As the population ages and has greater physical therapy needs, a career as a Physical Therapist Assistant can be a rewarding occupational choice as well as a great first step into the overall field of health care.
Starting salary range
Starting Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant salaries range from $14.91/hour (New York) to $20.85/hour (California)*.
A Licensed Physical Assistant's median salary is $45,722 and maximum Licensed Physical Assistant salaries top out at over $55,000**. Larger institutions tend to pay more than smaller practices, according to Payscale's Median Salary by Company Size Charts)
Opportunities for advancement
Physical Therapist Assistants can advance by specializing in one of the following Physical Therapy areas: geriatric, pediatric, musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, integumentary, and cardiopulmonary. Once a Physical Therapist Assistant has a few years of experience, self-employment and contract work can be higher paying alternatives, though those options typically don't include benefits. Physical Therapist Assistants can also increase their salaries by gaining seniority, by moving to a larger institution, or by promotion to a supervisory role. A Physical Therapist Assistant can become a Physical Therapist by completing a 4 year degree and passing the Physical Therapy Licensing Exam, and fulfilling other state requirements for licensure.
Benefits and perks
Health care, paid time off, pension, education reimbursement, sick days, insurance, bonus, and taxes increase the total compensation package by an average 30.2**, bringing the median total Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant compensation to $65,490.
Salary negotiation tips
Negotiating salary can be tricky. Large institutions (hospitals, government health agencies, or private companies), typically set up a salary range (or salary band), so the organization will have a little room to move on salaries (about 5-10%). Smaller organizations, such as private medical practices are less likely to have as much wiggle room on salary. Either way, don't expect an employer to give you a higher salary just because you ask. Instead, prepare a well documented justification and stay within the organization's salary range for the specific position so you'll have a good chance at getting the salary increase you're targeting.
Your greatest ability to negotiate salary is when you have options. Interview with a number of hospitals, medical practices, federal/state/local government health agencies, universities, Veterans Administration, and private companies. In addition, do your homework – get salary information online with AOL Jobs Salary Center or from staffing and recruiting firms in your industry. Sometimes just having research on average salaries for your local market may provide rationale for a higher salary.
* According to www.payscale.com.
** According to www.salary.com