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Should I Become a PT vs PTA in 2023?

This is a great question. In my opinion, the main difference between choosing to become a PT vs PTA depends on your goals for the future.

There is little difference in the salary, job opportunities, and fulfillment of both paths. The PTA will have the opportunity to spend more time in the actual delivery of patient care, whereas the PT will spend more time evaluating new patients, developing plans of care, and overseeing the progress of patient programs.

Who Earns More Income, A PT vs PTA?

According to research published by Zippia, a PT will typically earn around 25% higher hourly rate or salary than a PTA.

This varies drastically across clinical settings and states. PTAs may be hired for clinical director positions quite often which come with significant pay raises. PTAs working in home health or skilled nursing will often earn more per hour than a PT working in an outpatient setting.

Total Cost to Earnings

If you compare a DPT program that requires 7 years of education and $150,000 in tuition to a PTA program that requires 2-3 years of education and approximately $30,000 in the tuition you can see the huge competitive advantage in choosing to become a PTA instead of a PT.

Employment Opportunities in 2023

USNews rated Physical Therapist as #10 on its list of best healthcare Jobs and #28 out of 100 for Best Jobs.

Both PTs and PTAs are in high demand across various cities here in the United States and this is not expected to change as more baby boomers are aging and will be in need of rehabilitative services.

Anecdotally I can tell you that recruiting and hiring has been the biggest challenge for growing my physical therapy clinics both here in Ohio and down in Florida. 

Related Article: Increase Profits by 60%

Which Career is More Rewarding? PT vs PTA

If patient care is your passion, then PTA may be a more rewarding option. In general, PTAs spend more time directly engaging with patients and building relationships with patients across many clinical settings.

Physical therapists are tasked with new patient evaluation documentation, progress report documentation, and overall supervision. A physical therapist will be responsible for supervising multiple PTAs in many settings which makes it challenging to dedicate significant time to direct patient care.

Many PTAs I talk to have said the most rewarding part of their career is the direct patient care and engagement and knowing that they have a lower documentation burden than the PT.

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