Physical Therapist Aides
Under close supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant, perform only delegated, selected, or routine tasks in specific situations. These duties include preparing the patient and the treatment area.
Sample of reported job titles: Physical Therapist Aide (PTA), Physical Therapy Aide (PTA), Physical Therapy Attendant, Rehabilitation Aide, Rehabilitation Attendant, Restorative Aide (RA)
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Clean and organize work area and disinfect equipment after treatment.
- Instruct, motivate, safeguard, or assist patients practicing exercises or functional activities, under direction of medical staff.
- Record treatment given and equipment used.
- Administer active or passive manual therapeutic exercises, therapeutic massage, or heat, light, sound, water, or electrical modality treatments, such as ultrasound.
- Transport patients to and from treatment areas, using wheelchairs or providing standing support.
- Change linens, such as bed sheets and pillow cases.
- Secure patients into or onto therapy equipment.
- Schedule patient appointments with physical therapists and coordinate therapists’ schedules.
- Observe patients during treatment to compile and evaluate data on patients’ responses and progress and report to physical therapist.
- Confer with physical therapy staff or others to discuss and evaluate patient information for planning, modifying, or coordinating treatment.
- Arrange treatment supplies to keep them in order.
- Perform clerical duties, such as taking inventory, ordering supplies, answering telephone, taking messages, or filling out forms.
- Maintain equipment or furniture to keep it in good working condition, including performing the assembly or disassembly of equipment or accessories.
- Assist patients to dress, undress, or put on and remove supportive devices, such as braces, splints, or slings.
- Measure patient’s range-of-joint motion, body parts, or vital signs to determine effects of treatments or for patient evaluations.
- Administer traction to relieve neck or back pain, using intermittent or static traction equipment.
- Train patients to use orthopedic braces, prostheses, or supportive devices.
- Fit patients for orthopedic braces, prostheses, or supportive devices, adjusting fit as needed.
- Participate in patient care tasks, such as assisting with passing food trays, feeding residents, or bathing residents on bed rest.
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- Calendar and scheduling software — Scheduling software
- Electronic mail software — Microsoft Outlook
- Medical software — Epic Systems ; Medical procedure coding software; MEDITECH software ; Patient record maintenance software
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Therapy and Counseling — Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
- Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
- Administrative — Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
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- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
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- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
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- Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Clean patient rooms or patient treatment rooms.
- Clean medical equipment.
- Encourage patients during therapeutic activities.
- Engage patients in exercises or activities.
- Maintain medical records.
- Administer therapy treatments to patients using hands or physical treatment aids.
- Move patients to or from treatment areas.
- Hold patients to ensure proper positioning or safety.
- Assess physical conditions of patients to aid in diagnosis or treatment.
- Monitor patient progress or responses to treatments.
- Schedule patient procedures or appointments.
- Confer with other professionals to plan patient care.
- Administer basic health care or medical treatments.
- Prepare medical instruments or equipment for use.
- Inventory medical supplies or equipment.
- Perform clerical work in medical settings.
- Assist patients with daily activities.
- Maintain medical equipment or instruments.
- Teach medical procedures or medical equipment use to patients.
- Fit patients for assistive devices.
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- Face-to-Face Discussions — 98% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 92% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Physical Proximity — 84% responded “Very close (near touching).”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 68% responded “Extremely important.”
- Exposed to Disease or Infections — 65% responded “Every day.”
- Telephone — 57% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 85% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Standing — 36% responded “More than half the time.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 42% responded “Some freedom.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 56% responded “Very important.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 42% responded “Some freedom.”
- Spend Time Walking and Running — 38% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 52% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 34% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 41% responded “Extremely important.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 40% responded “Every day.”
- Consequence of Error — 31% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 49% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body — 29% responded “More than half the time.”
- Electronic Mail — 49% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 27% responded “Important results.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 36% responded “High responsibility.”
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 38% responded “More than half the time.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 38% responded “Never.”
- Deal With External Customers — 31% responded “Important.”
- Frequency of Conflict Situations — 42% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
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|Title||Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed|
|Education||These occupations usually require a high school diploma.|
|Related Experience||Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include orderlies, counter and rental clerks, customer service representatives, security guards, upholsterers, and tellers.|
|SVP Range||(4.0 to < 6.0)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|42||High school diploma or equivalent
|15||Some college, no degree|
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Interest code: SR Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
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- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
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- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$13.68 hourly, $28,450 annual|
|Employment (2020)||46,700 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Much faster than average (15% or higher)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||7,400|
|Top industries (2020)||
Health Care and Social Assistance
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- American Heart Association
- American Massage Therapy Association
- American Occupational Therapy Association
- American Physical Therapy Association
- National Athletic Trainers’ Association
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Physical therapist assistants and aides
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