How Much Do Physical Therapists Make?

Janice Monti, Ph.D.
Updated April 18, 2023
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The job outlook for physical therapists has never been better. Learn about physical therapist salaries and ways to increase your earnings in this growing profession.
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Are you looking for a healthcare career that makes a difference in people’s lives, helping them recover from disabilities after injuries and illnesses? Becoming a physical therapist (PT) might be an option for you. PTs can expect a promising employment outlook with competitive salaries throughout the decade.

The need for rehabilitative services by the aging population and patients with chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or back or joint pain will continue to drive the demand for PTs. Widespread interest in health and fitness and advancements in sports medicine also contribute to expanding job growth.

Average Salary for Physical Therapists

According to Payscale, as of September 2022 PTs earn close to $40 an hour or an average annual salary of $72,990. Becoming a physical therapist requires a doctoral degree, whereas becoming a physical therapist assistant (PTA) requires an associate degree. PTAs make about $20,000 less a year than PTs. Where you work, your specialty area, and years of experience will impact your earning potential as a physical therapist.

The average physical therapy salary ranks slightly higher than comparable occupations. For example, occupational therapists report average annual earnings of $67,860 and speech-language pathologists make $63,610 a year.

Average Annual Salary
Source:Payscale, September 2022

Average Hourly Wage
Source:Payscale, September 2022

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The Highest-Paying States for Physical Therapists

PTs can make much higher incomes than the average annual salary of $72,990 depending on where they work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top five-paying states for PTs offer salaries ranging from $99,530-$104,210.

States with large elderly or chronically ill populations typically offer better compensation. PTs working in states with higher-than-average cost of living may also expect to earn more to compensate for living expenses.

PTs employed in urban areas tend to make more than those in smaller cities or rural communities. However, the pressing need for PTs in underserved rural areas has led to more competitive salaries.

The states with the highest annual pay for physical therapists for:

Highest-Paying States
StateAverage Salary
New Jersey$99,530

Source:U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Kind of Salary Growth Can Physical Therapists Expect?

How much you earn as a PT can vary significantly based on practice setting, location, and clinical focus. PTs with 10 or more years of on-the-job experience earn much higher salaries than those in the early stages of their careers.

Certifications in high-demand clinical specialties like sports or geriatrics may lead to more employment opportunities and higher compensation.

Career Salary Potential
0-4 Years Experience10-19 Years Experience20+ Years Experience


4 Ways to Increase Pay As a Physical Therapist

Like many healthcare professions, PTs often begin their careers owing a substantial amount of student loans. Besides the standard compensation packages offered by physical therapy agencies, hospitals, and nursing homes, PTs may want to pursue other paths to make more money.

PTs can increase their earning potential by working in telehealth and home healthcare services, blogging, and picking up extra shifts.

  1. 1

    Provide telehealth services.

    Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to maintain social distancing has spurred the growth of remote telehealth services. Telehealth-delivered physical therapy expands access to services for patients who cannot meet in person. PTs can increase their income by setting up their own telehealth practices or joining existing telehealth physical therapy agencies.

  2. 2

    Start a blog focused on physical therapy.

    PTs with a flair for writing can use their expertise to start a blog about the benefits of physical therapy and other rehabilitation-related issues. While blogs do not typically generate a lot of income, they can provide you with passive income through selling advertising for health-related products and digital services.

  3. 3

    Pick up extra physical therapist shifts.

    You can pick up additional shifts with your own employer or other PT providers, often earning a higher pay rate for evening, weekend, or overtime hours. You might consider becoming a PRN physical therapist. PRN refers to the Latin term “pre re nata,” which means “as needed.” A PRN physical therapist remains on call with hospitals, clinics, and physical therapy agencies.

  4. 4

    Offer home therapy services.

    According to the BLS, home healthcare services rank among the top-paying industries for PTs. Many healthcare agencies hire PTs to offer on-demand physical therapy services appropriate to a patient’s specific needs. Home health PTs often work with patients recovering from surgery or coping with acute or chronic illnesses that result in their inability to leave the home for services.

Frequently Asked Questions About Physical Therapist Salaries

question-mark-circleWhat types of things affect your salary as a physical therapist?

Many factors impact physical therapy salary levels in addition to location, practice settings, and years of experience. PTs can boost their incomes working with underserved populations or taking on extra shifts. PTs employed in skilled nursing facilities often deal with challenging working conditions, but they typically make considerably higher salaries than those working in hospitals, outpatient clinics, and physical therapy agencies.

question-mark-circleIn what setting do physical therapists make the most money?

According to the BLS, the top-paying work settings for PTs include skilled nursing facilities, home healthcare, and outpatient care centers. The average income for PTs employed in home healthcare tops $105,000 a year.

Travel physical therapists with short-term contracts can also expect to make higher salaries than those employed in conventional settings.

question-mark-circleWhere do the highest-paid physical therapists work?

Nevada, California, Connecticut, Delaware, and New Jersey offer average annual salaries above $99,000.

question-mark-circleWhat is the difference between a PT and a DPT?

Currently, both terms refer to physical therapists. The doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree is now recognized as the entry-level requirement for licensed PTs throughout the U.S., although licensed PTs who entered the field before 2020 with professional bachelor’s and master’s degrees may continue to practice.

Page last reviewed September 14, 2022

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