How Much Does a Physical Therapist Make a Year: A Comprehensive Guide to Annual Pay


Physical therapy is a branch of healthcare that helps patients recover from various physical disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. It involves the use of manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, and electrotherapy to address musculoskeletal, neurological, and cardiopulmonary problems, among others. Physical therapists work with patients of all ages and backgrounds, with the goal of improving their mobility, strength, and physical function.

Physical therapy is a critical component of healthcare, as it helps restore normal bodily functions and improves quality of life. Without the assistance of physical therapists, many individuals with physical impairments would be unable to move properly, necessitating the aid of a caregiver for several activities of daily living.

In this article, we will explore the salary range of physical therapists, examine the factors that influence their annual pay, and provide insight into different specialties within physical therapy that offer varying levels of compensation.

Unlocking the Salary Secrets of Physical Therapists: A Comprehensive Guide to Annual Pay

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for physical therapists was $91,000 in May 2020. The top 10 percent of physical therapists earned more than $124,740, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $62,120.

As with most professions, physical therapist salaries are influenced by various factors, including education and experience, geographic location, and work setting. Additionally, seniority and specialized certifications can command higher salaries.

The BLS projects employment for physical therapists to grow 18 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is mainly due to an aging population that requires physical therapy services to address age-related conditions. Moreover, advances in medical technology and the increased demand for physical therapy services as a result of healthcare policy changes have also contributed to this growth.

Behind the Numbers: Examining the Factors That Influence Physical Therapist Salaries

Education and experience are among the most significant factors that influence physical therapist salaries. As medical professionals, physical therapists are required to possess a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, which typically takes three years of study after earning an undergraduate degree. Additional certifications, such as those in specialized areas, can also increase salaries.

Geographic location is also a significant determinant of physical therapist salaries. A physical therapist working in a metropolitan area or a region with a higher cost of living can expect to earn a higher salary than one in a small town or rural area.

Work setting is another critical factor that influences physical therapist salaries. Physical therapists can work in various settings, such as hospitals, private practices, nursing homes, schools, and home health services, among others. As you might expect, the salaries of physical therapists in hospitals and private practices tend to be higher than those working in schools or home health services.

From Entry-Level to Executive: An Inside Look at the Range of Physical Therapist Salaries

Physical therapist salaries can differ based on seniority within the profession. Entry-level physical therapists usually make less than mid-level physical therapists, who typically have three to five years of experience. Meanwhile, executive-level physical therapists, such as clinical directors, can earn significantly more than mid-level physical therapists.

Entry-level physical therapists can expect to earn between $60,000 and $70,000 annually, while mid-level physical therapists can make between $80,000 and $90,000 annually. Clinical directors, on the other hand, can earn more than $100,000 annually, depending on the facility and the region.

While executive-level physical therapists’ salaries may be lucrative, they often come with significant responsibilities that require a deep understanding of business operations. Therefore, some physical therapists may prefer to remain at the mid-level, which allows them to continue treating patients while also supervising other physical therapists in an entry-level position.

Making a Living as a PT: A Comparison of Salaries Across Different Specialties and Regions

Physical therapists can specialize in various areas, such as pediatric physical therapy, sports medicine, neurology, women’s health, and orthopedics, among others. Specializing in an area of expertise can lead to a higher salary, but it’s essential to consider if the increased salary is worth the added responsibility.

According to BLS data, physical therapists working in nursing care facilities and skilled nursing facilities earn the highest annual salaries, followed by those working in home health services and hospitals. Physical therapists in rural areas can make significantly less than those working in urban or suburban areas, due in part to a limited number of opportunities.

The Future of Physical Therapist Salaries: Trends to Watch in the Next Decade

The physical therapy field is evolving, and advances in technology could have a significant impact on the profession’s future. In recent years, virtual physical therapy services have become increasingly popular, with the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating their adoption significantly. Virtual services enable physical therapists to reach patients in remote areas, as well as provide a convenient option for those who prefer in-home care.

Changes in healthcare policy could also have an impact on physical therapist salaries. For instance, the Affordable Care Act has increased access to physical therapy services, leading to higher demand for physical therapists. Meanwhile, value-based care models, which focus on the quality and effectiveness of healthcare, could lead to changes in physical therapy payment models and the demand for certain services.

A Day in the Life of a Physical Therapist: Balancing Passion with Paycheck

A typical day for a physical therapist could involve evaluating patients, creating treatment plans, and helping patients perform exercises to improve their mobility and strength. Physical therapists work with patients of all ages and conditions, from children with developmental disabilities to adults recovering from orthopedic surgery.

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a physical therapist is seeing patients recover and regain their independence. However, it’s important to note that physical therapy can also be emotionally and physically demanding. Physical therapists must be empathetic and patient, and they must also possess strong analytical skills to diagnose and create personalized treatment plans best.

Despite its challenges, physical therapy is a fulfilling and stable career that provides a comfortable living. With the growing demand for physical therapy services and advances in medical technology, the future of physical therapy looks bright, and it’s a field worth considering for anyone interested in healthcare and helping others.


Physical therapy is a branch of healthcare that plays a crucial role in improving patients’ quality of life. As we’ve seen, physical therapist salaries can vary based on factors such as educational background, experience, geographic location, work setting, level of seniority, and area of specialty. Nonetheless, physical therapy is a stable and fulfilling career path that offers a high level of job satisfaction and career growth.

If you’re passionate about healthcare and want to make a difference in people’s lives, physical therapy could be the perfect career path. And as demand for physical therapy services continues to grow, so does the potential for career advancement and earning potential.

Webben Editor

Hello! I'm Webben, your guide to intriguing insights about our diverse world. I strive to share knowledge, ignite curiosity, and promote understanding across various fields. Join me on this enlightening journey as we explore and grow together.

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