Careers Finding a Job Physical Therapy Assistant Skills List Share PINTEREST Email Print Jodi Jacobson / Getty Images Finding a Job Job Searching Skills & Keywords Resumes Salary & Benefits Letters & Emails Job Listings Job Interviews Cover Letters Career Advice Best Jobs Work-From-Home Jobs Internships Table of Contents Expand Physical Therapist Assistant Careers Skills Physical Therapist Assistants Need Top Physical Therapy Assistant Skills Communication Compassion Detail Oriented Multitasking Physical Stamina By Alison Doyle Updated on 01/30/21 Working under the supervision of physical therapists, physical therapy assistants (PTAs) help patients with illnesses and injuries to reduce pain and improve mobility. As a PTA, you can work in a variety of settings: hospitals, private practices, sports and fitness facilities, nursing homes, schools, and more. Physical Therapist Assistant Careers This is an in-demand role. Nearly 150,000 held jobs as PTAs in 2019, with a median wage of $48,990 per year. Career opportunities in this field are anticipated to grow 29% by 2029, much faster than average. To be a PTA, you'll need a high school diploma, associate's degree, and state licensure or certification. (Licensing and certification requirements vary from state to state.) But that's not all. Find out more about the important skills—both hard and soft—that are employers are looking for in this role. You can include them in your resume, cover letter, and job application, as well as highlighting them during interviews. Skills Physical Therapist Assistants Need Hard skills are a must for physical therapy assistants. People in this role must have a knowledge of human anatomy and an understanding of how to perform certain stretches and exercises. However, the job also includes a number of soft skills that help physical therapists communicate effectively with patients and coworkers. Another important quality for this role is physical stamina—expect to be on your feet for much of the day. This is a hands-on role, literally—you'll be using your hands to adjust patients and help them exercise. Take a look at some of the most essential skills for this role. Top Physical Therapy Assistant Skills Communication PTAs communicate regularly with patients. They need to clearly convey instructions to patients, such as how to perform certain exercises. They also must speak with the patients and their families about what to do after treatment. To do this effectively, PTAs must have strong oral communication skills. Because a PTA works under the supervision of a physical therapist, he or she must also be able to communicate well with the therapist. She has to listen carefully to instructions, and convey information about patients in a clear manner. Active ListeningAssertivenessEducating Family Members and Caregivers Regarding Therapeutic RoutinesExplaining Exercises and Therapies to PatientsInstructing Patients about the Use of Treatment EquipmentInstructing Patients on Use of Adaptive Devices like Walkers, Crutches, or CanesInteracting with Patients of Different Ages, Races, and Socio-Economic BackgroundsOrienting, Supervising, and Training Students, Volunteers, and Support StaffProviding Gait Training to PatientsRecommending Modifications of Treatment to Physical TherapistReportingSpeaking ClearlyTeamworkVerbal CommunicationsWriting Patient Progress Notes Compassion Along with effective communication, PTAs have to be able to sympathize with patients who are struggling, often both physically and emotionally. They have to understand how the patient is feeling, and use that information to decide how to best motivate that patient and, often, the patient's family. This is a helping profession, so people will flourish in this role if they gravitate toward helping others. Collaboration Customer Service Empathy Encouraging Patient Participation with Tasks and Therapies Interpersonal Skills Motivating Patients Overcoming Patient Resistance to Therapies Positive Outlook Relating to Disabled Patients Remaining Calm with Distressed Patients Tolerating Patient Setbacks or Lack of Progress Detail Oriented PTAs have to keep detailed records of patients' illnesses, injuries, and exercise programs. They must carefully track patient progress and report patient status to the physical therapist. To keep track of all of this, PTAs must be organized and focused on the details. While much of a PTA's role is hands-on, expect to devote some time each day to recordkeeping as well. Assessing Pain Tolerance of PatientsDocumenting Patient ProgressFollowing Infection Control Policies and ProceduresMeasuring Range of MotionMonitoring Vital SignsObservationPrioritizing Multitasking Often, PTAs must perform multiple tasks at once. They typically assist with many patients at one time and must be able to prioritize their duties. Therefore, PTAs must be strong multitaskers. Applying Diagnostic Muscle, Nerve, Joints, and Functional Abilities TestsCompiling Discharge ReportsFollowing Directions from Physical TherapistsMaintaining EquipmentOrdering SuppliesOrganizationReading and Comprehending Patient InformationUsing Smart Data SystemTime ManagementTreating Multiple Patients at the Same TimeWorking with Minimal Supervision Physical Stamina PTAs perform a number of tasks that require physical strength and dexterity. They must be on their feet for long periods, bend and kneel, and move patients. They also have to work with their hands to massage patients and set up equipment. To succeed in this role, you must both be strong and have stamina. Administering Traction to Relieve Neck and Back PainApplying Manual Resistance to a Patient's Limbs or Trunk During ExercisesDemonstrating Exercises to PatientsHigh Energy LevelManual DexterityPerforming Passive Stretch with ParticipantsPerforming Therapeutic Massage How to Make Your Skills Stand Out ADD RELEVANT SKILLS TO YOUR RESUME: In your resume and application, remember to highlight the skills your prospective employer is looking for. MENTION SKILLS IN YOUR COVER LETTER: Allow your cover letter to expound concisely on ways that you've maintained or upgraded technologies in past jobs. SHARE EXAMPLES IN JOB INTERVIEWS: When you prepare for your interview, plan to give examples of particular ways you have embodied the various skills your prospective employer wants.