Learn About Requirements, Certifications, Duties, and Salary Ranges
If you want to help others but don’t enjoy working within the same four walls, then you might want to pursue a career as a Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA). These professionals provide care to individuals and families who cannot leave their homes due to injuries or illnesses. The goal is to create the best possible environment for each patient’s care; after all, when it comes to getting well, there’s no place like home.
Our career guide will teach you all you need to know about becoming a Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant. We’ll cover the required schooling, certifications, and what to expect from your work environment. This guide also details how much you could make and how long it usually takes to launch your career as a Home Health PTA.
(Click here to see our full list of the top Physical Therapist Assistant jobs.)
Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant Definition
What Is a Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant?
In the field of physical therapy, Home Health PTAs play a vital role. These Physical Therapist Assistants care for patients who endure illnesses or injuries that restrict them to their homes. In other words, Home Health PTAs bring medical treatment to the home of each patient. They often assist clients with exercise programs that are designed to enhance mobility and strength.
(Click here to learn how to become a Physical Therapist Assistant.)
Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant: Job Description
What Does a Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant Do?
Home Health Physical Therapist Assistants help improve the quality of life for patients who must remain at home. Under the supervision of a physical therapist, Home Health PTAs provide others with physical therapy services to increase mobility, alleviate pain, and restore function.
Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant: Work Environment
Where Do Home Health Physical Therapist Assistants Work?
Home Health Physical Therapist Assistants visit all kinds of homes to see their patients. When patients cannot leave their homes for outpatient therapy, these professionals are called upon to help them. Home Health PTAs might visit houses, apartment complexes, condominiums, and more.
Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant Duties
Although job duties can vary depending on your location and employer, the daily tasks of a Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant will generally include the following:
- Performing direct physical therapy services according to the directions of the physical therapist and under the physician’s plan of care.
- Working with patients to relieve pain, restore function, and increase performance.
- Directing patients on how to perform both active and passive therapeutic exercises, muscle re-education, functional training, transfer activities, and prosthetic training.
- Instructing patients on proper care techniques and use of wheelchairs, braces, crutches, canes, etc.
- Using physical agents as needed, such as heat, cold, electricity, ultrasound, and massage.
- Assisting and working under the supervision of licensed physical therapists.
- Documenting all services provided to ensure safety, accuracy, and timely billing of therapy services.
- Ensuring that patient care follows the physical therapist’s established plan of care, the employer’s guidelines, professional standards, and federal and state guidelines.
Home Health PTA Education Requirements & Certifications
What Degree Do You Need to Become a Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant?
Like the other careers on our list, Home Health PTAs must acquire an associate degree from an accredited PTA program. They must also pass the NPTE licensure exam to safely practice in their state. Some employers of Home Health Physical Therapist Assistants prefer to hire PTAs with extra training, which can be completed through certifying organizations like the American Physical Therapy Association.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant?
Aspiring Home Health PTAs can expect their educational journey to take about two years to complete. First, they must graduate from an associate-degree program. While most programs require two years of school, an accelerated program would allow you to earn a PTA degree in as little as 20 months. Then, they must become licensed PTAs. This means they will have graduated from an accredited PTA program and passed the NPTE licensure exam.
Once you have passed your program, you will need to complete several other steps before you seek work as a Home Health PTA. This is to ensure that you are equipped with the necessary skills to help a wide range of patients who are particularly vulnerable and may require extra care.
Our guide breaks down what it takes to become a Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant:
1. Complete a Physical Therapist Assistant Degree Program
If you’d like to become a PTA in the U.S., you will need to earn an associate degree from a PTA program that’s accredited by CAPTE. Each program will have its own set of admissions requirements. To give you a better idea, the PTA degree program at Unitek College requires a high school diploma or GED, a passing score on the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) exam, background checks, drug screenings, and more.
While your PTA education will likely include some general education requirements, most of your program will focus on core classes like anatomy, physical ailments, medical terminology, and patient care. Students also normally learn about kinesiology and equipment operation, not to mention mental health and legal issues.
2. Pass the National Physical Therapy Exam
In order to obtain your PTA license and start your career, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE). This test demonstrates your mastery of the necessary skills to perform PTA tasks. The NPTE is a multiple-choice test with 200 questions. Keep in mind that you’ll have four hours to complete this exam.
If you’re nervous about taking the test, you might want to speak with graduates who have been in this situation. Talk to your teachers and counselors. Consider practice exams, too. Go to the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy website to learn more about these exams. They offer PEAT, or the Practice Exam and Assessment Tool, which can provide you with an idea of what to expect on the exam. However, it’s important to remember that you can only retake the test up to three times in any given 12-month period.
3. Obtain Your PTA License on a State-By-State Basis
After you’ve successfully completed the NPTE, you’ll be eligible to become licensed in the state(s) where you plan to work. Because the NPTE is a national exam, it’s generally easy to transfer your scores to gain licensure in different states. The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy will be your go-to resource for determining each state’s licensing requirements for PTAs.
Although some states have different requirements for maintaining your PTA license, most states will require the completion of ongoing education programs or proof of current employment and relevant work experience.
4.Gain Work Experience and Additional Certifications
The next step is to build your resume and gain work experience. Keep in mind that many employers prefer candidates who have one year or more of experience, an active driver’s license, and proof of several vaccinations. If you’d like to stand out from other job candidates, you should also obtain certification in basic life support (BLS). Try to go to any local PTA events or contact physical therapy clinics. In other words, look for as many networking opportunities as you can find.
Some employers of Home Health Physical Therapist Assistants prefer to hire PTAs with extra training, which can be completed through certifying organizations like the American Physical Therapy Association.
What Skills Do You Need to Become a Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant?
In the role of a Home Health PTA, you should use a combination of physical and emotional skills. Great interpersonal skills are essential since you work directly with patients. In addition, compassionate natures, diligent tendencies, and physical stamina are all important characteristics of a Home Health PTA. These Physical Therapist Assistants may also require experience with electrical stimulation or traction and ultrasound equipment.
Bonus tip: Some job postings may include requirements like an AHA CPR certification and experience in home health settings.
Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant Salary
How Much Do Home Health Physical Therapist Assistants Make?
Physical Therapist Assistants in the United States earn an average annual salary of about $65,000, which is around $31 per hour. Recently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that the top industries for PTAs include home healthcare services, nursing care facilities, hospitals, and offices of various practitioners.
While the BLS doesn’t offer salary information for Home Health PTAs, Physical Therapist Assistants usually receive a competitive salary that can increase depending on their specializations, location, and experience.
Why Is Home Health a Great Career Path for Physical Therapist Assistants?
If you enjoy new surroundings and experiences, then a specialized path as a Home Health PTA could be the right choice for you. This pathway allows medical professionals to care for people in their homes. In other words, they will likely gain greater experience levels and skill sets. It can also be very satisfying to help ill or injured patients make progress on their road to recovery.
Consider Your Educational Journey as a Home Health PTA
Do you love the thought of helping others in the comfort of their own homes? If so, becoming a Home Health PTA could be a wonderful career choice. Physical therapy is a vital service that you can perform in underserved areas and greatly improve the lives of other people. Whether the cause is injury, illness, or time, there will always be people who require the services of Home Health Physical Therapist Assistants.