How Much Do Physical Therapists Make on Average (Salary)

How much do physical therapists make? A physical therapist is a health care professional who diagnoses and treats persons of all ages who have injuries, medical issues, or other health-related disorders that restrict their ability to function and move normally in their everyday life. Physical therapists create a rehabilitation plan tailored to each patient's requirements and administer treatment and therapy to help them move better and manage pain. They are frequently a crucial component of a person's rehabilitation and treatment plan.

how much do physical therapists make

What is a physical therapist?

Physical therapists are active in programs that promote health, wellness, and fitness, as well as taking on leadership positions in prevention, health maintenance, and rehabilitation. They can treat arthritis, back and neck pain, joint injuries, cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, balance issues, cystic fibrosis, muscle strains, osteoporosis, sports injuries, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, birth defects, Parkinson's disease, post-operative rehabilitation, fractures, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more with their specialized training.

What does a physical therapist do?

Physical therapists commonly perform the following tasks:

  • Diagnose patients' dysfunctional motions, among other things, by watching them stand or walk and listening to their complaints.
  • Create a strategy for their patients that outlines the patient's objectives and treatment options.
  • Exercises, stretching techniques, hands-on treatment, and equipment can all be used to help patients feel better and move more freely.
  • Evaluate a patient's progress, making necessary changes to the treatment plan and attempting new therapies.
  • Educate patients and their families on what to expect throughout the healing process from accident or sickness, as well as how to cope with the situation.

Physical therapists help patients of all ages who are suffering from back and neck injuries, sprains, strains, and fractures; arthritis; amputations; stroke; birth disorders including cerebral palsy; job and sports-related injuries; and other conditions. They are taught how to care for their patients using a range of approaches, which are referred to as modalities. The use of heat and cold, hands-on stimulation or massage, and assistive and adapted devices and equipment are all examples of these approaches.

Physical therapists' jobs vary depending on the patients they see. A patient suffering from Parkinson's disease, for example, requires different treatment than an athlete recovering from an accident. Some physical therapists specialize in a specific area of services, such as pediatrics or sports physical therapy.

They supervise the work of physical therapist assistants and aides and confer with doctors, surgeons, and other experts as part of a healthcare team. They also seek to prevent mobility loss by establishing fitness and wellness programs that encourage people to live healthier and more active lifestyles.

In the discipline of physical therapy, there are five sub-specialties. Physical therapists can specialize in one of the following areas:

Orthopedic Physical Therapists

Orthopedic physical therapists specialize in restoring function to the musculoskeletal system, which includes many sports injuries. Stretching, strength training, endurance exercises, hot and cold packs, ultrasound, electrical muscle stimulation, and joint mobilization are used to treat joints, tendons, ligaments, and bones.

how much do physical therapists make

Tendonitis, arthritis, ligament tears, sprains, joint stiffness, joint pain, strains, muscle tears, joint inflammation, muscle inflammation, tendon inflammation, post-fracture injury, rotator cuff repair, ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) reconstruction, and post-arthroscopic and total joint replacement surgeries are all conditions that can be treated by orthopedic physical therapists.

Geriatric Physical Therapists

Geriatric physical therapists work with senior citizens to help them minimize pain, improve balance, enhance fitness and strength, regain mobility, boost confidence, and stay active. Arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis, incontinence, Alzheimer's illness, hip, and joint replacement, and balance problems are among the diseases they address.

Geriatric physical therapists strive to assist their elderly patients to regain as much mobility as possible while remaining cognizant of and adapting any physical restrictions. This form of therapy aids in the continued strength, independence, and productivity of older individuals. Physical therapy can also assist older individuals to prevent falls, since falling is one of the most common hazards they encounter, leading to hip fractures and replacements, which can lead to a negative health cycle.

Neurological Physical Therapists

Alzheimer's disease, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, brain damage, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury, and stroke are among the neurological diseases and impairments that neurological physical therapists aid and treatment.

how much do physical therapists make

The nervous system is a sophisticated and intricate mechanism that regulates all of the body's functions. If a component of the nervous system malfunctions, a person may have difficulty moving, breathing, speaking, eating, or learning, as well as memory and sensory problems.

Physical therapy assists patients who have had or are currently suffering from neurological illnesses or accidents in regaining function so that they can live as independently as possible. The neurological physical therapist customizes each patient's therapy plan to target particular problem areas. These individuals may be unable to do some activities, lose many of their functions, and eventually lose their independence owing to decreasing activity if they do not receive physical therapy. This can lead to additional health concerns including diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease.

Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapists

Heart attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pulmonary fibrosis are among illnesses that cardiopulmonary physical therapists treat people with. The objective is to enhance general health, endurance, functional independence, and minimize the risk of cardiovascular events in the future.

how much do physical therapists make

After a catastrophic cardiac incident, cardiovascular rehabilitation focuses on a patient's mental and emotional well-being. Patients should be mobilized as soon as they are clinically stable, which is usually within 24-48 hours following the event. Cardiac rehabilitation is divided into various stages or phases. A cardiopulmonary physical therapist, for example, can assist a patient in progressing through the following steps: sitting on the edge of the bed; light activity (such as sitting, standing, or walking) in the room; walking up and down the hospital hallways; measuring the amount of effort required to do an activity using the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale (should be 13 or less); keeping the limbs straight; and keeping the limbs straight.

Pulmonary rehabilitation helps patients with pulmonary diseases, most frequently chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), improve their total pulmonary function by increasing awareness of their lungs while doing activities. Breathing tactics, energy-saving measures, relaxation techniques, dietary counseling, psychiatric counseling, exercise training, and group support may all be part of pulmonary rehabilitation. After working with a pulmonary therapist, patients frequently report having greater energy and less shortness of breath.

how much do physical therapists make

Pediatric Physical Therapist

Physical therapists for children and adolescents address musculoskeletal issues and enhance mobility in newborns, toddlers, children, and adolescents with a variety of medical illnesses. This type of therapy was first utilized to treat genetic abnormalities, traumas, birth deformities, muscle illnesses, developmental delays, orthopedic impairments, and limb deficits during the polio pandemic in the 1920s.

Physical therapists for children employ a range of approaches and treatments, including specialized equipment, functional training and exercise, dietary modifications, and medication, all of which are aimed at treating diseases that limit mobility and discomfort. A pediatric physical therapist will examine the exact regions of the body involved in the accident or operation and evaluate what sort of therapy and treatment will be required for a successful recovery process.

A pediatric physical therapist addresses and treats the same underlying disorders that an adult physical therapist would, with the exception of a child's mobility and motions. The development of gross motor abilities in newborns is emphasized, which might include learning to sit up, roll over, crawl, stand, and walk. Improved mobility problems, such as balance or coordination deficiencies, can be the emphasis for young infants. These problems can be alleviated by improving mobility (allowing children to play, jump, and run) and strengthening their core muscles.

how much do physical therapists make

National average physical therapist salary

The average physical therapist pay is higher than the national average. Massachusetts is at the top of the list, followed by Alaska and Nevada in second and third place, respectively. Nevada outperforms the national average by 7.3%, while Massachusetts continues the trend with a $13,053 (14.6%) increase above the national average of $89,349.

Significantly, the Massachusetts physical therapist employment market is highly active, with numerous firms actively hiring for this position.

  • Physical therapists earn an average yearly salary of $78,634.
  • Wages typically start from $54,615 and go up to $113,316 per year.

Geography and income

Salary is also affected by other factors such as geographic location and kind of therapy institution. For example, the average physical therapist income in Nevada, the highest-paying state in the US, is $127,900, while in Montana, the lowest-paying state, the average compensation is $69,590. Physical therapists in the metropolitan regions of Las Vegas, Laredo, and Brownsville, Texas, are among the highest-paid in the field. The city of Vallejo, California, as well as Lake Havasu City, Arizona, pay handsomely.

how much do physical therapists make

Pro tip: In private practice physical therapy, there is a lot of money to be made. Physical therapists in private practice are in high demand and will continue to be so.

Average salary by state

Physical therapist salaries by state:

  • Massachusetts: $102,402 per year.
  • Alaska: $96,677 per year.
  • Nevada: $95,913 per year.
  • Washington: $94,350 per year.
  • New York: $91,763 per year.
  • Maryland: $91,575 per year.
  • Nebraska: $89,821 per year.
  • Kentucky: $89,729 per year.
  • New Hampshire: $88,674
  • Virginia: $88,643 per year.
  • Colorado: $86,725 per year.
  • South Carolina: $86,642 per year.
  • Delaware: $85,676 per year.
  • California: $84,926
  • Hawaii: $83,932 per year.
  • Vermont: $83,508 per year.
  • Oklahoma: $83,482 per year.
  • Wyoming: $82,187 per year.
  • Arkansas: $81,787 per year.
  • Connecticut: $81,398 per year.
  • Illinois: $81,345 per year.
  • Michigan: $81,298 per year.
  • Rhode Island: $80,401 per year.
  • West Virginia: $79,757 per year.
  • Idaho: $79,692 per year.
  • Pennsylvania: $79,371 per year.
  • North Dakota: $79,305 per year.
  • Missouri: $79,161 per year.
  • Maine: $78,952 per year.
  • New Jersey: $78,574 per year.
  • Montana: $78,082 per year.
  • Arizona: $77,279 per year.
  • Texas: $77,086 per year.
  • South Dakota: $76,988 per year.
  • Minnesota: $76,903 per year.
  • Indiana: $76,784 per year.
  • Tennessee: $76,770 per year.
  • Wisconsin: $76,303 per year.
  • Ohio: $76,215 per year.
  • Oregon: $75,767 per year.
  • Utah: $75,326 per year.
  • Kansas: $74,587 per year.
  • Louisiana: $74,582 per year.
  • Georgia: $74,549 per year.
  • North Carolina: $73,833 per year.
  • Iowa: $73,559 per year.
  • Alabama: $72,806 per year.
  • New Mexico: $72,483 per year.
  • Florida: $70,263 per year.
  • Mississippi: $69,869 per year.

Common questions

Questions regarding physical therapist salaries and careers:

What's required to become a physical therapist?

Working as a Physical Therapist entails collaborating with doctors, case managers, and insurance adjusters. Documents and reports on the progress of patients. Physical Therapists may also be responsible for supervising physical therapy assistants, aides, and sports trainers. A Ph.D. in physical therapy is required.

How do I increase my salary?

Reduce the expense of your physical therapy education to enhance the likelihood that your wage will be worth the debt.

What is a physical therapist assistant?

Physical therapist assistants and aides work under the supervision of physical therapists to assist patients in regaining mobility and managing pain following accidents and illnesses.

how much do physical therapists make

Favorite Resources

Our favorite resources are included below.

Job interview resources

Resume and cover letter resources

Job search resources

free interview question and answer full guide

Interview Question and Answer Guide (PDF)

Download our full interview preparation guide. Complete with common interview questions and example answers. Free download. No email required.

Download PDF
author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo,, SparkHire,,, FairyGodBoss,, St. Edwards University, NC State University,, Thrive Global,, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

Fact checked: Our small and dedicated team rigorously evaluates every article, guide, and reference to ensure the information is accurate and factual. Learn more.


Help us by spreading the word