Physical Therapist Salaries

Updated August 18, 2022

Physical therapist salaries are above average, and the profession remains in high demand. Learn more about this growing and rewarding career.

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Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who help people recover from physical injuries or illnesses. These professionals guide patients through exercises, provide hands-on physical manipulation (such as stretching), and teach them how to regain physical functions. Physical therapists must have a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree, which usually takes three years to complete.

They work in standalone physical therapy offices, hospitals, home healthcare, and nursing homes. Some work for sports teams, dance troupes, or large corporations whose employees perform manual labor. Most work during standard office hours, though some providers offer evening or weekend services.

Most physical therapists have an undergraduate degree in healthcare, recreation and fitness, or even sports or dance. The work can be physically strenuous.

Salary Summary
Median Annual Salary (BLS) Average Base Salary (Payscale)
$95,620 $72,640

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Payscale April 2022

Top 3 States for Physical Therapist Salaries

  1. Nevada - $104,210 annual mean wage
  2. California - $103,510 annual mean wage
  3. Connecticut - $101,180 annual mean wage

Top 3 Cities for Physical Therapist Salaries

  1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan area - $123,190 annual mean wage
  2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metropolitan area - $118,370 annual mean wage
  3. Midland (Texas) metropolitan area - $116,880 annual mean wage

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Frequently Asked Questions


Is a physical therapy career hard?

Physical therapy requires knowledge of anatomy, biomechanics, neuroscience, and pharmacology. The work can be physically demanding, as well. However, it is emotionally rewarding, and physical therapist salaries can reach six figures.

Is physical therapy a good career?

The median physical therapist salary is $95,620, more than twice the median salary for all jobs, according to the BLS. The work is hard, but it can be rewarding to help people recover from illness or injuries.

Are physical therapists in demand?

Physical therapist jobs are projected to grow 21% between 2020 and 2030, much faster than average, according to the BLS. Salaries should remain high to match demand.

What's the difference between a massage therapist and a physical therapist?

While both must be licensed, physical therapy training is much more extensive, as these professionals help people recover physical functions. Physical therapists also hold a doctorate degree.

Massage therapists focus on muscle manipulation to relieve pain and promote relaxation. The median massage therapist salary is $46,910, according to the BLS, less than half the median physical therapist salary.

Skills and Experience to Increase Salary as a Physical Therapist

Advanced clinical education or certifications can increase physical therapist salaries by a significant amount. Specialist certifications typically require passing board certification and completing a designated number of clinical hours (approximately 2,000 hours) in a specialty area, or completing a one-year residency.

Certain certifications have additional qualifications. For example, cardiovascular and pulmonary certification also requires advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) certification from the American Heart Association and a data analysis project or case study. Sports certification requirements include CPR certification and certification or licensing (as appropriate) as an athletic trainer, emergency medical technician, or emergency medical responder.

Some popular certifications associated with higher physical therapist salaries include:

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