You can earn over $53.21 per hour as a physical therapist if you are among the top 10 percent in earnings, according to May 2011 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But you better have the necessary compassion, attention for detail and physical stamina required of this profession. Your duties would include assessing patients' injuries or ailments and then designing therapeutic and exercise programs for them.
Average Hourly Wages & Benefits
Your average hourly earnings as a physical therapist would be $38.38, according to the BLS. This equates to $79,830 per year, which is just under the $80,000 salary the American Physical Therapy Association reports. Your hourly rate would likely fall in the $31.66 to $44.14 range, which is what the middle half earned. If you are among the lowest 10 percent, you'd make less than $26.30. Expect to receive typical benefits like medical insurance, paid vacations and a retirement plan as a physical therapist.
Hourly Wages by Industry
You would earn the highest hourly rates working for a management or technical consulting firm, helping workers to cope with repetitive stress and other injuries. They earned $43.76 per hour, according to the BLS. Your task would be to get workers rehabilitated so they can return to work. If you like working with older folks, you'd make about $40.01 as a nursing home employee. Your earnings would be closer to the national average working in general or surgical hospitals at $37.84 per hour. And, expect to make $37.56 per hour in the offices of health practitioners, where 37 percent of all physical therapists work -- the largest industry for this field.
Hourly Wages by State
You would earn the highest hourly rate of $47.03 in Nevada, according to the BLS. Take some extra change along if you like to play the slots. If you like Texas barbecues, the $43.51 you would make there may also have you two-stepping at home. Your would also make a relatively high wage in California at $41.78 per hour. And, your hourly earnings would be about average in Connecticut at $38.70.
Education & Training
Take a deep breath, because your path to becoming a physical therapist can be long and arduous. You need a bachelor's degree to start. Your next two to three years would be spent earning either a master's or doctorate of physical therapy, according to the BLS. More medical facilities are demanding the latter. Subsequently, you would spend nine months to three years as a resident, working under a trained physical therapist. And, prior to the residency, you would need to pass a state-sponsored exam for your license.
You've picked a promising career. Jobs for physical therapists are expected to increase 39 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS. This rate of growth is much faster than the national average of 14 percent. Most job growth will be spurred by an aging population, as they generally suffer more pain and physical ailments. Trauma victims and infants with birth defects are also living longer and needing your caring services.
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.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Physical Therapists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Physical Therapists
- U.S. News & World Report: University Directory: Physical Therapists Job Description, Training, Salary Information and Career Video
- StateUniversity.com: Physical Therapist Job Description, Career as a Physical Therapist, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job
- CareerPlanner.com: Physical Therapist
- American Physical Therapy Association: Who Are Physical Therapists?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Physical Therapists
- Career Trend: Physical Therapists