salary
The majority of states will require that the physical therapy assistant possess at least a minimum of an associate degree. While this is the most common degree program for the physical therapy assistant, also referred to as a PTA, there are bachelor degree programs available.
Those that have a bachelor degree in physical therapy assisting may earn slightly more than those with the traditional associate degree. Most employers do not require anything beyond the associate degree. Clinical experience will also account for some of the trends in salary. As a general rule of thumb, those with more experience will earn more.
Professional Licenses and Certifications
Almost every state and territory in the United States requires some type of license to practice as a physical therapy assistant. This involves graduating from an approved program and taking and successfully passing a national exam.
However, some states may also require that the graduate also take an additional exam provided by that state. Although there are a few areas that may not require these credentials, it does not mean that the majority of employers within that region will not. In addition, PTA salaries may be higher for those that possess these credentials in comparison to the PTA who does not in these areas.
Last but not least, physical therapy assistant salary will also vary depending on the specific employer and the setting. PTA’s are employed in several different health care settings which can include hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient physical therapy centers and even home health agencies.
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The setting can play a significant role on salary, which will also vary from one state territory to the next and demands. For example, if an area is experiencing a shortage of physical therapy professionals for the aging population, skilled nursing facilities may offer higher wages as an incentive to attract and retain these services in that particular area.