Service Member working on Physical Therapy

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Physical Therapy Assistants

Health Science

Service Branches

  • Army logo
  • navy logo

Work Environment

Physical therapy assistants work in hospitals clinics and rehabilitation centers.

  • Military Status


  • Median Military Salary This is the median, or the midpoint, of the salary range for this career.


    Military Salary Range Salary varies based on years of service, degree level, special pays, family status and location.

    $31,064 - $198,543


Physical therapy assistants support physical therapists in providing physical therapy treatments and procedures. Under the direction of a physical therapist and following medical referral, these specialists administer physical therapy to decrease physical disabilities and promote physical fitness of service members. They treat disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and therapeutic exercise, rather than by drugs or surgery.

Military Training

All enlisted service members complete basic military training which includes time spent in a classroom and in the field and covers tactical and survival skills physical training military life and customs and weapons training. Physical therapy assistants in the Military will gain skills through classroom study including practice in providing patient healthcare and on-the-job experience. Job-specific training content may include:

  • Anatomy physiology and psychology
  • Methods of therapy including massage electric therapy and radiation therapy
  • Handling and positioning of patients
  • Principles of rehabilitation
  • Patient care
  • Working on a medical team

Helpful Attributes

  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Interest in working with and helping people
  • Patience to work with people whose injuries heal slowly

68F Physical Therapy Specialist

Length 4:15 View Transcript


The Army medical system is made up of several world-class teams that are trained to take care of soldiers and their families.  And when an orthopedic injury happens, one of those valued team members called on to help is the physical therapy specialist.  This critical team member plays an important role in the effort to rehabilitate patients suffering from a wide variety of injuries and illnesses. 

Physical therapy technicians are important to the Army because we serve a vital role, and provide rehabilitation service members, to get them back to full duty. 

Musculoskeletal injuries inhibit the Army from being medical ready.  That’s where physical therapists come in, and they help keep soldiers fit to fight the nation’s wars.

You will first complete 10 weeks of basic combat training, where you will learn the elementary tasks associated with being a soldier, including the Army values.  After graduation, you will then attend 28 weeks of advanced individual training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.  Your MOS training is at a joint service school, where you’ll train alongside other armed forces personnel.  When you leave here and join the active duty force, you may work alongside many of the same people.  While in advanced individual training, you may learn skills such as procedures and exercises that treat disabilities and promote fitness.  You will also undergo intensive instruction in corrective therapeutic exercises, and receive training in the anatomy and physiology of the human body.  Additionally, you will train to use many therapeutic modalities, including traction, electrical current to stimulate nerves, biofeedback, and muscle strengthening, as well as muscle reeducation.  And you will study how to provide superficial or deep heat therapies, such as moist hot packs, ultrasound, ice massages, and cold packs to treat injuries and aid in healing.  Physical therapy specialists are also taught to use a variety of sports medicine treatments and screenings. 

My favorite part of the training has been the hands-on portions, so actually getting to work on each other, and practice the exercises, and learn thing hands-on.

After your military occupational specialty training, you’ll be assigned to a fixed facility, or to a field unit.  Your duties may include measuring patients’ range of motions at all major points in the human body, and assisting them at applying orthopedic devices, such as braces, splints, and artificial limbs.  You may also assist patients in moving to and from wheelchairs, treatment tables, and other locations, and educate patients in the use of crutches, canes, parallel bars, and walkers.  As a physical therapy specialist, you may instruct soldiers on injury prevention and human performance optimization to proactively improve their health, fitness and readiness. 

Physical therapy is probably one of the most rewarding aspects of patient care.  You’re working with people who want to get better.

To see your patients recover step by step, that’s more rewarding, and being able to have compassion in them. 

Additional duties include preparing and distributing patient, personnel, and administrative reports, and maintaining general cleanliness of the physical therapy clinic, and you may be tasked to support your unit in theater operations and homeland security operations.  The training and experience you gain while serving in this specialty, combined with your experience in leadership and problem solving, may help you transition from the military to the civilian employment sector as a physical therapy technician.  The daily contact with your patients during their recovery makes being a physical therapy specialist a rewarding and challenging career.  The trust you build and the rehab you oversee plays an important role in the health and welfare of Army soldiers.  Physical therapy specialist, helping the Army medical department to conserve the fighting strength.