A Doctor of Physical Therapy degree is required for physical therapists. With a 39 percent growth rate projected through 2020, demand for physical therapists is growing at a much faster rate than the 14 percent average growth rate anticipated for all other occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salary for physical therapists is also higher than the national average of $45,790.
Physical therapists -- the vast majority of whom have a doctoral degree -- earned a mean annual wage of $81,110, or a mean annual wage of $38.99, according to May 2012 salary data from the BLS. The top 10 percent of earners made $112,020, while the bottom 10 percent of earners made $55,620.
As a point of comparison with similar professions, audiologists and chiropractors, who also need a doctoral degree, earned annual mean wages of $72,890 and $79,550, respectively, according to May 2012 salary data. Speech language pathologists and occupational therapists, both of whom need a master’s degree, earned $72,730 and $76,400 respectively. Recreational therapists, who need a bachelor’s degree, made $44,280.
Physical therapists earned the highest salary, $90,440, in the home health care industry. The management, scientific and technical consulting services industry was the second highest-paying industry with a mean annual wage of $87,170. The rest of the top-five industries were employment services, child day care services and nursing care facilities, with mean annual wages of $87,030; $86,480 and $85,810, respectively.
Nevada was the top-paying state for physical therapists, with a mean annual wage of $110,670. Alaska was the second highest-paying state with an average salary of $89,950. The next three highest-paying states were New Jersey at $89,830, Texas at $89,790 and California at $89,370.
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.