Multiple projections for the next ten years indicate there will be an increase in the number of PTA position vacancies. The U.S. Department of Labor projects a 33% increase in PTA positions during the decade 2008-2018.
With a surplus of jobs available, a career in physical therapy provides competitive salaries, job security, and geographical flexibility.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates employment of physical therapists across the U.S. will grow faster than the occupational average from 2008 to 2018, by 35 percent. The need for PTAs is expected to increase into the foreseeable future as the population ages and the demand for physical therapy services grows.
According to a Govenor’s Workforce Investment Board (GWIB) report, Maryland has designated both PTs and PTAS as an “in-demand allied health profession” with a workforce shortage projected through 2016.* Both statewide and nationally, job growth for PTAs is expected to be faster than average.
The national median income for a physical therapist assistant is $46,000 depending on position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic location, and practice setting (source: APTA 2009 Median Income of Physical Therapist Assistants Summary Report).
In Maryland, the annual mean wage for Physical Therapist Assistants is $44,360; and in D.C. $46,950.**
The terms "physical therapist assistant" and "physical therapy aide or technician" are not synonymous. Aides and technicians are on-the-job trained and not eligible to provide physical therapy by many payers, including Medicare. PTAs complete an intensive education from an accredited college program culminating in an associate degree, and then pass a state-administered national exam to obtain licensure or certification required in most states.
Currently there are more students applying to PTA programs than are accepted. Maryland’s GWIB report also documented a gap between the number of estimated annual job openings and degreed graduates for both PTs and PTAs. Previously, HCC students pursuing a PTA matriculate to Carroll Community College through the Mid-Maryland Allied Healthcare Education Consortium. Carroll Community College reported in 2010 that they admitted 24 students from an applicant pool of 112 students. Therefore, offering the PTA program at Howard Community College would provide greater opportunities for our students to achieve admission into a PTA program, and provide more PTAs to service the healthcare needs of the citizens of Maryland.