5 Characteristics of a Successful Physical Therapy Assistant

successful physical therapy assistant

  • Good At Interacting With Others
  • Able To Do Physical Activity For Long Periods Of Time
  • Ability To Work Under The Direction Of A Physical Therapist
  • Attention To Detail
  • Compassion

There are a few common characteristics of a successful physical therapy assistant. Individuals who go into this profession must be caring and willing to work with others. This career would be a great choice for people with the following traits.

Good At Interacting With Others

Physical therapy assistants will spend much of their career interacting with others, including patients, physical therapists, insurance companies, other medical professionals and many others. Because of this, these professionals need to display excellent interpersonal skills, one of the key characteristics of a successful physical therapy assistant. Part of their job is to educate patients and family members on what should be done after each session or once the treatment is over. They also need to be encouraging and personable to patients while giving them clear instructions.

Able To Do Physical Activity For Long Periods Of Time

Physical activity is a large part of a physical therapy assistant’s job. They are frequently moving about to help patients perform exercises and possibly even catch them as they fall. They may need to use techniques that require significant dexterity such as stretching and massaging. This profession requires a lot of physical stamina as assistants are often on their feet for prolonged periods of time. For people who enjoy physical activity, this job may be ideal, and it certainly helps one stay fit.

Ability To Work Under The Direction Of A Physical Therapist

It takes less education and certification to become a physical therapy assistant, and the role pays well. With only an associate’s degree, physical therapy assistants make on average $48,090 annually according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, these assistants are not full physical therapists and thus must work under the supervision and direction of a licensed physical therapist. While this means they often do not have as much independence as other careers, this arrangement can be desirable for people who do not necessarily want to be in charge and prefer the most hands-on work with clients.

Attention To Detail

Physical therapy assistants are often called upon to do clerical work, which in the medical field requires significant attention to detail. They must keep error-free records of their patients as well as adhere to the strict privacy laws that govern the healthcare industry. Physical therapy assistants must also be able to follow directions correctly so patients get the best care and mistakes are not made. Another key job duty is to observe patients both before and after therapy to see how they are faring. Picking up on small changes, therefore, is necessary to monitor the results of the therapy that has been provided.


Professionals in the physical therapy field frequently deal with people who are at a low point in their lives. They are hurting and scared but want to get back on their feet again. They may be recovering from an injury or an illness and desire to both manage their pain and regain their lost mobility. Physical therapy assistants must have a strong sense of compassion and ability to deal with people who need help but may not be at their best. This can be a trying profession but an extremely rewarding one. It is an excellent career choice for students who want a high-paying career where they can truly make a difference and help others.

It takes someone with the right traits to ultimately enjoy a successful career as a physical therapy assistant. Individuals who enjoy physical activity and helping others will perhaps find the most rewards here. Students should consider these characteristics of a successful physical therapy assistant when deciding if they are the right fit for this profession.

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