Physical Therapy Assistant Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Physical Therapy
Assistant Do?

Physical therapy assistants (PTAs) work under the supervision of physical therapists (PTs) to help rehabilitate patients who are working to regain their full range of motion and strengthen injured or atrophied muscle groups. PTAs typically work one-on-one with patients, tailoring their therapy sessions to the individual. They provide and assist patients with appropriate stretches and exercises, instruct them on how to safely use rehabilitative equipment and tools, and monitor and record their progress. Physical therapy assistants need to be caring, compassionate, and empathetic toward patients. 

Physical therapist assistants should have exceptional communication skills and excellent attention to detail. They must adhere to ethical and legal standards at all times and stay current with new techniques and exercises, and training tools and equipment. A solid knowledge of physiology best practices and standards is a requirement for this role. PTAs may work with newborns, senior citizens, or anyone in between and must be able to adjust their level of communication and care accordingly. PTAs should enjoy helping people regain a level of independence, reach their goals, and lead more active lives.

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National Average Salary

Physical therapy assistant salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Physical Therapy Assistant is:


Physical Therapy Assistant Job Descriptions

The first step when hiring a great physical therapy assistant is a well-crafted job description. Below are real-world examples to help give you the best chance of success on your recruiting journey.

Example 1

We’re looking for a top-rated physical therapist assistant to join our in-house PT clinic. As an ideal candidate, you are licensed and have proven experience treating patients with medical problems or other conditions that limit their ability to move or perform normal activities. You will be responsible for supporting and assisting the physical therapist and/or clinic director to implement an individualized plan of care through all phases of physical therapy. [Your Company Name] provides compassionate and high-quality care through a comprehensive, thorough, evidence-based physical therapy regimen, restoring patients to full functionality.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Provides physical therapy services under the supervision of a physical therapist
  • Contributes to a physical therapist’s effectiveness by identifying patient care issues
  • Administers treatment programs for patients
  • Interview patients, perform physical examinations, and study therapy histories to assess patient health
  • Documents patient care services 
  • Administers manual exercises and instructs, encourages, and assists patients in performing physical activities
  • Utilizes crutches, canes, prostheses, etc., to assist patients
  • Describes therapeutic regimens for patients
  • Complies with procedures, rules, and regulations
  • Participates in continuing education, reads periodicals, maintains personal networks, and participates in professional organizations

Education and experience

  • Associate’s degree from an accredited physical therapist assistant education program
  • All states require a license or certification
  • Must pass a state-administered exam or the National Physical Therapy Exam administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy 

Required skills and qualifications

  • Strong knowledge of physiology
  • Excellent at motivating others
  • Organization skills
  • Excellent bedside manner
  • Strong documentation skills
  • Good listening and verbal communication skills
  • Must be able to sit, stand, or walk for extended periods
  • Must be able to bend, squat, push, stoop, and pull as needed in providing physical therapy to patients
  • CPR certification 
  • Compassion and empathy  
  • Attention to detail
  • Manual dexterity

Preferred qualifications

  • One year internship as a physical therapy assistant or comparable internship 
  • Excellent physical stamina and endurance

Example 2

ABC Company is a multi-faceted and also a forward-thinking company that always looks for future business growth opportunities that provide our patients with the best and most innovative healthcare. We are currently looking for a Physical Therapy Assistant to add to our growing business FirstPT.

Physical therapy assistant job description:

  • Promotes and maintains health by providing physical therapy services under the supervision of a physical therapist
  • Contributes to a physical therapist’s effectiveness by identifying patient care issues
  • Assesses patient health by interviewing patients, performing physical examinations, and obtaining updating, and studying therapy histories
  • Documents patient care services by charting in patient and department records
  • Performs therapeutic procedures by administering manual exercises and instructing, encouraging, and assisting patients in performing physical activities, such as non-manual exercises, ambulatory functional activities, and daily-living activities
  • Instructs and counsels patients by describing therapeutic regimens, giving normal growth and development information, and promoting wellness and health maintenance
  • Maintains safe and clean working environment by complying with procedures, rules, and regulations, and adhering to infection-control policies and protocols
  • Maintains production objectives by noting current treatment trends and monitoring actual physical therapy services rendered to production objectives.
  • Enhances physical therapy reputation by accepting ownership for accomplishing new and different requests and exploring opportunities to add value to job accomplishments


  • Associate degree for Physical Therapy Assistant (New graduates encouraged to apply)
  • Have or in process of obtaining (State) PTA Licensure

Example 3

ABC Company is seeking a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) to work in a school setting under the general supervision of the Registered Physical Therapist or Licensed Physical Therapist (RPT/LPT). They are assigned duties, which assist in the patient’s care for physical therapy needs.


  • Provides skilled physical therapy services/interventions in accordance with physician orders under the supervision of a Registered Physical Therapist
  • Responds to requests for service by relaying information and referral to Registered Physical Therapist
  • Implements and modifies the patient’s physical therapy plan of treatment with RPT supervision
  • Monitors patient responses to treatments and modifies it during treatment sessions as necessary
  • Other Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) duties as assigned


  • Graduate from an approved Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) school and holds a current Physical Therapist Assistant License for the state in which they practice
  • Function with a minimum of 35% of RPT supervision
  • Current health certificate
  • Current PPD or Chest X-Ray
  • Current CPR card
  • Successful completion of screening test with a score of 80% or greater

Example 4

Job summary and qualifications

As a Physical Therapy Assistant, you would be responsible for providing a full range of physical therapy services including therapeutic interventions in our team environment. You would also demonstrate accountability for and contribution to program development, quality improvement, problem-solving, and productivity enhancement.

  • You will communicate with the primary physical therapist and other members of the medical team regarding patient’s progress, needs, and discharge planning
  • Treat patients according to plan using conventional treatments methods using therapeutic modalities, while also applying critical thinking skills and potential alternatives to recommend to primary physical therapist
  • You will apply oxygen if needed per physician’s order. Initiate and document patient teaching including family and/or significant others


  • Associates Degree from an accredited program
  • State Licensure as Physical Therapist Assistant
  • Experience in an acute care hospital preferred
  • Basic Cardiac Life Support must be obtained within 30 days of employment start date

Candidate Certifications to Look For

  • PTA Advanced Proficiency Pathways. Administered by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the PTA Advanced Proficiency Pathways program is designed to increase a PTA’s knowledge and skill in a chosen area of physical therapy. The available pathways are acute care, cardiovascular/pulmonary, geriatrics, neurology, oncology, orthopedics, pediatrics, and wound management. The Advanced Proficiency Pathway program recognition is good for 10 years.
  • Functional Training Specialty Certification. The Functional Training Specialty Certification is intended for fitness and allied health professionals wanting to gain a deeper understanding of how to train the body to move more efficiently. Offered by the American Council on Exercise, the certification program teaches candidates how to apply functional movement techniques to their training. Candidates will gain an understanding of fascia, assessments, appropriate exercise progressions, and stretching techniques that will help them train clients to move better. Whether the goal is to improve core function, help clients gain an edge in athletic competition, or improve balance in older adults, functional training can help all adults improve movement efficiency.
  • Wound Care Certification (WCC). The National Alliance of Wound Care administers the WCC Examination, which demonstrates a candidate’s academic and technical competence in the area of skin and wound care management. Topics covered include structures and functions of normal skin, identification and management of risk factors impacting skin integrity, wound healing process, and treatment administration and management. Eligibility depends on a number of educational and experience requirements.

Sample Interview Questions

  • If a physical therapist develops a treatment plan for a patient, how do you ensure that the plan meets the patient’s needs and goals?
  • What kind of treatment techniques have you used in your practice, such as exercise, massage, and manual therapy, to reduce pain and help patients regain mobility?
  • What case management software are you familiar with?
  • What kind of equipment do you have experience working with?
  • What clinical settings have you worked in? 
  • As the patient’s condition or progress changes, how do you adjust the treatment plan?
  • When patients and their families are unsure how to continue their treatment plan at home, what methods do you use to educate them?
  • Describe your approach when meeting new patients.
  • How do you track and measure a patient’s progress?

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