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.
- 1 Average Physical Therapist Salary
- 2 Industries with the Highest Physical Therapy Salary
- 3 Best States for Physical Therapy Wages
- 4 Lowest Paying States for Physical Therapists
- 5 Top Paying Metropolitan Cities for Physical Therapists
- 6 Top Paying Non-Metropolitan Areas for Physical Therapists
- 7 Highest Physical Therapist Employment Level by States
- 8 Job Outlook
- 9 How to Become a Physical Therapist
- 10 Physical Therapist Job Description
- 11 Education Requirements and Other Qualifications
- 12 Is This Career Path Worth Pursuing?
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.
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.
|Rank||Industries||Hourly Wage||Weekly Wage||Monthly Salary||Annual Salary||Employment Level|
|1||Management of Companies and Enterprises||$72.79||$2,912||$12,617||$151,400||1,200|
|2||Other schools and instruction, Privately owned||$44.47||$1,779||$7,708||$92,500||N/A|
|3||Other Schools and Instruction (including private, state, and local government schools)||$44.47||$1,779||$7,708||$92,500||N/A|
|4||Home Health Care Services||$43.85||$1,754||$7,600||$91,200||24,000|
|5||Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)||$41.97||$1,679||$7,275||$87,300||12,000|
|6||Nursing and Residential Care Facilities||$41.63||$1,665||$7,217||$86,600||14,000|
|7||Services for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities||$41.49||$1,660||$7,192||$86,300||1,000|
|8||Individual and Family Services||$41.39||$1,656||$7,175||$86,100||1,000|
|9||Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly||$40.91||$1,637||$7,092||$85,100||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.
|Rank||Salaries by States||Hourly Wage||Weekly Wage||Monthly Salary||Annual Salary||Employment Level|
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.
|Rank||Salaries by States||Hourly Wage||Weekly Wage||Monthly Salary||Annual Salary||Employment Level|
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.
Rank Metropolitan Cities Hourly Wage Weekly Wage Monthly Salary Annual Salary Employment Level 1 San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA $49.28 $1,971 $8,542 $102,500 800 2 Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, MD $48.17 $1,927 $8,350 $100,200 1,000 3 Edison-New Brunswick, NJ $47.21 $1,888 $8,183 $98,200 2,000 4 Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA $46.59 $1,863 $8,075 $96,900 1,000 5 Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI $46.25 $1,850 $8,017 $96,200 500 6 Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA $45.34 $1,813 $7,858 $94,300 2,000 7 Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX $45.05 $1,802 $7,808 $93,700 2,000 8 Gary, IN $43.89 $1,756 $7,608 $91,300 500 9 Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI $42.60 $1,704 $7,383 $88,600 2,000 10 Newark-Union, NJ-PA $42.31 $1,692 $7,333 $88,000 2,000
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.
|Rank||Non-Metropolitan Areas||Hourly Wage||Weekly Wage||Monthly Salary||Annual Salary||Employment Level|
|3||Sussex County, Delaware||$52.21||$2,088||$9,050||$108,600||80|
|5||Upper Eastern Shore||$50.43||$2,017||$8,742||$104,900||100|
|6||Southwestern New Mexico||$49.90||$1,996||$8,650||$103,800||30|
|8||Gulf Coast Texas||$49.09||$1,963||$8,508||$102,100||80|
|10||Eastern and Southern Colorado||$47.45||$1,898||$8,225||$98,700||90|
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.
|Rank||States||Hourly Wage||Weekly Wage||Monthly Salary||Annual Salary||Employment Level|
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|
|Projected Employment, 2022||277,700|
|Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners||20%|
|Total, All Occupations||11%|
Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics
How to Become a Physical Therapist
Physical 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:
- Diagnose and manage the dysfunction and/or disability and to improve the physical and functional abilities
- Rehabilitate, maintain, and encourage the overall physical capabilities related to movement and health
- 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?
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.