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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.

  • Avg. Salary $42,149.00
  • Avg. Wage $25.61
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 1,900
  • In Demand Medium
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: Therapy Assistants (3414.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services (D313) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment (3237) 
  • 2016 NOC: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment (3237) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

67%
67%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Physical Therapist Assistant is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Therapy Assistants
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

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 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 More

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Physical therapist assistants’ duties vary from 1 position to another. They may work in outpatient clinics with clients who have orthopedic issues, in schools and preschools to help children develop physical and social skills, in extended care settings with geriatric clients, or in hospital settings with patients who have a variety of disorders or 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
  • Assist with and teach patients 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 exercise or activity classes
  • Perform postural drainage, percussions, and vibrations for treatment of respiratory conditions
  • Teach deep-breathing exercises
  • Monitor patients during treatments, individual activities, and exercise classes
  • Chart patients’ progress and report their performance to health care teams
  • Perform clerical tasks such as maintaining an inventory of equipment, ordering supplies and equipment, answering telephones, and scheduling appointments

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

  • 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, 2019

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 be required to work some evenings and weekends.

Health care settings can be high-stress environments. The work can also 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 also be required to move heavy equipment. To avoid injury, they must use proper methods for lifting and moving.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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

They should enjoy:

  • Having clear guidelines and organized methods for their work
  • Helping people
  • Using therapeutic equipment
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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, 2019

Physical therapist assistants are employed in:

  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centres
  • Continuing care and long-term care facilities
  • Community and government health agencies
  • Home care agencies
  • Physiotherapists’ offices and 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.

Physical therapist assistants are part of the 2011 National Occupational Classification 3237: Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment. In Alberta, 87% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the industries listed above
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the D313: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.2% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 246 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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

Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $34.00 $20.85 $19.06
Overall $17.00 $41.70 $25.61 $23.01
Top $19.10 $47.30 $29.23 $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.

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.


Industry Information
Educational Services
ALL INDUSTRIES
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

67%
67%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

26%
26%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

1%
1%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Physiotherapy Alberta College and Association website: www.physiotherapyalberta.ca

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

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 31, 2019. 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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