Work Settings, Salary And Job Outlook For Physical Therapists

During the past years, a lot of experts have predicted that the demand for health care services will increase in the coming years. Currently, the healthcare industry has experienced a rising trend in terms of demand for various health services and employment opportunities. Despite the economic downturns experienced by many countries around the world, the demand for healthcare continued to rise making professions in the health and medical industry the most stable and well-paid jobs.

According to experts, one of the biggest factors that contributed to the rising need for healthcare services is the increasing population of aging baby boomers. The advancements and discoveries in medical technologies also increased the rate of survival especially for patients suffering from illnesses, injuries, and inborn or birth defects. When it comes to health services, one of the most sought after today is physical therapy. In this article, we will be discussing the work settings for licensed and aspiring physical therapists, career opportunities, and salary ranges.

What Does A Physical Therapist Do?

What Does A Physical Therapist Do?Physical therapists or more commonly called as PTs usually handle and help patients with disability problems and those suffering from various body pains due to injuries and illnesses. Physical therapists play a very important role in the treatment and rehabilitation of patients suffering from chronic ailments. PTs observe and monitor patients first in order to evaluate their condition and needs by listening to them through one-on-one sessions and by observing their movements.

After evaluating the patient, they can then establish a specific treatment plan that will suit the patient’s condition and needs. Some of the most basic treatments they provide are hands-on therapies, stretching exercises, and other natural treatments using some machines or devices to help ease pain and improve the mobility of patients.

Some people cannot properly differentiate physical therapy from occupational therapy – another popular health care profession seek by patients with disability problems and chronic diseases. Although these two disciplines are somewhat the same in various things, they are quite different in many ways. OT focuses more on problems involving cognitive skills, visual-perceptual skills, sensory-processing deficits, and fine motor skills while PT focuses on problems involving gross motor functioning, range of motion, strength and endurance, and body pain.

Employment Options For Physical Therapy Graduates

Employment Options For Physical Therapy GraduatesOne of the most common work areas for physical therapists is hospitals be it private, government or state hospitals. These institutions hire and need a lot of physical therapists to cater to the increasing population of patients with physical therapy needs especially the elders, children with birth defects, and disabled patients. Other physical therapists are employed in outpatient offices and clinics, or the offices of health practitioners like physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and even orthopedic specialists.

Some licensed physical therapists work in nursing homes and home health services. Those who have gained enough experience and have enough resources prefer to be self-employed and establish their own offices or private practices. Most self-employed physical therapists work through referrals from physicians while others establish contracts with various health organizations and firms.

Most Common Work Environments

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 198,600 jobs held by physical therapists in the country for the year 2010. Most physical therapists are working on a full time schedule while some work part time jobs. It is common for PTs to work in more than one facility or work areas because of the increasing need for physical therapy care and services.

  • Most of the physical therapists – about 37% are working in offices and clinics of health practitioners.
  • 28% work in private, local and state hospitals.
  • 10% from the total number of physical therapists employed in the country are working under the home health care services category.
  • 7% work in nursing homes and residential care facilities providing individual care for patients.
  • About 7% from the total population of physical therapists are self-employed or work in their own private practices and offices.

Salary Ranges In Different Work Settings

 Salary Of Physical TherapistsAccording to BLS report, the medial salary of physical therapists employed in the country is $76,310 annually. The highest 10% earners earn as much as $107,000 or more while the lowest 10% earners earn a starting salary of $53,620 every year. Salary offered for physical therapists working in outpatient clinics ranges from $71,000 to $76,000 annually. For those working in home care services, the average salary received by PTs ranges from $74,000 to $78,000 every year. Physical therapists working in nursing homes and long-term rehabilitation facilities earn higher income ranging from $77,000 to $82,000 every year.

Most licensed physical therapists choose a specialization because this discipline is very broad. Aside from providing specific physical therapy care for a particular condition, physical therapists with specialization and training also get to earn higher income because of their advanced knowledge and skills in a specific area. Experience and position also have great contribution in the salary range of PTs.

According to, physical therapists specializing in orthopedic usually earn higher than the average income earned by general physical therapists. Their salary ranges from $90,000 to $100,000 annually. PTs with high administrative positions in hospitals and private offices also earn very high income ranging from $110,000 to $135,000 every year.

Job Outlook And How Do You Become One?

Just like in other healthcare professions, employment opportunities for physical therapists are projected to increase about 39% from 2010 to 2020. This growth is higher than average compared to other occupations or professions in the health care industry making this profession one of the most popular choices for aspiring health care professionals today.

If you want to take advantage of the increasing need for physical therapists today, one of the most important things you should obtain is a college degree – specifically a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy. Although a bachelor’s degree can qualify a graduate for entry-level jobs, better job opportunities and high-paying physical therapy careers are more available for PTs with license and full registration. To be a licensed PT, you need to complete a graduate degree in physical therapy then apply for the licensure exam for aspiring PTs known as the NPTE or the National Physical Therapy Examination administered by The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.


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