Physical Therapist Salary Guide

Physical Therapist Salary Guide

In the dynamic field of healthcare, physical therapists play a crucial role in restoring and enhancing the mobility of individuals. As dedicated professionals, their expertise comes at a cost, and understanding the financial landscape is essential for both aspiring and seasoned physical therapists. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the nuances of physical therapist salaries in the United States, exploring factors such as location, specialization, and experience that influence compensation.

How Much Are Physical Therapists Paid in the United States?

The compensation for physical therapists in the United States can vary significantly based on several factors. According to recent data, the median annual wage for physical therapists in the United States is $$96,695. However, this figure is just a starting point, and various elements contribute to the wide range of salaries observed across the country.

One of the primary factors influencing salary is the geographical location of the physical therapist. Salaries tend to be higher in metropolitan areas where the cost of living is elevated. For example, physical therapists practicing in cities like San Francisco, New York, and Seattle often command higher salaries compared to their counterparts in less urbanized regions.

Best Paying Cities and States in the United States for Physical Therapists

To maximize earning potential, physical therapists may consider relocating to cities where demand for their services is high, and the cost of living is reflected in their salaries. As of the latest data, some of the best paying cities for physical therapists include:

  • San Francisco, California: With its high cost of living, San Francisco leads the nation in offering competitive salaries for physical therapists. The average annual wage in this city is significantly above the national median.
  • New York, New York: The bustling metropolis of New York provides ample opportunities for physical therapists, offering salaries that match the city’s vibrancy. Physical therapists in New York enjoy a higher earning potential compared to the national average.
  • Seattle, Washington: Known for its progressive healthcare landscape, Seattle is another city where physical therapists can secure lucrative compensation packages. The demand for healthcare professionals in the Pacific Northwest contributes to higher salaries in this region.

To zoom out a little, here are the best compensating states for PTs. All the figures have been drawn from Ziprecruiter:

State Average Annual Compensation
Alaska $113,000
Massachusetts $111,394
Washington $107,187
Nevada $106,841
Colorado $105,047
New York $99,050
Delaware $98,644
Illinois $97,331
Virginia $97,174
Vermont $96,767
Maryland $95,523
Nebraska $93,453
Missouri $92,955
California $92,262
South Carolina $92,169
Oregon $92,141
North Dakota $92,139
Pennsylvania $90,737
Oklahoma $90,502
Hawaii $90,437
New Jersey $90,425
North Carolina $90,267
Maine $90,072
Wisconsin $89,518
Idaho $88,286
New Hampshire $88,258
Kentucky $87,941
Texas $87,717
South Dakota $87,082
Michigan $86,954
Wyoming $86,823
Minnesota $86,424
New Mexico $85,978
Indiana $85,650
Rhode Island $85,345
Ohio $84,017
Arizona $83,879
Connecticut $83,248
Arkansas $83,053
Mississippi $82,643
Montana $82,615
Iowa $82,596
Alabama $81,583
Utah $80,253
Tennessee $80,213
Kansas $77,814
Georgia $76,001
Louisiana $75,456
West Virginia $70,077
Florida $67,261

What Are the Best Paying Physical Therapist Roles?

Within the realm of physical therapy, various specializations exist, each with its unique set of challenges and rewards. Some of the best paying physical therapist roles include:

  • Orthopedic Physical Therapists: Specializing in musculoskeletal conditions, orthopedic physical therapists work with patients recovering from injuries, surgeries, or chronic conditions. Due to the complexity of these cases, orthopedic physical therapists often command higher salaries.
  • Sports Physical Therapists: Professionals in this field work with athletes to prevent and treat injuries, aiming to optimize performance. Sports physical therapists may find lucrative opportunities working with professional sports teams or in high-performance training facilities.
  • Neurological Physical Therapists: Specializing in conditions affecting the nervous system, neurological physical therapists work with patients recovering from strokes, spinal cord injuries, and neurological disorders. The specialized expertise required in this field often translates to higher salaries.

Physical Therapist Salary Based on Work Experience

In addition to geographical location and specialization, the experience of a physical therapist significantly impacts their earning potential. As a general guideline, physical therapists with more years of experience tend to command higher salaries. The breakdown of average salaries based on experience is as follows:

  • Entry-Level (0-2 years): Physical therapists in the early stages of their career can expect to earn a median salary slightly below the national average, ranging from $65,000 to $75,000 annually.
  • Mid-Career (2-5 years): With a few years of experience, mid-career physical therapists can see a significant increase in their earning potential, with average salaries ranging from $75,000 to $85,000 annually.
  • Experienced (5-10 years): Physical therapists with five to ten years of experience can command salaries in the range of $85,000 to $100,000 annually, depending on factors such as location and specialization.
  • Advanced Career (10+ years): Seasoned physical therapists with over a decade of experience can see their salaries surpassing the $100,000 mark, especially in high-demand areas and specialized fields.

How to Increase Your Earning Potential as a Physical Therapist?

While understanding the factors influencing physical therapist salaries is crucial, actively taking steps to increase one’s earning potential is equally important. If you want to maximize your career, consider the following:

  • Pursue Specializations: Acquiring specialized certifications and skills within a niche area of physical therapy can make you a sought-after professional, leading to higher-paying opportunities.
  • Geographic Mobility: Consider relocating to cities or regions with a higher demand for physical therapists. Conduct thorough research on cost of living and salary trends in potential locations.
  • Networking and Professional Development: Building a strong professional network and staying updated on industry trends can open doors to higher-paying job opportunities. Attend conferences, workshops, and engage with peers in the field.
  • Negotiation Skills: When exploring job opportunities or contract renewals, hone your negotiation skills to secure a competitive salary. Research industry standards and be prepared to articulate your value as a physical therapist.
  • Pursue Advanced Degrees: Continuing education and pursuing advanced degrees, such as a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), can enhance your expertise and potentially lead to higher-paying positions.


Navigating the landscape of physical therapist salaries in the United States requires a comprehensive understanding of various factors, including geographical location, specialization, and work experience. While the national median salary provides a benchmark, the potential for earning more lies in strategic career choices and continuous professional development.

Physical therapists can unlock their full earning potential by staying informed about industry trends, pursuing specializations, and strategically navigating the job market. By combining expertise with a proactive approach to career development, physical therapists can not only enhance the quality of care they provide but also secure rewarding financial outcomes in their chosen profession.

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