There are a lot of different reasons that people choose to work in certain fields. Some people feel that they have a calling to work in a certain profession, and find themselves traveling all over the world in pursuit of their dreams. Some people choose to do what interested them in school, because the way they see it, if they liked learning about it, they’ll probably like doing it. Other people are strictly logical, weighing their different options based on wage estimates, work environment, and opportunities for job growth. All of these are good ways to decide upon a career, and there’s not necessarily a “wrong” way, as long as you’re happy with your choice. If you’re thinking of becoming a physical therapist assistant, you might want to think about all the different factors. Will you enjoy it? Are you interested in the subject matter? Do you think you will be satisfied with your work? Will you like your work environment? Will you earn enough to support yourself? Are there job opportunities in your area, or are you willing to move to where there are some? The questions about enjoyment and interest you can only answer for yourself. But some of the more practical questions, such as those about work environment, wages and availability, can be answered right here.
Will you like your work environment?
Although you must decide for yourself how much you will actually like your work environment, you might be comforted to know that you have some options. You might work in a physician office, in a medical or surgical hospital, in a nursing care facility, as part of a home healthcare team, or in the office of another healthcare practitioner such as a PT office. Most people are employed in health practitioner offices, most typically physical therapy clinics. These employees make a higher than average income – over $50,000 a year. Very few employees, respectively, are employed on a home healthcare team or in a physician’s office. The former actually make the highest income (over $60,000 a year) and the latter makes the least (about $49,000). To decide how much you will like your work environment, consider the types of patients you will have (athletes, the elderly, etc.) the types of problems you will deal with (sports injuries, neurological disorders, stroke victims, etc.) your schedule (a 12 hour hospital shift versus a 9-5 job) and your income.
ill you earn enough to support yourself?
The short answer is yes. Physical therapist assistants, on average, make about $25.15 an hour – well above the minimum wage in all states. That translates to a little over $50,000 a year. This is, however, an average. Those in the lowest 10% of earners make about $32,000 a year. Even this, however, translates to an hourly wage that’s well above the minimum. Of course, how well this serves to support you financially depends on what you need to be supportive. Do you have a lot of loans or bills? Do you have an expensive car payment? How much do you pay for your rent or mortgage? On the plus side, those who make in the lowest 10% are typically new to the field, so even though this may be your starting salary, you will likely move up quickly. And at the high end of the spectrum, those in the top 10% of earners make about $35.00 an hour, or over $72,000 annually. That’s definitely enough to make those car and house payments! You will also have to consider the cost of living in your area. Your money will get you much further in Michigan than in New York. Of course, you will likely make more if you live in the Big
Apple as opposed to the Great Lakes State.
Are there job opportunities in your area?
he state with the highest concentration of PT assistant jobs is West Virginia, followed by Ohio, Alabama, Tennessee, and Missouri. You can see that there are more jobs available in rural areas. This is because a lot of physical therapists and assistants flock to cities, a fact that is evidenced by the areas that are actually currently employing the most PT assistants – Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Houston, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. Don’t be fooled, though. Just because there are a lot of people employed in these large cities doesn’t mean that there are a lot of opportunities. Sure, the more people in an area, the more they will need PT services, but on the same token, the more people in an area the more physical therapists and assistants there are. If you are willing to move, relocate to a more suburban or rural area where the supply of qualified health practitioners is rather low.