Working as a Physical Therapist can be a lucrative and rewarding experience. In the modern economy, there aren’t many jobs where you get to improve the quality of people’s lives while working with your hands and leaving them with lasting practices that drastically impact them. Physical therapists work in hospitals, private practices, clinics, in people’s homes, nursing homes, and many other places.
The five main types of Physical Therapy include Orthopedic (working with joints, tendons, ligaments and bones), Geriatric (working with people as they grow older), Neurological (brain injuries, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke and more), Cardiopulmonary (working with people who’ve suffered heart attacks, COPD and pulmonary fibrosis) and Pediatric (working with children). More on this below.
You’ll spend your days healing people, and you’ll be supremely compensated for it. There’s a large demand for Physical Therapists, and it’s expected to continue as Boomers get older, and we learn more and more about the human body and develop new techniques to rehabilitate it and fend off its decline. Because of this, a good Physical Therapist can ply their trade across the country and the world. However, it is clear that you can’t live on the lives you’ve improved, no matter how rewarding it feels.
So how much does a physical therapist make? Where are the best physical therapy jobs? The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 25% growth in Physical Therapist jobs between 2016 and 2026, which is must faster than average. That translates to 60,000 new jobs, on top of the estimated 239,800 in 2016. BLS also found that in 2016, the median pay for Physical Therapists was $85,400 annually, or $41.06 per hour, which is not too shabby.
However, there are better places to live than others (for many reasons), so in this guide, we’ll take a look at the average salaries for physical therapists across the country, state licensing, top graduate programs and look at the different fields people can work in within Physical Therapy.
Here’s a look at cities associated with higher pay in physical therapy according to PayScale:
Best Places To Work As A Physical Therapist
Los Angeles, California
San Diego, California
New York, New York
U.S. News and World Report Best Graduate Physical Therapy Program
The University of Delaware, University of Pittsburgh, University of Southern California and Washington University in St. Louis all tied for first in the 2016 USNR rankings. The top ten was rounded out by Emory University, Northwestern University, University of Iowa, MGH Institute of Health Professions, U.S. Army-Baylor University and Duke University.
Five Types of Physical Therapy Work
As previously discussed, here are the five major kinds of physical therapist work explained further:
Orthopedic Physical Therapists worry about the function of muscles, bones, ligaments, and joints. If you’ve hurt yourself playing sports or exercising, you’ve probably needed one of these people in your life. Orthopedic Physical Therapists use stretching, strength training, stamina exercise, hot and cold compresses, ultrasound, electrical muscle stimulation and much more to help patients.
Geriatric Physical Therapists deal with a number of physical, neurological and degenerative conditions in older people. They aim to help their clients mobility, minimize their pain and help them figure out ways to build strength while understanding and accepting limitations.
Neurological Physical Therapists are specifically worried about brain function and its resulting effects. They work on building autonomous living skills and focus on facilitating adaptation to visual, mobility, balance and muscle losses.
Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapists look to improve endurance and functional independence for people suffering from heart attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other similar problems.
Pediatric Physical Therapists work with infants, toddlers, children, and teens. They utilize early detection of problems that limit children’s movement and learning and look to fix, alleviate or lessen them.