May 19, 2024
Exploring salary data for physical therapists and the factors affecting earning potential, this article investigates the financial pros and cons of a career in physical therapy, including comparisons to other healthcare careers, top earning specialties, regional variances, and future trends.


When it comes to pursuing a career in physical therapy, many people may be curious about the earning potential of this healthcare profession. However, the information on physical therapy salaries can often be unclear or inconsistent, leaving people unsure about how much they can expect to make in this field. In this article, we’ll explore physical therapy salaries, the factors that affect income, and other financial pros and cons of a career in physical therapy.

The Average Salary of Physical Therapists: Exploring Salary Data and Factors Affecting Income

As of May 2020, the average annual salary for physical therapists was $91,010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, this number can vary depending on factors such as education level, experience, specialty, and location. For example, physical therapists with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree may have a higher earning potential compared to those with a master’s degree or less.

Experience is also a significant factor in determining physical therapy salaries. According to a survey conducted by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapists with less than a year of experience earn an average of $66,000 per year, while those with 31 or more years of experience earn an average of $91,000 per year.

Location can also impact physical therapy salaries, with some states and regions paying more than others. For example, physical therapists working in Nevada earned an average salary of $112,000, while those in Montana earned an average salary of $67,000.

Lastly, the type of physical therapy specialty can also impact salary. For instance, physical therapists who specialize in geriatric care or home health tend to earn more than those working in schools or outpatient clinics.

To PT or Not to PT: Investigating the Financial Pros and Cons of a Career in Physical Therapy

One of the financial benefits of a career in physical therapy is job stability. The demand for physical therapists is expected to grow by 18% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This increase in demand is due to an aging population and an emphasis on preventative care.

However, pursuing a career in physical therapy requires a significant financial investment. Graduating with a DPT degree can cost anywhere from $35,000 to $170,000, depending on the program and location. Additionally, physical therapists are required to complete clinical rotations and internships, which can take several years to accomplish.

It’s crucial to weigh these financial downsides against the potential benefits before making a decision to pursue a career in physical therapy.

Lessons from the Top Earners: How the Highest Paid Physical Therapists Achieved Success

Physical therapists looking to increase their earning potential can consider specializing in a high-paying area of physical therapy, such as sports therapy or neurological rehabilitation. These specialties require additional training and certification, but can yield higher salaries.

Networking and expanding job opportunities can also increase income potential. Physical therapists can offer private services, work as consultants, or even start their own practices.

Physical Therapy Salaries Across the US: Regional Variances and Opportunities

Physical therapy salaries can vary significantly by location. As of 2020, the top-paying states for physical therapists were Nevada, Alaska, California, New Jersey, and Texas, while the lowest-paying states were Montana, Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Physical therapists looking for job opportunities in underserved regions can take advantage of loan forgiveness programs offered by states and the federal government. For example, the National Health Service Corps offers loan repayment assistance to qualified healthcare professionals who commit to working in underserved areas for two years.

The Future of PT Salaries: What the Trends Tell Us About the Growing Demand for Physical Therapy

The demand for physical therapists is expected to continue growing in the coming years. In addition to the aging population and increasing emphasis on preventive care, physical therapists are also needed to provide care for individuals with chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

This growing demand is likely to have a positive impact on physical therapy salaries, as employers compete for qualified professionals. However, it’s important to note that physical therapy may not necessarily offer the highest salaries among healthcare careers.

Breaking Down the Numbers: An In-Depth Look at Physical Therapy Pay and Benefits

Physical therapy salaries are typically calculated based on the number of hours worked and the hourly rate. In addition to their base salary, physical therapists may also receive healthcare benefits, paid time off, and retirement plans.

When negotiating a salary and benefits package, physical therapists should consider their education and experience, the location and type of employer, and the demand for their specialty. Networking and professional development can also increase earning potential.

Physical Therapy vs. Other Healthcare Careers: A Comparison of Pay, Job Satisfaction, and Work-Life Balance

Compared to other healthcare careers such as nursing and occupational therapy, physical therapy offers competitive salaries and job growth opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapy has a projected job growth rate of 18%, compared to 7% for registered nurses and 16% for occupational therapists.

Physical therapists also tend to report high levels of job satisfaction and work-life balance, which can make the financial investment and years of training worth it.


Understanding physical therapy salaries and the factors that impact them is crucial for anyone considering a career in this field. While physical therapy offers competitive salaries and job stability, it requires a significant financial and time investment. By considering the pros and cons and examining their financial goals, individuals can make an informed decision about pursuing a career in physical therapy.

Resources for further research include the American Physical Therapy Association and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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