Physical Therapist Salary Overview

A Physical Therapist works with patients to diagnose and to prescribe and assist with exercises meant to recover strength and range of motion after an injury or surgery or due to debilitation associated with aging or other limiting conditions. A PT must be empathetic and able to work closely with patients as they assist them in their exercise routine.


Location: San Jose Calif., offers the highest average salary range for Physical Therapists, with a high reported annual salary of $88,563. For Staff Physical Therapists working as a team member in a large facility such as a nursing home or hospital, rather than independently, and Senior Physical Therapists, Chicago Ill., offered the highest-paying opportunities, topping out at $80,243. By contrast, the New England region of the United States offered PTs the lowest average annual salaries, at around $52,832.


Average salary: A Physical Therapist earns an average annual salary of $67,251. Staff Physical Therapists can expect to earn about $67,375, while a Senior Physical Therapist's expected salary range is around $77,141 annually.


Tips for advancement: Advancement opportunities for a Physical Therapist lie in continuing and furthering their personal education. Advancement is possible in research and teaching positions, or when a therapist opens their own practice as an independent practitioner.


Perks: Physical therapy offers practitioners a chance to make a real, measurable difference in their patient's day-to-day functionality. Physical Therapists enjoy a more intimate relationship with their clients, and spend most of their time engaged in patient counseling and care, a personally satisfying aspect of the job for many. Hours are usually flexible, including weekends and evenings depending on the patients' schedules and the therapist's preferences. 79 percent of Physical therapists receive medical benefits, while 61 percent enjoy dental coverage and 41 percent have vision insurance.


Tips for landing a raise: When approaching the supervisor for a raise, knowledge is power. Use a salary calculator to get an idea of average salaries in your area. Once you have an idea of what you're worth, be polite but aggressive, and don't be afraid to toot your own horn. One Physical Therapist shares her experience: "I finally found out why men make more money than women, they ask -- it is that simple... My best advice: Report your success (even keep a journal and type it out) and then run, don't walk to ask for that raise. It works!"

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