Pursuing a career in Physical Therapy can be very rewarding with regards to compensation. As the table suggests, the average annual salary of physical therapists in the United States is $82k which equates to an hourly wage of about $40. If you’re able to relocate, do consider some of the top paying states as well as the ones that have the most employed.

For example, if a Maryland resident is eager to move to Nevada for the benefit of receiving an annual salary of $115k, they will also see that they have a potential opportunity to make $87k within their home state. Additionally, there are other factors such as the industry the profession is in. If you’re able to keep your options open, you have many more opportunities to earn a higher salary.

Average Physical Therapist Salary

The salary of physical therapists vary greatly between the lowest and highest percentiles. Average annual salary in the bottom percentile is $56k and $113k in the top. Your starting salary will depend on a number of factors such as location and industry, which will be covered further below.

Hourly Wage$27.07$32.55$38.94$45.10$54.47
Weekly Wage$1,083$1,302$1,558$1,804$2,179
Monthly Salary$4,692$5,642$6,750$7,817$9,442
Annual Salary$56,300$67,700$81,000$93,800$113,300

Industries with the Highest Physical Therapy Salary

To no surprise, the industry with the highest average salary for physical therapists is with private corporations at $151k. There aren’t too many openings in this industry, so the best bet would be to work in the home health care services, which averages $91k a year.

RankIndustriesHourly WageWeekly WageMonthly SalaryAnnual SalaryEmployment Level
1Management of Companies and Enterprises$72.79$2,912$12,617$151,400 1,200
2Other schools and instruction, Privately owned$44.47$1,779$7,708$92,500N/A
3Other Schools and Instruction (including private, state, and local government schools)$44.47$1,779$7,708$92,500N/A
4Home Health Care Services$43.85$1,754$7,600$91,200 24,000
5Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)$41.97$1,679$7,275$87,300 12,000
6Nursing and Residential Care Facilities$41.63$1,665$7,217$86,600 14,000
7Services for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities$41.49$1,660$7,192$86,300 1,000
8Individual and Family Services$41.39$1,656$7,175$86,100 1,000
9Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly$40.91$1,637$7,092$85,100 2,000
10Social Assistance$40.82$1,633$7,075$84,900 2,000

Best States for Physical Therapy Wages

Nevada topped the list of states with the highest average physical therapist salary at $115k. Alaska, New Jersey, Texas and California round off the top paying states. Also, go to the physical therapy salary by state table for a comparison of all states.

RankSalaries by StatesHourly WageWeekly WageMonthly SalaryAnnual SalaryEmployment Level
1Nevada$55.38$2,215$9,600$115,200 1,000
3California$43.89$1,756$7,608$91,300 16,000
4Texas$43.70$1,748$7,575$90,900 11,000
5New Jersey$43.65$1,746$7,567$90,800 7,000
6Maryland$41.92$1,677$7,267$87,200 4,000
7New Mexico$40.72$1,629$7,058$84,700 1,000
8Connecticut$40.53$1,621$7,025$84,300 4,000
9Mississippi$40.24$1,610$6,975$83,700 2,000
10Alabama$40.14$1,606$6,958$83,500 2,000

Lowest Paying States for Physical Therapists

The lowest paying state is North Dakota at $68k. Montana, South Dakota, and Vermont were also in the states with the lowest physical therapy wages.

RankSalaries by StatesHourly WageWeekly WageMonthly SalaryAnnual SalaryEmployment Level
1North Dakota$32.64$1,306$5,658$67,900600
2Montana$33.13$1,325$5,742$68,900 1,000
3South Dakota$33.51$1,340$5,808$69,700600
5Colorado$35.67$1,427$6,183$74,200 5,000
6Missouri$35.91$1,437$6,225$74,700 4,000
7Nebraska$35.96$1,438$6,233$74,800 1,000
8Kansas$36.25$1,450$6,283$75,400 2,000
9New Hampshire$36.59$1,463$6,342$76,100 1,000
10South Carolina$36.78$1,471$6,375$76,500 2,000

Top Paying Metropolitan Cities for Physical Therapists

With its outrageous cost of living, the Bay area in Northern California topped the list of highest paying cities at $103k. 

RankMetropolitan CitiesHourly WageWeekly WageMonthly SalaryAnnual SalaryEmployment Level
1San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA$49.28$1,971$8,542$102,500800
2Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, MD$48.17$1,927$8,350$100,2001,000
3Edison-New Brunswick, NJ$47.21$1,888$8,183$98,2002,000
4Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA$46.59$1,863$8,075$96,9001,000
5Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI$46.25$1,850$8,017$96,200500
6Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA$45.34$1,813$7,858$94,3002,000
7Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX$45.05$1,802$7,808$93,7002,000
8Gary, IN$43.89$1,756$7,608$91,300500
9Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI$42.60$1,704$7,383$88,6002,000
10Newark-Union, NJ-PA$42.31$1,692$7,333$88,0002,000

Top Paying Non-Metropolitan Areas for Physical Therapists

Salaries in nine out of the top ten suburban areas were over six figures. At the top was Southeast Arizona with an annual physical therapist salary of $116k.

RankNon-Metropolitan AreasHourly WageWeekly WageMonthly SalaryAnnual SalaryEmployment Level
1Southeast Arizona$55.63$2,225$9,642$115,70030
2Other Nevada$54.09$2,163$9,375$112,50040
3Sussex County, Delaware$52.21$2,088$9,050$108,60080
4Northwest Iowa$50.53$2,021$8,758$105,100200
5Upper Eastern Shore$50.43$2,017$8,742$104,900100
6Southwestern New Mexico$49.90$1,996$8,650$103,80030
7Northeast Alabama$49.42$1,977$8,567$102,80080
8Gulf Coast Texas$49.09$1,963$8,508$102,10080
9Eastern Texas$48.41$1,937$8,392$100,700300
10Eastern and Southern Colorado$47.45$1,898$8,225$98,70090

Highest Physical Therapist Employment Level by States

The state with the highest number of employed physical therapists is California with 16k. New York was second with 14k.

RankStatesHourly WageWeekly WageMonthly SalaryAnnual SalaryEmployment Level
1California$43.89$1,756$7,608$91,300 16,000
2New York$38.32$1,533$6,642$79,700 14,000
3Florida$39.90$1,596$6,917$83,000 12,000
4Texas$43.70$1,748$7,575$90,900 11,000
5Pennsylvania$37.98$1,519$6,583$79,000 10,000
6Illinois$37.16$1,487$6,442$77,300 10,000
7Michigan$38.85$1,554$6,733$80,800 8,000
8New Jersey$43.65$1,746$7,567$90,800 7,000
9Ohio$39.13$1,565$6,783$81,400 7,000
10Massachusetts$39.33$1,573$6,817$81,800 7,000

Job Outlook

The number of physical therapists is expected to increase significantly by 36% (73,500 new professionals) between 2012 and 2022. This compares to much slower growth of 11% for all occupations, and 20% for similar jobs.

Employment Projections Data for Physical Therapists, 2012-2022 
Employment, 2012 204,200
Projected Employment, 2022 277,700
Employment Difference: 73,500
Physical Therapists36%
Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners20%
Total, All Occupations11%

Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics

How to Become a Physical Therapist

physical therapist salary dataPhysical Therapists (PTs) are licensed professionals who help injured individuals improve their performance in physical activities. Generally,  duties include  examining, diagnosing, and resolving  any patient issues.

Becoming a physical therapist requires extensive education and in order to do so, you would have to obtain a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapist program and pass the national license examination.

However, the salary of physical therapists can be rewarding. The average physical therapist salary in the United States is $81,100 and can earn easily over over six figures depending on experience and the type of practice. To put it into perspective, the physical therapy wages can be as high as $50.00 an hour.

With over 21% of physical therapists (1 out of 5 PTs) opening up their own business, you can see that this career path is lucrative and offer unlimited growth opportunities.

Physical Therapist Job Description

As we just mentioned, the general role of a physical therapist is to examine, diagnose, and resolve the patient’s problem(s). Diving in a little deeper, therapists follow three general steps:

  1. Diagnose and manage the dysfunction and/or disability and to improve the physical and functional abilities
  2. Rehabilitate, maintain, and encourage  the overall physical capabilities related to movement and health
  3. Prevent re-occurrences of the dysfunctions and/or disabilities that may result to a detriment impact such as disorders and injuries.

On a daily basis, physical therapists engage in many tasks with their patient. During the examination process, a physical therapist retrieves the patient’s history, conducts a systems review, and performs tests to identify the existing and future problems.

Once the problem has been identified, the therapist will provide interventions to the patient. In other words, they will instruct the patient in ways to manage the dysfunction.  During and after the intervention, the therapist will reexamine the patient and make necessary changes to the intervention process to achieve desired goals and outcomes.

Finally, the physical therapist will develop and execute the discharge plans for the patient to prevent re-occurrences and to maintain an optimal wellness of the dysfunction.

Education Requirements and Other Qualifications

In order to practice as a physical therapist, you must have a bachelor’s degree with certain prerequisites (for example, biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, and pharmacology) and obtain a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) graduate degree from an accredited physical therapist program.

Subsequently, the state requires you to pass the national licensing exam. Depending on the individual, the DPT program takes approximately three years to complete.

Additional and Optional Education:

Physical therapists can enhance their knowledge and skills by receiving their Clinical Residency, Clinical Fellowship, and Specialty Certification. Obtaining the following will result in excellent pay thus increasing your salary as a physical therapist. Within a Clinical Residency, the therapist would engage in an additional one year of training and experience in specialty areas of care.

If the therapist chooses to extend their education after completing the Clinical Residency program, they may choose to specialize further by completing a Clinical Fellowship program. The Clinical Fellowship program requires the therapist to have a minimum of 1-2 years of post-professional orthopaedic clinical experience before entering into the program.

Additionally, the program can take anywhere between eleven months to no longer than 36 months and require a minimum of 1,000 clinical hours. A physical therapist may also choose to obtain their Specialty Certification to become a board-certified specialist. Becoming certified makes you more knowledgeable, reputable, and trustworthy to the clients’ eyes, thus, they  would be more willing to pay a premium for your services.

If you are serious about pursuing a career in physical therapy and considering an education program, it is important to consider important factors such as the admission requirements, the length of the program, employment rates, licensing pass rates, the type of degree awarded, and most importantly, the tuition cost and financial aid opportunities.

The tuition cost and financial aid opportunities are the most important factors because it determines whether you can afford the program. On average, the annual tuition fee for a public academic program is $15,800 and for a private academic program, $30,700.

Is This Career Path Worth Pursuing?

physical therapy salary infoAs you can see, becoming a Physical Therapist is rewarding and can be pay quite nicely. As a matter of fact, pursuing this career offers several benefits.

As a physical therapist, you can enjoy the job security, the option to choose your location, and the opportunity to be an entrepreneur. With the recent financial crisis, it has been difficult for many Americans to find a steady career.

However, physical therapy has proven to be in high demand possibly due to the baby boomers whom require these services. It is said that the demand is expected to increase an astounding 30% within the next few years, a jump from 185,500 to 241,700 licensed physical therapists.

Additionally, you can choose your location as a physical therapist or become a traveling physical therapist because there is no specific target of clients within the profession. The clients vary in all ages, shapes, sizes, and from any location within the United States.

Furthermore, a physical therapist has the option to work in hospitals, private practices, home health agencies, fitness facilities, schools, and more. As we noted before, one out of five therapists end up opening their own business, a phenomenal rate in any career. Depending on what route you take, your physical therapist salary will certainly be lucrative.