How Much Do Physical Therapists Make? Discover the Average PT Salary and Factors That Affect Earnings

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If you’re considering a career as a physical therapist, one of the first questions that probably comes to mind is how much money you can expect to earn. The answer isn’t simple or straightforward since there are many factors that influence PT salaries. However, if you want to know more about average physical therapist earnings and what affects those earnings, keep reading!

Physical therapists play an essential role in helping individuals recover from injuries and disabilities, improve their mobility, and manage chronic pain. As such, it’s no surprise that this profession attracts many hard-working and compassionate individuals. But how much do they get paid? PT salaries vary depending on various aspects, including location, experience level, education, and the industry where they work.

Knowing the typical salary range for physical therapists will be helpful when deciding whether this career path is suitable for you. Furthermore, understanding which factors have the most significant impact on earnings can help you make informed decisions about your employment prospects and earning potential.

“The road to success is not easy to navigate, but with hard work, drive, and passion, it’s possible to reach the destination.” -Juliani

This post provides an overview of the average physical therapist salary, breaks down the different factors that affect pay rates, discusses why salaries might differ by region or employer, and offers some tips on how to maximize your earning potential as a physical therapist. Read on to discover all you need to know about how much physical therapists make!

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Understanding the Different Types of Physical Therapists and Their Salaries

If you are considering a career in physical therapy, it’s essential to understand that there are various types of physical therapists. Each type focuses on specific areas of rehabilitation and has unique salary ranges. Understanding these types will help you choose the right specialty for your skills and interests.

The Importance of Knowing the Various Types of Physical Therapists

Physical therapy is a broad field that includes different specialties. To find out how much physical therapists make, you should know which type of physical therapist you want to be.

Orthopedic Physical Therapy: Orthopedic physical therapists deal with musculoskeletal issues such as sprains, fractures, and chronic conditions like arthritis. They use exercises, stretches, massage, and other techniques to reduce pain and improve function, ensuring patients can do daily activities without difficulty.

Geriatric Physical Therapy: Geriatric physical therapists focus on improving mobility and strength for older adults. They treat those who have age-related medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or osteoporosis.

Pediatric Physical Therapy: Pediatric physical therapists work with infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents to help them achieve gross motor milestones. They often address developmental delays, injuries, and congenital disabilities.

Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation: Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation physical therapists manage heart and lung-related health issues. These may include heart attacks, strokes, COPD, or asthma. With proper treatment, their patients can recover and regain their ability to perform everyday tasks.

The Average Salaries of Different Physical Therapist Specialties

The average salaries depend on factors such as experience, location, and employer. Let’s look at the salaries of different types of physical therapists, based on data from

  • Orthopedic Physical Therapy Average Salary: The average salary for orthopedic physical therapists is around $94,690 per year. Their salary ranges between $80,594 to $109,657, depending on their experience, location, and specialty.
  • Geriatric Physical Therapy Average Salary: The average annual salary for geriatric physical therapists is about $79,343 per year. Salaries can range from $68,005 to $91,090 a year.
  • Pediatric Physical Therapy Average Salary: Pediatric physical therapists earn an average salary of $82,054 annually. However, this figure depends on factors that affect it. These include education level, years of experience, certification, and geographic location.
  • Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Average Salary: Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation physical therapists are highly specialized professionals that earn high salaries. They receive an average salary of $101,314 per year. This amount may increase or decrease based on their job responsibilities or work locations.

It’s worth noting that salaries vary by state and even city. For example, states like New Jersey, California, and Texas pay higher wages to physical therapists than other states. Your level of education, credentials, and length in your profession also plays a significant role in determining your pay rate.

“Physical therapy doesn’t know age limits.”

As you pursue your career, it’s best to get as much information as possible regarding different types of physical therapy specialties. Knowing what to expect will help you choose your preferred field and give you an insight into what earning potential you can expect in that field.

Factors That Affect Physical Therapist Salaries: Location, Experience, and Specialty

Physical therapy is a highly rewarding career that involves helping individuals restore their physical abilities after an injury or illness. The median annual salary for physical therapists in the United States is around $89,202 as of 2021. However, this figure varies depending on multiple factors.

How Location Can Influence Physical Therapist Salaries

The geographic location where a physical therapist practices can influence his or her salary significantly. In general, salaries tend to be higher in states with a higher cost of living. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), California is the highest-paying state for physical therapists, with an average annual salary of $106,470 as of May 2020. Other high-paying states include New Jersey, Texas, Nevada, and Alaska.

In contrast, areas with lower costs of living may offer lower salaries. For instance, physical therapists practicing in rural areas or small towns may earn less than those working in urban centers such as Los Angeles or New York City. Similarly, physical therapists working in non-metropolitan areas may earn around 10% to 20% less compared to their colleagues in metropolitan centers.

The Role of Experience in Physical Therapist Salaries

Experience is another important factor that influences physical therapist salaries. As a physical therapist gains experience in the field, they are likely to earn a higher income. Entry-level physical therapists typically start at about $60,000 annually and may earn more than six figures over time, depending on how long they stay in the profession.

BLS data shows that physical therapists with five years of experience make approximately $80,000 per year, while those with more than 20 years of experience can earn upwards of $100,000 annually. Further advancement opportunities can lead to higher salaries than these as well.

The Impact of Specialty on Physical Therapist Salaries

Certain specialties in physical therapy may also influence a therapist’s salary. For instance, physical therapists who specialize in geriatric care tend to earn more than those who work with other age groups. Likewise, therapists who specialize in orthopedics or sports medicine often have higher median annual incomes than their generalist counterparts.

Physical therapists working in outpatient facilities typically make more compared to those employed at hospitals or nursing homes. Some therapeutic specialization includes cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, pediatric rehabilitation, and neurology too, among others that are sought by some physical therapists depending on the demand, geography and biases towards specific health problems intervention.

Other Factors That Can Affect Physical Therapist Salaries

In addition to location, experience, and specialty, other factors may influence physical therapist salaries. These include:

  • Type of employer: Private practice owners generally earn higher salaries than those employed by organizations such as hospitals, schools or non-profit companies.
  • Work hours: Full-time physical therapists typically earn more than part-timers because they often receive benefits such as insurance coverage, paid vacation days, retirement savings plans and bonuses for meeting objectives at work.
  • Educational level: Physical therapists who hold advanced degrees like Doctorates of Physical Therapy (DPTs) or certifications beyond state licensure requirements tend to command higher pay than those without them.
  • Professional certification: Physical therapists who obtain certification from specialized professional associations show that they possess an additional level of expertise which is required for specialized practices hence enhance job marketability and salaries.
“Physical therapy, as a profession, is poised to continue growing quickly. With that growth typically comes increased demand and higher salaries.” – APTA President Sharon Dunn

Physical therapist salaries can vary significantly depending on where they work, how long they have been practicing, their areas of expertise, among other factors. Employed physical therapists should assess all these before choosing to specialize or get into practice after graduation if their ambition requires them to earn more salary and at par with the trends in the healthcare industry.

How Education and Certifications Can Influence Physical Therapist Salaries

Physical therapy is a crucial aspect of healthcare, which has led to an increasing demand for physical therapists worldwide. However, the salaries of these professionals may vary depending on several factors, including their education and certifications. In this article, we will explore how education and certification can influence physical therapist salaries.

The Relationship Between Education and Physical Therapist Salaries

Education is one of the most significant factors that affect physical therapist salaries. In general, physical therapists are required to have a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree to be eligible to work in the United States. Compared to bachelor’s degrees or Master’s programs, DPT is costly and requires years of education to complete. Following their graduation from DPT programs, physical therapists must also pass national board exams before they can practice.

According to data gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for physical therapists in May 2019 was $89,440 per year. While entry-level physical therapists usually start with lower salaries, experienced individuals earn significantly higher wages. This proves that earning a DPT degree plays a pivotal role in earning better compensation as a physical therapist.

The Importance of Certifications for Physical Therapist Salaries

Aside from obtaining a DPT degree, getting certified is another way physical therapists can increase their chances of earning more money. There are various certification programs available for professional development in specific areas such as geriatric rehabilitation, orthopedics, neurology, pediatrics, etc. These specializations offer opportunities for advancement into top-paying positions, especially in research facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, sports organizations, and other specialties.

One of the popular certifications among physical therapists is the Orthopedic Certified Specialist (OCS). According to SimplyHired, the average salary for OCS-certified physical therapists is $88,577 annually. On the other hand, non-certified professionals usually earn lower wages, which ranges from $59,000 to $87,972 per year.

The Effect of Continuing Education on Physical Therapist Salaries

Alongside obtaining certifications, continuing education can also positively impact physical therapist salaries. In a constantly evolving industry and with advancing medical discoveries, it is vital that physical therapists stay up-to-date with the latest developments. This ensures that they provide their patients with state-of-the-art treatments and ensure competency in the field.

Continuing education programs may be offered by professional organizations such as American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Most programs award contact hours or CEUs (Continuing Education Units) upon completion, which are then required for license renewal. Even if there’s no immediate financial gain, taking CUEs will help keep your knowledge current and allow you to specialize more, which translates into better positions and higher income down the road. Additionally, companies tend to pay more for people who have taken courses relevant to their fields so that the cost of certificate programs often reimbursed.

“Continuing education plays an essential role when pursuing different career objectives; it allows individuals to acquire competencies that correspond to an elevated level of work performance.” – Liliana Segura

Earning a DPT degree, getting certified, and partaking in continuing education programs are some of the significant factors that influence how much physical therapists make. Along with these considerations, work experience, specialization areas, geographical location, and practice setting play fundamental roles in determining a physical therapist’s salary. As healthcare is becoming increasingly complex due to new technologies and the aging population, compensation for physical therapists should continue to rise as demand for their expertise grows.

The Average Physical Therapist Salary in the United States: Is It a Lucrative Career?

Physical therapy is a rapidly growing field in the healthcare industry. With the increasing demand for physical therapists, potential candidates wonder whether pursuing this career path promises a high salary or not.

The National Average Salary for Physical Therapists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2020, the mean annual wage for physical therapists was $91,010 in the United States. This represents an hourly wage of about $43.75. The salaries vary based on various factors such as location, experience level, and job specialization; New Jersey ($102,880), California ($106,070), and Texas ($94,530) are among the highest paying states.

Apart from different regions’ pay scales, working environments affect income levels too. Physical therapists who were employed at nursing care facilities earned the most significant average salary of $107,320 annually. Those working under home health care services have an average earning of $96,640 yearly. In contrast, outpatient centers offered approximately $89,500 as the mean annual compensation in the United States.

Furthermore, selecting a specific area of practice can significantly impact a physical therapist’s salary. As stated by, specialists like Pediatric Physical Therapists or Geriatric Physical Therapists earn more than their colleagues with general expertise, making around $81k-$104k per year.

Comparing Physical Therapist Salaries to Other Healthcare Professions

If we compare physical therapist salaries to other professionals in the health sector, it seems astonishingly competitive. According to U.S. News & World Report and BLS data, occupational and speech therapists, physician assistants, and registered nurse practitioners make an average annual salary of $86,370, $115,390, and $76,540, respectively. Additionally, most healthcare providers often require a more extended period to achieve their qualifications than physical therapists do.

Accordingly, physical therapy is academically less demanding as compared to most other lucrative careers in the medical field. An individual can become an authorized PT by completing a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in about three years post-Bachelor’s education program.

“Physical therapist salaries are very competitive when compared with similar levels of education and training. At the same time, there is significant demand for top talent in this space, so vetting candidates thoroughly is essential.” -Trevor Miller

The average physical therapist salary in the United States seems impressive and promising, particularly given the low qualification criteria for entry-level positions. Moreover, choosing certain areas of work and gaining expertise can significantly increase one’s earning potential. However, different factors may affect an individual’s income from working location to job specialization.

What Are the Highest Paying States for Physical Therapists?

Physical therapy is a highly sought after profession. With an aging population and increased focus on overall health, demand for physical therapists has skyrocketed in recent years. But with this high demand comes high salaries, with some states offering better compensation than others.

The Top States for Physical Therapist Salaries

If you’re looking to maximize your earning potential as a physical therapist, consider moving to one of these top paying states:

  • California – The Golden State pays its physical therapists an average salary of $105,750 per year.
  • New Jersey – In New Jersey, physical therapists can expect to earn around $97,770 annually.
  • Nevada – Physical therapists in Nevada make an average salary of $97,240 per year.
  • Alaska – Braving the cold climate in Alaska certainly pays off for physical therapists, who make an average annual salary of $96,410 here.
  • Oregon – Rounding out the top five highest paying states for physical therapists is Oregon, where the average salary is $93,800 per year.

It’s worth noting that while these are the top paying states on average, there may be particular cities or regions within each state that offer even higher salaries for physical therapists. It’s important to do your research and check local job listings to find the best opportunities near you.

Factors That Contribute to High Physical Therapist Salaries in Certain States

So why do some states pay physical therapists more than others? Here are a few factors that may contribute:

“The cost of living can play a role in determining average salaries in different states,” explains David Reischer, attorney and CEO of “A higher cost of living raises average salaries relative to the rest of the country.”

This is certainly evident in California, where the high cost of living contributes to the state’s position as the top paying state for physical therapists.

“Another factor that affects salary differences across states are differences in regulations related to individuals providing certain services like therapy,” says Brian Streem, founder and CEO of prescription management company, VeriShip.

For example, some states may require additional certifications or training for physical therapists, which can result in a higher salary for those working in those states. Additionally, demand for physical therapists can vary from state to state, with areas experiencing shortages often offering higher salaries to attract qualified candidates.

If you’re looking to maximize your earning potential as a physical therapist, it’s worth considering a move to one of the highest paying states like California, New Jersey, Nevada, Alaska, or Oregon. Keep in mind that factors like cost of living and state regulations may contribute to these higher salaries, but doing your research and checking local job listings can help you find the best opportunities near you.

How to Negotiate Your Physical Therapist Salary and Benefits Package

Becoming a physical therapist is an excellent career choice, but it’s important to know how much you can expect to make in this line of work. You also need to take into consideration the benefits package that may come with your job offer. In this article, we’ll go over some tips for negotiating both your salary and benefits as a physical therapist.

Tips for Negotiating Your Physical Therapist Salary

The average base salary for a physical therapist in the United States is around $87,930 per year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, salaries can vary depending on different factors such as experience, education level, location, and type of facility you are working at.

If you want to increase your salary negotiation skills, there are some steps you should follow:

  • Do your research: Before starting any negotiations, ensure you have done thorough research of what other employers are offering for similar positions. Also, consider checking out PT salary data from professional organizations or consulting with a recruiter specializing in healthcare.
  • Highlight your past achievements: Once you have researched competitive compensation rates, gather examples of where you’ve excelled in teamwork, patient satisfaction scores, and time efficiency. Mentioning relevant positive feedback might allow your employer to see value in investing more in employee salary.
  • Negotiate beyond just pay: If the initial offer given isn’t ideal, think about asking for extended paid time off, telecommuting opportunities, continuing education allowance, or even physical therapy-related perks like gym memberships or discounts. Play up the qualities of your potential employer and how these could fit in with what you’re looking for.
  • Be confident: One of the essential parts of salary negotiations is building a rapport with your new or prospective employers. When it comes time to bargain, believe in yourself and ask for what you deserve.

The Importance of Considering Benefits When Negotiating Your Physical Therapist Salary

Taking into account the benefits package that can come along with your job offer might be even more impactful than negotiating salary alone. In some cases, healthcare companies have had wage freezes due to budget issues, smoothing out their capabilities of providing pay raises. However, they may provide quite impressive benefits catered towards work-life balance, health care coverage, retirement plans, etc., which can all add significant value to the whole compensation package offered.

If you work for a reputable company, you will find plenty of various employee benefit schemes too. You should consider every option since perks like insurance schemes, paid leave days, flexible hours/work-from-home options, professional development courses funded by the physical therapy facility can make a substantial difference in whatever path you decide on taking.

“I always recommend therapists try to negotiate as inclusive of a salary discussion as possible. Just because you aren’t able to get the exact financial amount desired doesn’t mean there can’t be other mutually beneficial arrangements” – Dan White, Director at HealthCare Appraisers, Inc.

To optimize this process, we suggest making a comprehensive list highlighting cash and non-cash components alike as a starting point. Combine crucial factors such as vacation time-off, official leaves, performance incentives, pension contributions, educational opportunities, gratuity provisions, profit-sharing percentage, sick-day allowances, and disability coverage. Remember, if one aspect isn’t available to leverage, focus on another instead.

Knowing how much physical therapists make in the United States should be useful to aspiring PTs. Furthermore, if you want to maximize your earning potential as a physical therapist, it’s essential to negotiate both salary and benefits packages thoughtfully. Consider seeking input from professional recruiters or investigating average compensation rates for similar roles before discussing any detailed offers with employers to ensure that you are receiving fair value for specialized skills and expertise.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average salary for a physical therapist?

The average salary for a physical therapist in the United States is $89,000 per year. However, this varies depending on location, experience, and setting.

Do physical therapists with more experience earn more?

Yes, physical therapists with more experience generally earn more. According to data, physical therapists with 20 or more years of experience earn an average of $95,000 per year compared to those with less than 5 years of experience who earn an average of $70,000 per year.

What factors affect the salary of a physical therapist?

The factors that affect the salary of a physical therapist include location, experience, setting, specialty, and education. Physical therapists who work in areas with a high cost of living or in specialized settings tend to earn more.

Is there a difference in salary between physical therapists who work in different settings?

Yes, there is a difference in salary between physical therapists who work in different settings. Physical therapists who work in hospitals tend to earn more than those who work in outpatient clinics or nursing homes. However, those who work in specialized settings such as sports therapy may earn more than those in hospitals.

How do physical therapist salaries compare to other healthcare professions?

Physical therapist salaries are competitive compared to other healthcare professions. Physical therapists earn more than occupational therapists and speech therapists but less than physician assistants and nurse anesthetists.

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