Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist

There is always an argument when trying to choose a Healthcare related profession apart from being a medical doctor by attending a medical school. An most times is physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist.

This most times is due to the inability of these students to gain admission into any of the top medical schools or they just need to be more specific in there carrier.

Both physician Assistant (PA) and physical therapist (PT) are very nice courses that their responsibilities or duties in any clinic is highly needed. The help in many angles pf giving healthcare.

Physician Assistant and physical therapist can be seen as Best Alternatives to medical schools

There are many areas we will touch to enable you understand the difference between pa and pt and also help you choose the one that you desires. These areas are

  • Definitions
  • Job description and Responsibilities
  • Education Level
  • Certification
  • Work Place
  • Job Outlook
  • Salary

Now let us start with definition.


Difference between Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist

Physician Assistant

A physician assistant (PA) is a type of mid-level healthcare practitioner or medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and may serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider.

Pa’s works under the supervision of a qualified and licenced medical Doctor. While Working interdependently with physicians, PAs provide diagnostic and therapeutic patient care in virtually all medical specialties and settings.

They take patient histories, perform physical examinations, order laboratory and diagnostic studies, prescribe medications, and develop patient treatment plans

Physical Therapist

You can say that Physical therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education.

A Physical therapists examine each person and then develops a treatment plan to improve their ability to move, reduce or manage pain, restore function, and prevent disability.

1. Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist -Responsibilities

As i pointed out earlier, both professionals care for patients. As a physician Assistant helps a doctor in administration of drugs and other stuffs, physical therapist helps in patients fitness. Further responsibilities of them will be listed below.

Physician Assistant responsibility

Below are the duties of a physician Assistant

  • Interview and examine patients to determine a diagnosis.
  • Order tests to ascertain the nature and extent of illnesses and injuries.
  • Prescribe medications and suggest lifestyle changes to remedy medical problems. 
  • Stitch wounds and set bones.
  • Administer immunizations.
  • Maintain patient records and provide documentation for insurance companies.

While Physical Therapists work essentially with people recovering from injuries. Their goal is to get patients back in motion with exercises, massage, and other techniques.

The focus of physical therapy is on preventing injuries, and it can also help people avoid surgery or long-term reliance on medications.

Responsibilities Of Physical Therapists

Below are the duties of physical therapist

  • Diagnosing physical problems restricting movement because of an illness or injury.
  • Using exercises and other techniques to ease pain and boost mobility and muscle strength.
  • Developing fitness and wellness programs aimed at preventing injuries and encouraging a more active lifestyle.

2. Education Level

When you come to the level of education of physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist, they differs. Most pa’s need at least a master’s degree to practice which typically takes between 24 and 27 months to complete (2-3 years).

For persons who desires to go further on the career ladder may decide to pursue a doctoral degree and this takes between two and three years.

This is mostly important for those that are through with their bachelor’s degree.

Meanwhile, pt’s hold a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, which usually takes three years to complete. However, earning a master’s degree is necessary. A typical master’s degree in physical therapy program takes about two years.

Most importantly, take note that both the DPT and the master’s programs require an undergraduate degree.

3. Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist Certification

The certification and licensing laws for Physician assistant varies from State to state but common requirements include graduating from an accredited physician assistant program, meeting fieldwork requirements/completing your training from the approved program and passing a national certification exam.

While, for Physical therapy, you must be licensed as a physical therapist before you can practice. So, to sit for the National Physical Therapist Examination, you have to be a graduate of an accredited physical therapy school.

4. Work Environment

Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist place of work is quite different, physician assistant work in the hospital, but there are other place they can work

  • Group medical practices
  • Colleges
  • Government agencies. 
  • Rural health care facilities
  • Phone triage centers
  • Retail clinics
  • Community health clinics
  • Surgery centers
  • Urgent care centers

While, physical therapy happens in a PT’s office. But, in some occasion physical therapy take place in:

  • Fitness centers
  • Outpatient clinics or offices
  • Home health agencies
  • Schools

5. Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist – Job availability

When looking at the report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physician assistants is expected to expand by 31% from 2018 to 2028, and that’s really very significant.

So, the increased demand for medical services from an aging population and efforts to limit the costs of delivering medical services performed by doctors are factors impacting this growth.

Still, on the report,  the employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 22 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. 

This demand for physical therapy is expected to come from aging baby boomers, who are not only staying active later in life but are susceptible to health conditions, such as strokes, that may require physical therapy.

Furthermore, physical therapists will be needed to treat people with mobility issues stemming from chronic conditions, such as diabetes or obesity.

6. Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist – Salary Structure

According to, their report says that the average salary of a physician assistant is $96,561.

Also, from BLS reports that physical therapists earn $89,440 per year that is, $43.00 per hour.

Read also: High school diploma jobs in hospital

Similarities between physician assistant and physical therapist

From the understanding above, there are some differences that exist between pa and pt, but they are quite similar in some ways.

The major similarity between a Physician Assistant and a Physical Therapist is that they are both important members of the allied health professions.

Also, both the PAs and PTs work in hospitals, clinics, medical centers, and so on.

Furheremore, Both physician assistants and Physical therapy educate people on how to prevent and avoid injuries. They both aim to improve your overall functioning, quality of life, and knowledge about how to maintain your health and well-being.

Finally, PAs vs PTs participate directly in patient care, educating patients, and working toward positive patient outcomes.

Universities offering PT vs PA

There are many universities and collages where physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist are trained. The schools are well qualified and are easiest pa and pt schools to get into.

Universities offering physical therapist and physician assistant courses are

  • University of Utah
  • George Washington University
  • Wake Forest University
  • Interservice Physician Assistant Program
  • Drexel University
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • The University of Colorado
  • University of Southern California
  • Jefferson College of Health Sciences
  • Oregon Health and Sciences University
  • Emory University
  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • University of Iowa
  • Duke University
  • Kettering College


Having a good understanding in Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist is very important to help you choose the best course for you. We have come to understand the responsibilities, job opportunities and salary of pa vs pt. Their similarities and differences are also important.