Find The Best Physical Therapist Jobs For You

Where do you want to work?

0 selections
Average Salary
$69,890
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
22%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
37,012
Job Openings

Physical Therapist Careers

Being active is the name of the game. At least for Physical Therapists. Since most of their day is spent with helping patients improve movement and manage pain, Physical Therapists spend a lot of their time on their feet.

Typically, you can find them working in private offices and clinics, but some work in hospitals, patients' homes and even nursing homes. If you're excited about helping people get their pain under control, then all you need is a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and a license to practice.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do

Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, help injured or ill people improve their movement and manage their pain. These therapists are often an important part of rehabilitation, treatment, and prevention of patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries.

Duties

Physical therapists typically do the following:

  • Review patients’ medical history and any referrals or notes from doctors, surgeons, or other healthcare workers
  • Diagnose patients’ functions and movements by observing them stand or walk and by listening to their concerns, among other methods
  • Develop individualized plans of care for patients, outlining the patients’ goals and the expected outcomes of the plans
  • Use exercises, stretching maneuvers, hands-on therapy, and equipment to ease patients’ pain, help them increase their mobility, prevent further pain or injury, and facilitate health and wellness
  • Evaluate and record a patient’s progress, modifying a plan of care and trying new treatments as needed
  • Educate patients and their families about what to expect from the recovery process and how best to cope with challenges throughout the process

Physical therapists provide care to people of all ages who have functional problems resulting from back and neck injuries; sprains, strains, and fractures; arthritis; amputations; neurological disorders, such as stroke or cerebral palsy; injuries related to work and sports; and other conditions.

Physical therapists are educated to use a variety of different techniques to care for their patients. These techniques include exercises; training in functional movement, which includes the use of equipment such as canes, crutches, wheelchairs, and walkers; and special movements of joints, muscles, and other soft tissue to improve movement and decrease pain.

The work of physical therapists varies by type of patient. For example, a patient working to recover mobility lost after a stroke needs different care from a patient who is recovering from a sports injury. Some physical therapists specialize in one type of care, such as orthopedics or geriatrics. Many physical therapists also help patients to maintain or improve mobility by developing fitness and wellness programs to encourage healthier and more active lifestyles.

Physical therapists work as part of a healthcare team, overseeing the work of physical therapist assistants and aides and consulting with physicians and surgeons and other specialists.

How To Become a Physical Therapist

Physical therapists need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. All states require physical therapists to be licensed.

Education

In 2015, there were more than 200 programs for physical therapists accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). All programs offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.

DPT programs typically last 3 years. Most programs require a bachelor’s degree for admission as well as specific educational prerequisites, such as classes in anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, and physics. Some programs admit college freshmen into 6- or 7-year programs that allow students to graduate with both a bachelor’s degree and a DPT. Most DPT programs require applicants to apply through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS).

Physical therapist programs often include courses in biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, and pharmacology. Physical therapist students also complete at least 30 weeks of clinical work, during which they gain supervised experience in areas such as acute care and orthopedic care.

Physical therapists may apply to and complete a clinical residency program after graduation. Residencies typically last about 1 year and provide additional training and experience in specialty areas of care. Therapists who have completed a residency program may choose to specialize further by completing a fellowship in an advanced clinical area.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require physical therapists to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state but all include passing the National Physical Therapy Examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Several states also require a law exam and a criminal background check. Continuing education is typically required for physical therapists to keep their license. Check with state boards for specific licensing requirements.

After gaining work experience, some physical therapists choose to become a board-certified specialist. The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties offers certification in 8 clinical specialty areas, including orthopedics, sports, and geriatric physical therapy. Board specialist certification requires passing an exam and at least 2,000 hours of clinical work or completion of an American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)-accredited residency program in the specialty area.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Physical therapists are often drawn to the profession in part by a desire to help people. They work with people who are in pain and must have empathy for their patients.

Detail oriented. Like other healthcare providers, physical therapists should have strong analytic and observational skills to diagnose a patient’s problem, evaluate treatments, and provide safe, effective care.

Dexterity. Physical therapists must use their hands to provide manual therapy and therapeutic exercises. They should feel comfortable massaging and otherwise physically assisting patients.

Interpersonal skills. Because physical therapists spend a lot of time interacting with patients, they should enjoy working with people. They must be able to clearly explain treatment programs, motivate patients, and listen to patients’ concerns to provide effective therapy.

Physical stamina. Physical therapists spend much of their time on their feet, moving as they demonstrate proper techniques and help patients perform exercises. They should enjoy physical activity.

Resourcefulness. Physical therapists customize treatment plans for patients. They must be flexible and able to adapt plans of care to meet the needs of each patient.

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the right jobs to get there.

Average Salary
$69,890
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
22%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
37,012
Job Openings

Physical Therapist Career Paths

Top Careers Before Physical Therapist

Top Careers After Physical Therapist

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Physical Therapist

Physical Therapists in America make an average salary of $69,890 per year or $34 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $83,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $58,000 per year.
Average Salary
$69,890

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
San Francisco, CA
Salary Range85k - 119k$101k$101,231
Arlington, MA
Salary Range67k - 86k$76k$76,238
Wilmington, DE
Salary Range65k - 84k$74k$74,370
Jackson, NJ
Salary Range65k - 83k$74k$73,982
Baltimore, MD
Salary Range64k - 83k$73k$73,086
Carlsbad, NM
Salary Range62k - 85k$73k$72,963
$54k
$119k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Physical Therapist-(Full-Timet)
Physical Therapist-(Full-Timet)
H2Health
H2Health
03/31/2021
03/31/2021
$73,00003/31/2021
$73,000
Physical Therapist
Physical Therapist
Home Health & Hospice of Montana
Home Health & Hospice of Montana
03/30/2021
03/30/2021
$75,13203/30/2021
$75,132
Physical Therapist-(Full-Timet)
Physical Therapist-(Full-Timet)
Jtpostmaster
Jtpostmaster
03/30/2021
03/30/2021
$73,00003/30/2021
$73,000
Physical Therapist-Esep/Mp
Physical Therapist-Esep/Mp
Indian Health Service
Indian Health Service
03/29/2021
03/29/2021
$53,43303/29/2021
$53,433
Physical Therapist-Esep/Mp
Physical Therapist-Esep/Mp
Indian Health Service
Indian Health Service
03/29/2021
03/29/2021
$53,43303/29/2021
$53,433
See More Recent Salaries

Calculate your salary

Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to see how your pay matches up.

Physical Therapist Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Physical Therapist. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Physical Therapist Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Physical Therapist resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

Physical Therapist Demographics

Gender

female

59.6 %

male

36.0 %

unknown

4.4 %

Ethnicity

White

73.3 %

Asian

15.3 %

Hispanic or Latino

6.2 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

47.9 %

Hindi

8.3 %

Gujarati

4.5 %
See More Demographics

Physical Therapist Education

Majors

Biology
5.0 %

Degrees

Bachelors

54.2 %

Doctorate

16.9 %

Masters

13.4 %

Top Colleges for Physical Therapists

1. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

2. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA • Public

In-State Tuition
$12,424
Enrollment
15,201

3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Public

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

4. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

5. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

6. Tufts University

Medford, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,382
Enrollment
5,597

7. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL • Public

In-State Tuition
$6,381
Enrollment
34,564

8. Washington University in St Louis

Saint Louis, MO • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,399
Enrollment
7,356

9. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

10. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$6,798
Enrollment
31,503
See More Education Info
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Physical Therapist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 17.8% of physical therapists listed rehab on their resume, but soft skills such as compassion and detail oriented are important as well.

Best States For a Physical Therapist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a physical therapist. The best states for people in this position are California, Alaska, Nevada, and Washington. Physical therapists make the most in California with an average salary of $96,796. Whereas in Alaska and Nevada, they would average $90,530 and $82,060, respectively. While physical therapists would only make an average of $78,290 in Washington, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Alaska

Total Physical Therapist Jobs:
118
Highest 10% Earn:
$116,000
Location Quotient:
1.01
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. California

Total Physical Therapist Jobs:
4,108
Highest 10% Earn:
$132,000
Location Quotient:
1.01
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Washington

Total Physical Therapist Jobs:
1,143
Highest 10% Earn:
$106,000
Location Quotient:
1.12
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
View Full List

How Do Physical Therapist Rate Their Jobs?

Working as a Physical Therapist? Share your experience anonymously.
Rate
Do you work as a Physical Therapist?
Rate how you like work as Physical Therapist. It's anonymous and will only take a minute.
Rate

Top Physical Therapist Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ physical therapists and discovered their number of physical therapist opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Avant Healthcare Professionals was the best, especially with an average salary of $72,365. Health Carousel follows up with an average salary of $71,782, and then comes Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute with an average of $73,882. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a physical therapist. The employers include SSM Health, Emory University, and Veterans Affairs Dept

1. Avant Healthcare Professionals
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$72,365
Physical Therapists Hired: 
1,236+
2. Health Carousel
3.4
Avg. Salary: 
$71,782
Physical Therapists Hired: 
862+
3. Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute
3.7
Avg. Salary: 
$73,882
Physical Therapists Hired: 
644+
4. Community Services Group
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$71,799
Physical Therapists Hired: 
475+
5. Tender Touch Rehab
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$73,567
Physical Therapists Hired: 
333+
6. Encore Rehabilitation Services
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$73,827
Physical Therapists Hired: 
274+

Physical Therapist Videos

Updated October 2, 2020