Physician Assistants Vs Physical Therapists: Perfect Differences & Similarities

Okoma V.
8 Min Read
Physician Assistants

Picking a career in the medical field profession, such as Physician Assistant or Physical Therapist, has always been challenging, particularly since both careers involve aiding and keeping people safe.

There isn’t much of a distinction between a Physician Assistant and a Physical Therapist. In reality, one is not preferable to the other. So there’s nothing to be concerned about. These two professions, however, are also involved in a variety of other medical procedures.


As a result, we will demonstrate the distinction between PAs and PTs, as well as the differences, similarities, and other information you should be aware of.

Who is a Physician Assistant(PA)?

A PA is an affiliate health professional who performs under the guidance of a professional doctor (MD) or osteopath (a DO). In several health facilities and treatment protocols, they are an essential part of the medical team.

He or she doesn’t have to defend his position only when the supervisor is present, as long as he has been properly trained and understands how to do so.


Read also: How to Become a Physician Assistant in New York and Salary

Who Is a Physical Therapist(PT)?

A physical therapist is a medically trained specialty that solves inefficiencies and improves mobility by using force and motions (biomechanics or exercise physiology), electrical stimulation, manual therapy, and physical rehabilitation.

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They are motion specialists who improve people’s lives by educating them about their bodies, recommending exercises, and providing hands-on care.

What Are The Difference Between PA and PT?

Both PAs and PTs offer care delivery, however, the main difference is that while a PA may never be a completely autonomous specialist, a PT can if he or she so desires. When compared to PT, PA has far fewer job prospects.

We are therefore going to list out the difference involved in Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist according to the following criteria:

  • Employment
  • Education
  • Certification / Licensing
  • Working Environment
  • Pay

Read also: Difference Between Undergraduate and Postgraduate Study

READ:  10 Easiest Physical Therapy Schools To Get Into

Physician Assistants vs Physical Therapists – Job/Duties

Physician assistants (PAs) examine patients, prescribe medication, and order diagnostic procedures under the guidance of doctors or surgeons.

However, in rural areas, a few regions, and internal areas, they could work more independently, consulting with physicians only when they need assistance with cases.

While a physical therapist’s goal, on the other hand, is to get patients moving again through massage, exercises, and other techniques. They also primarily assist people who are recovering from injuries.

Exercises and other strategies are used to alleviate pain and improve movement and muscle development. Creating fitness and wellness programs with the objective of limiting injuries and enabling people to live a more exciting life.


Physician Assistants vs Physical Therapists(PA vs PT) – Licensing/Certification

Physician assistant licensing requirements depend on the state, yet critical features include passing a national board exam, graduating from an accredited physician assistant training course, and meeting field experience demands.

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While Physical therapy, on the other hand, requires you to be certified as a physical therapist. So, before taking the National PT Examination, you must have graduated from an accredited physical therapy school.

Physician Assistants vs Physical Therapists – Education

Before they can start practicing, just about all PAs need to complete a master’s degree program that lasts 2-3 years.

Those who would like to advance in their careers may choose to pursue a Ph.D., which takes approximately two to three years to complete.

Whereas a master’s degree is required, and PT must hold a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, which typically takes 3 years to complete. A classic master’s degree in physical therapy takes about two years to complete.


Read also: What Can I Do With a Master’s in Education?

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Physician Assistants vs Physical Therapists – Workplace

While most physical therapy takes place in a PT’s department, a physical therapist can also work in the following settings:

  • Workout facilities
  • Clinics or offices for outpatients
  • Home health care services
  • Schools

The physician assistants, on the other hand, work in hospitals, but can also work in other settings, such as;

  • Medical processes in groups
  • Schools
  • Governmental organizations.
  • Rural health centers
  • Phone triage services
  • Clinics in stores
  • Health clinics in the community
  • Centers for Surgery
  • Acute medical facilities

Pay/Salary Differences Between Physician Assistants and Physical Therapists

A physician assistant’s average salary is $96,561, according to Payscale.

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According to the BLS, physical therapists earn $43.00 per hour and $89,440 per year.


Read also: Orthopedic Surgeon: How to Become & Salary

What Are The Similarities Between Physician Assistants(PA) And Physical Therapists(PT)?

Regardless of their differences, physician assistants (PA) and physical therapists (PT) are somewhat alike in some aspects.

Both are vital representatives of the healthcare professions.

PAs and PTs both work in health centers, local hospitals, and emergency rooms, among other places.

Both physician assistants and physical therapists teach people how to avoid and stay injury-free, promote better well‐being, and acquire insights on how to sustain their health very well.


PAs and PTs are directly involved in patient education, patient care, and working toward positive patient outcomes.

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What Are The Best Schools For Physician Assistants(PA)?

The best universities that offer physician assistant (PA) programs are listed below. For more information on the PA programs at each of the schools, visit their websites.

  • 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
  • University of Utah
  • George Washington University
  • Duke University

Read also: Easiest Physician Assistant Schools to Get into

Which Schools Are The Best For Physical Therapists(PT) In The USA?

The following is a list of some of the best physical therapy (PT) programs in the United States:

Read also: Top 10 Emergency Medicine Residency Programs, Requirements, and Tuition



Physical therapists and physician assistants are both affiliated medical practitioners who treat similar situations and participate in a variety of other medical practices. They do, however, have their differences which were covered in this article. Nonetheless, both types of careers are required depending on one’s specific situation and individual requirements.

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