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How Much does a Physical Therapist Earn?

The median annual wage for physical therapists was $87,930 in May 2018. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $60,390, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $123,350.

In May 2018, the median annual wages for physical therapists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Nursing and residential care facilities$94,010
Home healthcare services92,660
Hospitals; state, local, and private89,950
Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists83,280

Most physical therapists work full time. Although most therapists work during normal business hours, some may work evenings or weekends.

Career Outlook for Physical Therapists

Employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 22 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Demand for physical therapy will come in part from the large number of aging baby boomers, who are staying more active later in life than their counterparts of previous generations. Older people are more likely to experience heart attacks, strokes, and mobility-related injuries that require physical therapy for rehabilitation.

In addition, a number of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, have become more prevalent in recent years. More physical therapists will be needed to help these patients maintain their mobility and manage the effects of chronic conditions.

Advances in medical technology have increased the use of outpatient surgery to treat a variety of injuries and illnesses. Medical and technological developments also are expected to permit a greater percentage of trauma victims and newborns with birth defects to survive, creating additional demand for rehabilitative care. Physical therapists will continue to play an important role in helping these patients recover more quickly from surgery.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities are expected to be good for licensed physical therapists in all settings. Job prospects should be particularly good in acute-care hospitals, skilled-nursing facilities, and orthopedic settings, where the elderly are most often treated. Job prospects should be especially favorable in rural areas because many physical therapists live in highly populated urban and suburban areas.