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Physical Therapy Career

Physical Therapists - Employment and earnings


Physical therapists hold about 155,000 jobs.

The number of jobs is greater than the number of practicing physical therapists, because some physical therapists hold two or more jobs. For example, some may work in a private practice, but also work part time in another health care facility.

Nearly 6 out of 10 physical therapists work in hospitals or in offices of physical therapists. Other jobs are in home health care services, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, and offices of physicians.

Some physical therapists are self-employed in private practices, seeing individual patients and contracting to provide services in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing care facilities, home health care agencies, adult day care programs, and schools. Physical therapists also teach in academic institutions and conduct research.

Future Outlook

Employment of physical therapists is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2014. The impact of proposed Federal legislation imposing limits on reimbursement for therapy services may adversely affect the short-term job outlook for physical therapists. However, over the long run, the demand for physical therapists should continue to rise as growth in the number of individuals with disabilities or limited function spurs demand for therapy services.

Job opportunities should be particularly good in acute hospital, rehabilitation, and orthopedic settings, because the elderly receive the most treatment in these settings. The growing elderly population is particularly vulnerable to chronic and debilitating conditions that require therapeutic services. Also, the baby-boom generation is entering the prime age for heart attacks and strokes, increasing the demand for cardiac and physical rehabilitation. Further, young people will need physical therapy as technological advances save the lives of a larger proportion of newborns with severe birth defects.

Future medical developments also should permit a higher percentage of trauma victims to survive, creating additional demand for rehabilitative care. In addition, growth may result from advances in medical technology that could permit the treatment of more disabling conditions.

Widespread interest in health promotion also should increase demand for physical therapy services. A growing number of employers are using physical therapists to evaluate worksites, develop exercise programs, and teach safe work habits to employees in the hope of reducing injuries in the workplace.

Earnings of Physical Therapists

Median annual earnings of physical therapists are $60,180. The middle 50 percent earn between $50,330 and $71,760. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $42,010, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $88,580. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of physical therapists are:

  • Home health care services $64,650
  • Nursing care facilities $61,720
  • Offices of physicians $61,270
  • General medical and surgical hospitals $60,350
  • Offices of other health practitioners $60,130


Information for Physical Therapists

Information for Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides

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