What is a PT Tech?

A Physical Therapy Technician (PT Tech) is a health care professional who assists physical therapists in providing care to patients. PT Techs work under the supervision of licensed physical therapists and perform tasks such as providing therapeutic exercises, applying modalities, and helping patients with their activities of daily living.

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Job Description

PT Techs are responsible for providing support to physical therapists and patients. They may work in a clinic, hospital, or private practice setting. PT Techs are responsible for setting up equipment, documenting patient progress, and providing support to the physical therapist.

Duties

Patient care technicians (PCTs) are multi-skilled health care practitioners who work under the supervision of licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses to provide basic patient care. The PCT is a member of the health care team who helps to achieve quality patient outcomes. The duties of PCTs vary depending on state law and the specific job setting, but generally involve performing basic nursing tasks and taking vital signs. In some states, PCTs may also administer medications, start intravenous (IV) fluids, change dressings, collect urine specimens, and provide bedside care.

Skills

To become a physical therapy technician, you will need to have completed high school or received your GED. Some wide-ranging physical therapy technician skills you will learn on the job include:

Anatomy
Physiology
Exercise physiology
Exercise equipment operation
Body mechanics
Therapeutic modalities
Patient assessment
Patient care and comfort
Infection control

Qualifications and Training

A PT Tech, or physical therapy technician, is a professional who helps patients with physical therapy exercises and provides treatments under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. PT Techs must have completed an accredited physical therapy program and passed a state-administered examination. Some states also require PT Techs to complete a certain amount of continuing education credits every year in order to maintain their license.

Education

A physical therapy technician, also called a PT tech, is a physical therapy aide who has completed an accredited PT tech program. These programs are offered at community colleges and technical schools and typically take two semesters, or one year, to complete. In some cases, students may be able to complete their program in as little as one semester if they have prior experience in the healthcare field or if they take extra courses.

A high school diploma or equivalent is required to enroll in a PT tech program. During their program, students take courses such as medical terminology, human anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, and basic pharmacology. Students also complete clinical rotations in order to gain experience working with patients under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

Certification

Although certification is not always required, becoming certified as a PT Tech can give you an edge in the job market. The Board of Certification in Physical Therapy Technology (BCPTT) offers two levels of certification:
The Certified Physical Therapy Technician (CPTT) credential is earned by passing the BCPTT exam. This credential signifies that the physical therapy technician has completed an accredited postsecondary education program and has successfully passed the national examination.
The Registered Physical Therapy Technician (RPTT) credential is earned by completing a minimum of 1,000 hours of clinical training and passing the BCPTT exam. This credential signifies that the physical therapy technician has completed an accredited postsecondary education program, has successfully passed the national examination, and has met the clinical training requirements.

Clinical Experience

Clinical experience is the practical application of your knowledge in a medical setting. This type of experience can be obtained through volunteer work, medical shadowing, or paid positions in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and other types of medical practices. Many PT tech programs require that students complete a certain number of hours of clinical experience before they can graduate.

Salary and Job Outlook

A PT tech is a professional who helps patients with physical therapy and rehabilitation. The median salary for a PT tech is $33,000 per year. The job outlook for PT techs is positive, with a projected growth of 22% from 2018-2028.

Salary

In 2018, the median salary for physical therapist assistants was $58,520 per year, or $28.11 per hour. The top 10 percent of all PTAs made more than $80,270 per year, or $38.63 per hour. The bottom 10 percent of PTAs made less than $41,690 per year, or $20.05 per hour.

Most PTAs work full time, although about 3 in 10 worked part time in 2018. Many PTAs have evening and weekend hours to accommodate patients’ schedules. Some may also work during patients’ lunch hours to avoid disrupting their workday schedule.

Job Outlook

Employment of physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 39 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. An aging population will need physical therapy services to recover from injuries, prevent further disability, and manage chronic conditions.

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