How Much Do Physical Therapists Make: An In-Depth Look at Salaries and Earning Potential


If you’re considering a career as a physical therapist, you may be wondering how much you can expect to earn. Salaries in this profession can vary widely based on a variety of factors, from education and experience to location and specialty.

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of physical therapy salaries, including median income data, comparisons to other healthcare professions, and strategies for maximizing earning potential. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to advance your career, this guide can help you make informed decisions about your future in physical therapy.

The Road to Becoming a Physical Therapist: An Analysis of Earnings Potential

Before diving into earnings data, it’s important to understand the educational and licensing requirements for physical therapists. To become a licensed PT, you must first earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited program. This typically takes around three years, and many programs require a bachelor’s degree for admission.

After completing your DPT, you’ll need to pass both national and state licensing exams to practice. You may also choose to pursue additional training or certification in a specialty area, which can impact your earning potential.

All of these requirements can add up in terms of time and money, which can affect your overall earnings potential. However, they also ensure that physical therapists are highly trained and qualified healthcare professionals, which can translate into higher salaries in many cases.

Beyond education and licensing, other factors can also influence a physical therapist’s earnings potential. Geographic location plays a big role, with some states and regions offering higher salaries than others. Specialty areas can also impact salary, with certain niches like orthopedic or sports physical therapy offering higher rates of pay.

Breaking Down the Numbers: How Much Do Physical Therapists Really Earn?

So, how much do physical therapists really make? According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for physical therapists in the US is $89,440. Salaries can range from around $60,000 to over $120,000 depending on various factors.

Location is a major factor in these salary variations. For example, physical therapists in California and Texas tend to earn higher-than-average salaries, while those in states like West Virginia and Arkansas may earn less.

The type of setting in which a physical therapist works can also impact salary. Those who work in hospitals or outpatient care centers may earn more than those who work in schools or nursing homes, for example. Finally, experience plays a big role in salary as well, with more experienced physical therapists generally earning higher salaries.

When compared to other healthcare professions, physical therapy salaries tend to be in the middle to upper range. For example, dental hygienists and occupational therapists earn slightly less than PTs, while physician assistants and nurse practitioners tend to earn more.

Is Physical Therapy a Lucrative Career Choice? An In-Depth Look at Salaries

So, is physical therapy a good career choice from a salary perspective? The answer depends largely on your individual goals and priorities.

On the one hand, physical therapy salaries are generally competitive for healthcare professionals and can provide a good income. Additionally, some specialties within physical therapy can offer even higher salaries, such as those in pediatrics or neurology.

However, it’s important to consider the potential downsides as well. For example, physical therapy can be a physically demanding job that may require long hours or weekend work. Additionally, the cost of education and licensing can be significant, and salaries may not increase much over time unless you specialize or move into management.

When it comes to maximizing earning potential within physical therapy, there are a few key strategies to keep in mind. One is to focus on areas that are likely to be in high demand, such as geriatric physical therapy or sports medicine. Another is to keep an eye on industry trends and emerging technologies, such as telehealth or virtual reality, that could provide new opportunities for income growth.

Finally, it can be helpful to learn from the experiences of other physical therapists. For example, talking to colleagues or networking with industry professionals can help you understand what it takes to succeed in different physical therapy specialties or income brackets.

The Top-Paying Cities for Physical Therapists: Findings from a National Survey

If you’re looking to maximize your earning potential as a physical therapist, it can be helpful to know which cities or metro areas offer the highest salaries. According to a recent survey by U.S. News and World Report, some of the top-paying cities for physical therapists include:

– Vallejo-Fairfield, CA
– San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
– Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV
– San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
– Anchorage, AK

While these cities may offer high salaries, it’s important to consider other factors as well, such as the cost of living or the availability of job openings. Additionally, it may not be feasible for all physical therapists to relocate to a higher-paying area.

If you are considering a move, however, it can be helpful to research the area thoroughly and network with other healthcare professionals in the region. Additionally, be sure to factor in other costs like housing, transportation, and taxes when considering a potential relocation.

Comparing Entry-Level vs. Experienced Physical Therapist Salaries: What You Need to Know

One common question among physical therapists is how much salaries tend to increase as they gain experience in the field. Generally speaking, physical therapists can expect their salaries to increase over time as they gain more experience and expertise.

For example, according to, the average salary for a physical therapist with less than five years of experience is around $70,000. This jumps up to around $85,000 for those with 5-10 years of experience, and over $90,000 for therapists with over 10 years of experience.

Of course, these numbers can vary based on factors like location, specialty, and employer type. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that pay raises may not be automatic or guaranteed in every working situation.

Negotiating Your Worth: Tips for Physical Therapists on Maximizing Earnings

If you’re looking to increase your salary as a physical therapist, one of the most important strategies is to know your worth and advocate for yourself during job negotiations. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

– Do your research. Before accepting a job offer, be sure to research the average salary for physical therapists in your area and within your specialty. Sites like or can be helpful for this.
– Be prepared to negotiate. When receiving a job offer, don’t be afraid to negotiate the salary or other benefits like healthcare coverage or vacation time.
– Highlight your experience and qualifications. When advocating for yourself, be sure to highlight the experience or skills that set you apart from other candidates.
– Be open to other forms of compensation. Sometimes employers may not be able to offer a higher salary, but can provide other perks like flexible scheduling or professional development opportunities.

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

Finally, it’s worth considering how the healthcare industry as a whole may impact physical therapy salaries in the coming years. Some potential trends to watch for include:

– Increasing demand for physical therapy services as the population ages and more people seek non-invasive treatment options for chronic pain or injuries
– Advances in telehealth or virtual care that could provide new opportunities for physical therapists to reach patients in remote or underserved areas
– The potential for policy changes or updates to the Medicare payment system, which could impact reimbursements for physical therapy services

By staying informed about these and other trends, physical therapists can better position themselves for success in the years to come.


Overall, physical therapy can be a lucrative career choice for healthcare professionals, with competitive salaries and opportunities for growth over time. By understanding the factors that impact physical therapy salaries, from location and specialty area to experience and industry trends, PTs can make informed decisions about their careers and earning potential. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to advance your career, there are plenty of strategies and insights to help you succeed in this rewarding field.

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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