If you’re toying with the idea of going to physical therapist assistant school, you may be wondering about the benefits of doing so. You might also be asking yourself some questions, such as: Will I enjoy working in this industry? Would it be better to become a physical therapist? How long will it take to get through school? Will I graduate with debt? Am I limiting myself too much career-wise? These are all good questions! Making yourself think about and fully consider all options is a great way to go about making such a big life choice. After all, you’ll spend a little less than a third of your working life at your job, so it should definitely be something that you won’t tire of and that you find worth it! While you may come up with your own list of “cons,” below is a list of “pros” to help you get started.
Work in the Industry While You’re in School
If instead of going to physical therapy assistant school you had instead decided you wanted to be a congressman or woman, you would not have an opportunity to work in your chosen position during school. Save for internships that might get you exposure on The Hill or in a government organization, you would not be able to get work-related exposure, and you certainly wouldn’t be qualified to run for office! The good news about the field of physical therapy is that your opportunities aren’t quite so limited. While you won’t be able to work directly with patients until you have a diploma, you can absolutely seek employment as a physical therapist aide while you are in school. Y
ou could also find a job in a physician or physical therapy office in an administrative capacity so that you can get exposure to physical therapists and have an opportunity to learn through observation.
Save Money and Time in Your Education
If you’ve considered other employment options within the industry, such as going on to become a physical therapist or forgoing school and becoming a PT aide, consider this: as a PT assistant you will make, on average, twice what PT aides do. This is certainly enough to mitigate any damage caused by student loans. Also consider this: physical therapists typically have master’s degrees, if not PhDs. If you choose to extend your education by four to ten years in order to obtain a higher degree, you are missing out on an attractive income of nearly $50,000 (on average) for every year you choose to stay in school.
Gain Personal Satisfaction through Your Career
Many people who become physical therapists or PT assistants wrest satisfaction out of their careers through their opportunities to help others. Some jobs (such as the congressional career mentioned above) by their nature don’t provide the same opportunities to relate to others one-on-one and make a profound difference in another person’s life. Imagine – by working as a PT assistant you will be able to witness the progression of a person with limited mobility or functioning to that of restored range. It will be directly due to your efforts, care, and attention that your patients will see you less often and see the world more. It is one of the careers in which hearing from your patients less is a sign of a job well done!
Open up New Career Paths
Another bit of good news is that just by getting an A.A.S. in physical therapy assisting doesn’t mean your future is inflexible. At any point you could return to school and/or pursue a related job in administration, management, or teaching. For example, you might become the office manager in a physician office where you previously worked as a physical therapist assistant, or you might get promoted into a managerial position over other PT assistants. If you decide you also have a passion for education, you could return to school and one day instruct others at a community college or national university. And if you grow to love your field even more, you might choose that the extra education was indeed worth it and return to school to become a full-fledged physical therapist.