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Physical Therapy Assistant Salary: Prospects for Physical Therapists

By Brendan Conway updated on Monday, January 28, 2013

You went through the process of looking for undergraduate physical therapy schools. You examined each, and carefully chose the program that's best for you. You attended, worked hard, and came out with your associate's degree. You took the tests, filled out the forms, and registered with your state of residence. You're ready and raring to go.

So...how much money can you expect to earn?

Knowing the average physical therapy assistant salary is even more important if you're trying to decide whether or not physical therapy is a good path for you. After all you don't want to pursue a course if you're not going to be able to pay off your debts, or earn enough money to live the way you want. So, even before you start down the path to earning your physical therapy assistant's degree, you're probably looking and asking...what's the average physical therapy assistant salary?

What's your physical therapy assistant salary likely to be?

Physical therapy assistant salaries can vary wildly depending upon exactly what you're doing with the degree. That's part of the problem in talking about the average physical therapy assistant salary.

Salaries for physical therapy assistants working in school districts are going to be entirely different from physical therapy assistant salaries at private health clinics or hospitals. So you do have to take into account where you hope or plan to work when you're trying to figure out what your likely physical therapy assistant salary will be.

On a very basic level, for starting out physical therapy assistants, fresh out of their physical therapy assistant schools, each with less than a year of experience, the average physical therapy assistant salary is close to $18 an hour. That amounts to about $35k per year in salary, not including taxes.

The average physical therapy assistant salary for someone who's stayed at the same job for a few years goes as high as $24 per hour if the physical therapy assistants in question remain for up to four years, and $26, if they stay for nine. Over a year, those hourly wages work out to about $50k and $55k, respectively. This represents the higher end of the average physical therapy assistant salaries for those who have raised their wages through time and experience.

How can I increase my physical therapy assistant salary?

There's a good way to increase your physical therapy assistant salary, without necessarily finding a brand new job at a newer, higher-playing place. If physical therapy assistants continue their educations past their times in physical therapy assistant schools, then they can actually earn healthcare certifications that might make them more valuable employees.

For example, a CPR certification (which many physical therapy assistants will often earn during their time working in clinics in physical therapy assistant programs) can raise their average salaries to about $22 per hour.

A Basic Life Support certification can help any physical therapy assistant to start earning closer to $24 per hour, and an athletic training certification might raise it to $20 per hour.

There are many more certifications that a physical therapy assistant might pursue and earn, including a massage therapy certification. Even becoming a fully-registered physical therapist assistant (which anyone in the career should do anyway) will increase the physical therapy assistant salary you'll likely be able to earn.

The bottom line about physical therapy assistant salaries

If you're looking for a cold, hard figure to proceed from, then you can take this: the median physical therapy assistant salary in the United States is $45,669. But taking into account how much physical therapy assistant salaries can vary based on factors like certifications and years of experience, as well as place of employment, you should understand that this is a pretty rough guide to what you can expect.

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About the Author

Brendan Conway is the Web Content Editor for Peterson's Interactive and is well-versed in the world of higher education and admissions. He is a graduate of Hamilton College, and has been working in admissions advice, test-prep advice, career planning advice, and similar fields for the majority of his career since graduation. Brendan endeavors to provide the most relevant, useful, and interesting information via Peterson's Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds. Brendan enjoys lexicological oddities and voraciously reading in his free time.

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