Physiotherapist Assistant

What is a Physiotherapist Assistant (PTA)?
Related job titles
Major duties
Qualifications and requirements
Who are the employers?
Where to find job postings?
Professional associations and resources
More relevant links
Sample job posting
Resume sample

What is a Physiotherapist Assistant (PTA)?

A Physiotherapist Assistant (PTA) is a health care worker who helps to teach clients to effectively cope with their limitations in movement, daily functioning and activity. A PTA works under the supervision of a licensed physiotherapist.

The College of Physiotherapists of Ontario (CPO), the regulatory body, categorizes physiotherapist assistants as Support Personnel.

Related job titles

The following titles, describing this kind of work, are most commonly used in job postings:

  • physiotherapist aide
  • physiotherapy aide/assistant
  • physical therapy aide/assistant
  • physiotherapist attendant

You might find some job descriptions that are very similar to that of PTA. Here are some related titles:

  • rehabilitation aide/assistant
  • restorative care aide
  • therapy assistant

Be aware that the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators recommends that employers use the term “assistant” when some post-secondary studies in the field are required, and the term “aide” when the position requires “on-the job training” only.

Often, the title “occupational therapy assistant” (OTA) is used along with “physiotherapy assistant” (PTA) in job postings. This is partly because sometimes they both receive training through a single OTA/PTA program.

Here is how some college programs describe the difference between OTA and PTA:

  • Physiotherapy is focused on the physical functioning and abilities of individuals.
  • Occupational Therapy is directed toward maximizing a person’s ability in all aspects of their usual daily activities including physical, mental and community interaction.

Major duties

According to the Physiotherapy Health Human Resources Background Paper this group of health care workers is not well defined in the Standard Occupational Classification.

The registered physiotherapist assigns a PTA’s duties. They work in close collaboration but ultimately the registered physiotherapist is accountable for the physiotherapy care, regardless of the amount of supervision. A PTA’s duties may include:

  • providing clinical care for assigned patients
  • providing patient/family education and support to address physical, emotional and self-care needs as assigned
  • providing timely and astute information to relevant team members about the patient’s performance
  • participating in program planning
  • implementing the components of the treatment plan as directed by the physiotherapist
  • assisting with walking, transfers and safe mobility, etc.
  • assisting the patient with his/her individual cognitive, perceptual and physical programs
  • assisting in or conducting group activities / exercise programs
  • monitoring and reporting changes in health status to the supervisor
  • ordering prescribed assistive or adaptive equipment
  • maintaining equipment inventories

Some buzz words and catch phrases which you might find useful are:

  • client-centred treatment
  • multidisciplinary health care team
  • sound judgement
  • critical thinking skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • implement the components of the treatment plan
  • delegated therapeutic skills
  • timely and astute information
  • intervention strategy
  • assistive / adaptive equipment

Qualifications and requirements

Though requirements may vary from one employer to another, candidates must always possess one of the following:

  • a certificate from a Physiotherapy Assistant Program
  • a physiotherapist assistant diploma from an accredited institution, or
  • equivalent formal training

The following certificates are a must as well:

  • First Aid Certificate and
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certificate

The ability to do handle several tasks at one time (multitasking) and strong communication and interpersonal skills are crucial. Examples of these skills are:

  • the ability to perform as a coach/mentor
  • sound critical thinking skills
  • the ability to work effectively and collaboratively with physiotherapists
  • good judgement and problem-solving skills

Other common requirements include:

  • the ability to meet the physical demands of the position, i.e. substantial walking, standing, lifting, twisting and bending
  • knowledge of equipment, e.g., wheelchair supplies and seating equipment
  • understanding of the principles of rehabilitation
  • basic Cardiac Life Support (C Level) Heart Saver Plus Canada
  • non-violent crisis intervention training.
  • demonstrated computer skills
  • knowledge of other languages


As indicated by some community colleges, the average starting salary of a PTA is $31,755 (Canadian) annually. In some cases, the starting salary has been reported as around $40,000 annually.

Who are the employers?

PTAs work in:

  • rehabilitation centres
  • hospitals
  • medical clinics

In addition, PTAs may work in:

  • retirement and nursing homes (also called long-tern care facilities)
  • sports and fitness centres
  • recreation centres
  • industry

PTAs may work in private practice as well. The Home Health Care Workshop Manual discusses these issues and introduces you to terminology specific to the occupation.

Where to find job postings?

  • HRDC – Ontario
    Try searching by NOC code in the Keyword Search box

    • 3414 (physiotherapy / rehabilitation / therapy assistant/aide)
    • 3235 (physiotherapist / physical therapist assistant)
  • Ontario Hospital Association (OHA)
    The OHA lists all hospitals by region and then alphabetically. Browse or search to find a hospital that you are interested in. Click on the bullet and explore the website. In most cases, you have to find out the site map and then employment or career opportunities. Consider enquiring directly as well.
  • University Health Network (UHN)
    The UHN includes three hospitals: Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess Margaret. This website lists all job categories, including physiotherapy. The future opportunities link allows you to post your resume.
  • Hamilton Health Sciences
    Weekly employment opportunities at each of the four hospitals are posted every Thursday. Not all vacancies are advertised on this site. You are advised to submit a cover letter and resume by email. Find contact information here.
  • Community Care Access Centre Locator
    Explore employment opportunities in specific Community Care Access Centre in your area. They often provide physiotherapy services.
  • Community Health Centre Locator
    Community Health Centres provide physiotherapy and rehabilitation services along with other health care services. Find a Community Health Centre in your area and enquire directly.
  • Ontario Athletic Therapist Association (OATA)
    A list of various therapists’ clinics in Ontario. Find them in your area and enquire directly.
  • Ontario Long-Term Care Facility Employment Information Site
    If you are interested in working for a nursing or seniors’ home, you will find valuable tips on finding jobs. Use the facility locator and enquire directly.
  • GTA Rehab Network
    Rehabilitation clinics employ physiotherapists and physiotherapy assistants. This website lists rehabilitation clinics in the Toronto area. Click on each one and check out their employment opportunities.
  • Physical Therapist online
    This website is owned by an American company but also includes Canadian jobs. Try to use the keywords assistant or aide. You can use this site as a resource and forum for ideas as well.
    North America’s job board for health care professionals.
    Go to the Therapists Jobs category and browse.

Professional associations and resources

More relevant links
Do you need Canadian experience? Volunteer in your professional field.

Sample job posting

Please note that this job posting is a sample, included here to give you an indication of the expectations and terminology you may encounter in your job search.

Physiotherapy Assistant – Toronto, Ontario

STATUS: Temporary Full Time (12 MONTH CONTRACT)

As an integral member of the Rehabilitation Services Department at Princess Margaret Hospital, the PHYSIOTHERAPY ASSISTANT supports the physiotherapy professions by taking responsibility for clinical and administrative duties, supporting physiotherapists by supervising clients during their treatment activities and ensuring clients perform prescribed activities in an appropriate and safe manner, ensuring clinical supplies are available, ensuring the program area and equipment are cleaned and maintained on a regular basis, and appropriate supplies are ordered. The above responsibilities will aid the department to function most efficiently on a daily basis.

  • At minimum, completion of a community college certificate program
  • Completion of a recognized post secondary Physiotherapy Assistant certificate program
  • Up to (1) one year of relevant experience
  • Basic word processing computer skills in Microsoft Applications and email
  • Demonstrates a clear understanding of rehabilitation principles
  • Demonstrates appropriate and effective written, oral and non-verbal communication with patients, families, colleagues and the public
  • Knowledge of the equipment and materials used in the provision of PT treatments
  • Excellent interpersonal, organizational and time management skills
  • Ability to function within an interdisciplinary team
  • Ability to solve problems and seek guidance of supervising staff when appropriate
  • Ability to deal effectively with difficult clients and conflicting situations
  • Ability to use good judgment in assessing difficult situations
  • Ability to be anticipate client’s unique needs
  • Ability to be consistent and display a positive/helpful attitude
  • Ability to work in a self directed manner
  • Ability to function in a stressful environment while maintaining professional demeanour
  • Standard First/Aid Basic Rescuer Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (C.P.R.) certification

Resume sample
See résumé sample for a sample of a Physiotherapist Assistant resume.

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