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Physical Therapist Assistant

Physical therapist assistants help physiotherapists implement treatment programs designed to improve or maintain clients’ abilities to function independently.

Also Known As

Physical / Occupational Therapist Assistant, Physical Therapy Assistant, Physiotherapist Assistant, Rehabilitation Assistant, Therapist Assistant

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 3414.2: Therapy Assistants

2006 NOC-S

  • D313: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services

2011 NOC

  • 3237: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment

2016 NOC

  • 3237: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment

2021 NOC

  • 32109: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment

2023 OaSIS

  • 32109.05: Physiotherapy assistants and occupational therapy assistants
Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Physical therapist assistants’ duties vary depending on the position. They may work in outpatient clinics with clients who have musculoskeletal, neurological, or cardiorespiratory (heart and lung) issues. They may work in schools and preschools to help children develop physical and social skills. They may work in extended care settings with geriatric clients. Or they may work in hospital settings with patients who have a variety of disorders or injuries, or who have undergone surgery. Whatever the setting, they work under the direction and supervision of physiotherapists.

Physical therapist assistants implement treatment plans designed by physical therapists for individual clients and groups. They may:

  • Perform lifts and transfers and help patients correctly position themselves
  • Help with patients and teach activities such as stretching and individual exercises
  • Re-educate patients on posture and gait
  • Prepare and apply hot or cold packs, hydrotherapy, and wax treatments
  • Administer electrotherapy treatments such as ultrasound, interferential treatment, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and electrical muscle stimulation
  • Measure patients for walking aides such as canes and walkers, and educate patients on their use
  • Apply braces or artificial limbs
  • Lead or participate in group exercises or activity classes
  • Perform treatment for respiratory conditions
  • Teach patients deep-breathing exercises
  • Monitor patients during treatments, individual activities, and exercise classes
  • Chart patients’ progress and report their performance to health-care teams

Physical therapist assistants also perform clerical tasks and adjust and monitor equipment. They may:

  • Maintain an inventory of equipment
  • Order supplies and equipment
  • Answer phones and schedule appointments
  • Prepare treatment areas and electrotherapy equipment for use by physiotherapists
  • Check and store equipment
  • Clean physical therapy equipment and treatment areas
  • Change and launder linen
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg

Physical therapist assistants work in a variety of settings including private practices, hospitals, continuing or long-term care facilities, rehabilitation facilities, schools, and private homes. They generally work weekdays but may also work evenings and weekends.

Health-care settings can be high-stress environments. The work can be physically demanding. Physical therapist assistants help clients transfer, stand, walk, and exercise. They may be on their feet for long periods of time. They may need to move heavy equipment. To avoid injury, they must use proper methods for lifting and moving.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Therapy Assistants

2006 NOC: 3414.2

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
METHODICAL

Interest in copying information to assist patients as directed by health care professionals

SOCIAL

Interest in assisting patients by helping elderly and incapacitated patients to dress and undress, by accompanying patients to treatment rooms and by supporting them in other activities

objective

Interest in handling to prepare and maintain work materials and supplies; and in assisting patients in the use of therapeutic equipment

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Physical therapist assistants need:

  • Empathy
  • Patience
  • Flexibility
  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Physical strength and stamina
  • Manual dexterity
  • The ability to encourage patient confidence and participation
  • The ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Problem-solving skills
  • The ability to think clearly even in high-stress situations

They should enjoy:

  • Having clear guidelines and organized methods for their work
  • Helping people
  • Using therapeutic equipment
  • Working and collaborating with others

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment

2016 NOC: 3237

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 119 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Mar 28, 2023 and May 14, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Carry out treatment programs, under the direction of physiotherapists and/or occupational therapists, to rehabilitate patients with various injuries or disabilities
Tasks: Clean and maintain equipment
Attention to detail
Tasks: Document patient rehabilitation progress
Physiotherapy
Tasks: Schedule and confirm appointments
Construction Specialization: Organized
Construction Specialization: Client focus
Experience: 1 year to less than 2 years
Tasks: Assist during assessment of patients and carry out treatment programs and develop materials for use with patients
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary

Employers generally prefer to hire graduates of related post-secondary diploma programs.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary North
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton City Centre
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton North

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Certification Not Regulated

Certification is not required as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation. However, voluntary certification with the Therapy Assistant Association of Alberta (ThAAA) is available. To register, applicants must attend a recognized program in Canada or work as a physical therapist assistant for at least 3,000 hours under the supervision of a physiotherapist.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Physical therapist assistants work in:

  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centres
  • Continuing care and long-term care facilities
  • Community and government health agencies
  • Home care agencies
  • Physiotherapy clinics
  • Schools

Some positions involve working as an occupational therapist assistant as well as a physical therapist assistant.

Without further education, advancement opportunities for physical therapist assistants are limited.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 3237: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment occupational group, 82.5% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 3237: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.9% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 22 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2024

 

Wages in private practice tend to be lower than those in public service settings such as hospitals.

As of June 26, 2019, the minimum wage in Alberta is $15.00 per hour for most workers. For more information, see Minimum Wage.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment

2016 NOC: 3237
Average Wage
$27.61
Per Hour
Average Salary
$46,713.00
Per Year
Average Hours
33.2
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11.7
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3237 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $43.71 $24.13 $19.92
Overall $17.00 $47.94 $27.61 $23.36
Top $17.00 $49.35 $29.26 $24.95

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

ALL INDUSTRIES
Educational Services
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
36%
36%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
13%
13%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
7%
7%
Vacancy Rate
3%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2024

College of Physiotherapists of Alberta website: www.cpta.ab.ca

Therapy Assistant Association of Alberta (ThAAA) website: thaaa.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2024. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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