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How Much Do Physical Therapists Make a Year?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Physical therapists treat patients who have difficulty with movement or who cannot perform functional activities necessary to everyday life. In concert with doctors and other health professionals, they develop exercises and treatment techniques to reduce pain and improve mobility. As of May 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts physical therapy jobs to increase by 30 percent as an increasing elderly population demands more services.


You'll need a college degree to enter a physical therapy program approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education. In 2009, only 12 programs awarded master’s degrees. The other 200 granted doctoral degrees. All states require licenses, which includes passing the national Physical Therapy Examination and fulfilling other state requirements such as jurisprudence exams. A physical therapist can earn a median compensation of $74,480 yearly with a range of $52,170 to $105,900, according to the BLS.


Additional training can increase salaries for physical therapists. According to The PayScale Report as of November 2010, the highest-paying skill is home health care, which allows work with the most severely disabled patients at their homes. Wages with this skill range from to $63,351 to $79,761. Another high-paying specialty is geriatrics, with compensation at$60,058 to $76,911. This is especially useful for managing conditions shown by the growing elderly population. (REFERENCE 3)


PayScale also shows the importance of experience for the profession. New physical therapists earn $51,132 to $61,368. Those with five to nine years of experience make $59,706 to $73,448. Finally, those with 20 or more years under their belts receive $65,341 to $81,448.


The type of employer can affect both earnings and the number of job opportunities. The BLS reports that the offices of health practitioners, which include physical therapists, have the most jobs, with 35 percent of the total 174,490. Because of the large supply of professionals, salaries here average $75,760. The highest pay is available in management, scientific and technical consulting services at $88,260.