How Much Do Physical Therapists Make?
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- Physical therapists make a median yearly salary of $95,620.
- The physical therapy field is growing faster than the average for all occupations.
- States such as Nevada, California, and Connecticut pay higher salaries.
- Earn more money as a physical therapist by choosing a specialty, relocating, or offering telehealth appointments.
Physical therapists (PTs) earn double the median annual salary of all other jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This healthcare career requires a doctor of physical therapy, as well as a state licensure exam. This degree qualifies you to work with patients in a hands-on capacity, leading patients of all ages through physical exercises.
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PTs help patients manage or recover from an injury, illness, disability, or medical condition. Physical therapist jobs might be available in a clinic, hospital, or sports facility. PTs can earn more money by specializing in a certain field or moving to another, higher-paying state.
What Is the Average Physical Therapist Salary?
The BLS listed the median annual salary for physical therapists as $95,620 or $45.97 per hour. In 2021, the highest 10% of physical therapists earned more than $127,110.
Physical therapists working at in-home healthcare services, nursing facilities, and hospitals earned significantly more than physical therapists in an office. Payscale reports an entry-level physical therapist may only earn an average salary of $68,053 as of July 2022. However, physical therapists with over twenty years of experience made an average salary of $88,617.
Job Growth for Physical Therapists
The physical therapy field is growing faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS projects that from 2020-2030, there will be 15,600 new physical therapist jobs each year. The baby boomer generation regularly uses physical therapy to stay active or recover from injury. As chronic disease becomes more common, the demand for additional physical therapists may also increase.
How Much Do Physical Therapists Make By State?
Some states pay a higher physical therapist salary than others. The highest-paying states for physical therapists and their annual mean wages are:
- Nevada — $104,210
- California — $103,510
- Connecticut — $101,180
- Delaware — $100,490
- New Jersey — $99,530
In some cases, these states might pay physical therapists more simply because they are larger or have more metropolitan areas. Larger urban areas may have a higher concentration of specialized facilities that pay physical therapists well. High-paying locations include home healthcare services, nursing facilities, and hospitals.
Physical Therapist Median Salary by State (2021)
Where Can I Make the Most Money as a Physical Therapist?
The highest-paying states for physical therapists almost all reach six figures. While the numbers look promising, it's important to consider the cost of living in these states. California, New Jersey, and Connecticut are three of the five states with the highest cost of living in 2022.
|State||Annual Mean Salary|
Highest-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Physical Therapists
Physical therapists can often earn higher salaries by practicing in a metropolitan area. Three of the top five highest-paying metropolitan areas are in California. Overall, the job market for physical therapists in California is growing, with jobs expected to increase by 22.4% between 2018 and 2028.
|Metropolitan Area||Annual Mean Salary|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$123,190|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$118,370|
|Carson City, NV||$114,470|
Highest-Paying Nonmetropolitan Areas for Physical Therapists
Perhaps surprisingly, rural physical therapy can also be a lucrative career path. According to the BLS, job prospects are better in rural areas because many PTs live in urban areas.
Yet one in five rural Americans are over 65 years old, increasing the need for physical therapy in these locations. The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates rural America has 34% fewer physical therapists per patient.
|Nonmetropolitan Area||Annual Mean Salary|
|Eastern New Mexico||$106,050|
Highest-Paying Industries for Physical Therapists
Physical therapists can earn a higher salary by specializing. Environments such as outpatient care centers, home health companies, and government facilities tend to pay more than doctor’s offices.
|Industry||Annual Mean Salary|
|Outpatient Care Centers||$111,410|
|Home Health Care Services||$105,510|
|Child Day Care Services||$102,050|
|Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals||$101,290|
|Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)||$100,760|
How Can I Increase My Salary as a Physical Therapist?
Choose a Specialty
One method of boosting your physical therapist salary is specializing in a certain area. In an American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists employer survey, 39% said they would consider a salary boost for those who obtain a specialist certification. Available physical therapist specialties include:
- Cardiovascular and Pulmonary
- Clinical Electrophysiology
- Women's Health
- Wound Management
You can earn your physical therapist specialist certification through the American Board of Physical Therapy. You'll need evidence of 2,000 hours of direct patient care in your chosen specialty area within the last 10 years. Then you'll need to pass an exam to receive your certification.
Provide Telehealth Services
While it may be more difficult to conduct a physical therapy assessment or session via telehealth, it's still possible. And it makes a major difference in earning potential. Conduct video calls with clients who might not feel comfortable coming into the clinic due to COVID or who struggle to include PT into their busy workday. This may allow you to fit more clients into your schedule and earn more.
Depending on state policies, you may be able to conduct telehealth sessions across state lines. This reaches additional patients who can't come into the clinic.
Moving states and finding a new physical therapist job in that state can help you make more money. The states with the highest average salaries for physical therapists are:
- New Jersey
Rural areas of Tennessee, where the cost of living is lower, also pay more.
Switching industries to focus in a more specialized area is another way to boost your earning potential. Increase your salary by moving to an industry such as:
- Outpatient care centers
- Home healthcare services
- Child daycare services
- Local government (excluding schools and hospitals)
- Nursing care facilities
Open Your Own Clinic
While this isn't for everyone, opening your own physical therapy clinic could help you earn higher pay. You can choose your location and focus on a niche that pays more. You can also choose whether to accept cash or insurance and set up a marketing plan to bring more business into the clinic.
Frequently Asked Questions About Physical Therapist Salary
Is becoming a physical therapist worth it?
The answer to this question will vary for everyone — but in most cases, the answer is yes. Physical therapy is a rewarding career. You're able to work directly with patients to improve their mobility and quality of life.
Jobs for physical therapists are in high demand, with 15,600 new openings projected each year in the next decade. And the earning potential in the physical therapy field is good, too. The median annual salary for physical therapists is $95,620, with the highest-paid physical therapists making more than $127,110. Becoming a physical therapist takes a lot of hard work, but comes with rewards.
Where do physical therapists make the most money?
Physical therapists make the most money in Nevada, California, Connecticut, Delaware, and New Jersey. Four out of five of these states pay physical therapists an average of a six-figure annual salary. In metropolitan areas, physical therapists can earn the most in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California; Midland, Texas; Napa, California; and Carson City, Nevada.
Physical therapists also earn higher salaries in rural areas like eastern New Mexico, central Louisiana, Alaska, Connecticut, and west Tennessee. You can increase your salary as a physical therapist by relocating to one of these states or areas.
Which physical therapist jobs pay the most?
The physical therapists who earn the most work in outpatient care centers; home healthcare services; child daycare services; local government facilities (excluding schools and hospitals); or nursing care facilities. Physical therapists can also make more money by earning the specialist certification.
Specialties include cardiovascular and pulmonary; clinical electrophysiology; oncology; women's health; geriatrics; neurology; orthopedics; pediatrics; sports; and wound management. Specializing in a certain area is a good way to land a physical therapist job that offers a higher salary.
How can a physical therapist make more money?
You can make more money by earning a specialization certification; providing telehealth services; relocating to a higher-paying area; switching industries; or opening your own clinic. According to a survey, 39% of employers said they would consider higher salaries for employees who have a specialized certification from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists.
Offering telehealth appointments allows you to reach additional clients. Moving states or switching industries to work at a different type of facility can also boost your salary. And opening your own clinic is another way to potentially make more money as a physical therapist.
What is the highest salary a physical therapist can make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest 10% of physical therapists earned more than $127,110 (compared to the median annual salary of $95,620). In certain states or areas, physical therapists may be able to earn a higher salary.
Nevada pays an average salary of $104,210 per year; the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California area pays $123,190; and eastern New Mexico pays $106,050. Outpatient care centers pay more money at $11,410 per year.