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How do I Become a Physical Therapy Aide?

By Jessica Reed
Updated May 17, 2024
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A physical therapy aide is responsible for maintaining and organizing the facility where physical therapy takes places. To become a physical therapy aide, only a high school degree is required and training is usually provided on the job. Certain traits and skills, such as a caring personality and upper body strength, will make the job easier. A physical therapy aide is not the same job as a physical therapy assistant, which requires an associate's degree.

The aide maintains and prepares the different equipment a patient will use. Often, the aide watches the therapy sessions and helps the patients move to a new location if help is needed. They may take on clerical duties, such as filing and preparing a patient's chart before therapy. A physical therapist, or occasionally a physical therapy assistant, usually oversees the physical therapy aide.

Those who want to become a physical therapy aide should complete high school and look for job openings at a physical therapy office or clinic. In most cases, a physical therapist will train the aide on the job. To become a physical therapy aide, the interested person should also consider if he enjoys working with others, can follow orders, and is comfortable only working part time if full-time work is unavailable.

After working in the physical therapy field, a person may wish to move up to be a physical therapy assistant or physical therapist. A physical therapy assistant requires an associate's degree and license to work in most areas. A physical therapist, on the other hand, requires a master's or doctoral degree, which takes several years of hard work to earn.

Considering other areas of interest in case jobs are not immediately available is a smart step for those who wish to become a physical therapy aide. The job market in this field is generally strong. The number of people applying is large, however, and a lot of competition may exist for available jobs.

Good physical fitness is important to become a physical therapy aide. The aide will need to lift patients and help them move around. Lots of bending and walking are required on the job. Exercise can help increase strength and mobility for those interested in the job but who are out of shape. This also reduces the risks of injury on the job caused by lifting too much or improper lifting techniques.

While no special education is required to become a physical therapy aide, it's important for the person to consider whether he would enjoy the job or not. Patients have trouble moving and experience different levels of discomfort or pain. Compassion is an important trait to have, and those who enjoy helping others will like this line of work more than those who prefer to work alone or who have problems seeing a patient in discomfort.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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