To be licensed as a physical therapist in any state you must have a doctor of physical therapy degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Physical therapists, who help patients recover and regain function following an injury or an illness, earn widely varying salaries and enjoy rewarding careers.
What You Can Earn
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists averaged annual wages of $82,180 as of May 2013. The lowest paid 10 percent earned under $56,280 and the highest 10 percent earned above $113,340. The website Indeed, however, indicated as of the date of publication that the average physical therapist job paid $88,000 per year.
Earnings Vary by Location
According to BLS data, 2013 annual salaries for physical therapists ranged from $67,880 in North Dakota to $115,220 in Nevada. Other states with high physical therapist wages included Alaska, where the average was $96,800, and California, with an average of $91,330. Toward the lower end of the range were Vermont, with $72,250, and Montana, with $68,850.
Pay in Different Practice Settings
Physical therapists' earnings may vary by practice setting. According to 2013 BLS data, physical therapists working in hospitals earned an average of $81,410 per year while those employed by home health agencies earned $91,190. Those working in physicians' offices earned an average of $81,460 and those employed by nursing facilities earned $87,250. According to Indeed, the average physical therapy job in private practice paid $82,000 per year as of the date of publication.
Even within the Department of Veterans Affairs, salaries vary considerably. As of the date of publication, VA physical therapist positions in Canton, Ohio, paid $61,227 to $85,498 per year while those in Grand Island, Nebraska, paid $55,452 to $82,078.
Experience and Yearly Salary
Pay ranges for physical therapists also vary according to experience. A 2013 survey conducted by Advance Healthcare Network showed that physical therapists with up to six years of experience earned $62,784 per year and those with six to 10 years of experience earned $72,781 per year. Physical therapists with 11 to 15 years of experience earned $77,773 per year.
2016 Salary Information for Physical Therapists
Physical therapists earned a median annual salary of $85,400 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, physical therapists earned a 25th percentile salary of $70,680, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $100,880, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 239,800 people were employed in the U.S. as physical therapists.