As of 2021, the average salary of a physical therapist is estimated to be $95,620, with an hourly wage of $45.97, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, this level of pay is not standard across all 50 states for physical therapists. There are several states whose residents makeup to $10,000 less annually on average than those in other states. Your income as a physical therapist will be affected in a variety of ways by your location.
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Physical Therapist Job Duties
The average salary of a physical therapist depends on how well they perform their varied duties. The goal of physical therapy is to assist people to improve their quality of life by maximizing their mobility. This is accomplished through the practice of physical therapy. A physical therapist has usually earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.
While there are actually several different types of jobs in the field of physical therapy, such as physical therapist assistant and physical therapy aide, a physical therapist is someone who has earned this type of degree. Even though they may have Doctorate degrees, the vast majority of physical therapists do not work in hospitals, but rather in outpatient clinics and offices, schools, rehabilitation facilities, nursing facilities, and a number of other settings instead.
Physical therapists do examinations on patients and devise treatment plans consisting of various procedures designed to enhance movement, lessen or do away with pain, restore function, and prevent impairment. Although they are most commonly identified with the treatment and recovery phase of patient care, physical therapists have the education and training to both diagnose and treat a variety of movement-related issues.
The following are some of the primary responsibilities of a physical therapist:
- Conducting patient examinations in order to determine diagnoses, prognoses, and treatment regimens
- Providing the necessary interventions for the treatment of the patient.
- Patients are being reevaluated, and their care regimens are being adjusted accordingly.
- Developing and implementing discharge strategies.
- patient and family education, exercise, traction and other therapy modalities are some of the ways that physical therapists collaborate closely with their patients to deliver effective care. The greatest level of education required for any of the jobs related to physical therapy is normally three years of postgraduate study.
Physical Therapist Requirements
Despite the fact that physical therapists (PT), physical therapist assistants (PTA), and physical therapist aides all have different roles, necessary education levels, and salaries, there are several requirements that are shared among all three of these positions, so the average salary of a physical therapist depends initially on the following factors:
1. Fundamental, General Workplace Abilities
Some of the fundamental abilities required of physical therapists are the following:
Active listening is necessary for physical therapists, assistants, and aides in order to collect information from patients while also ensuring that patients have the opportunity to feel as though they are seen and heard.
Critical thinking: Patients may have complicated symptoms or unpredictably adverse reactions to treatment, and physical therapists are required to search for patterns and processes in order to diagnose and treat patients successfully.
As physical therapists lead patients through the healing process, having a positive “bedside manner” that demonstrates empathy and compassion is vital.
Fitness is essential for a profession in physical therapy because you will likely spend the most of your working day on your feet. It’s possible that you’ll need to assist patients by providing support while they move, lift, or operate medical equipment.
Some of the abilities required for physical therapy are applicable in different settings, including the following:
- Instruction regarding health care given.
- Developing and putting into action plans for treatments.
- Operating medical equipment.
- utilizing mobile devices such as tablets, laptops, and other gadgets.
- Maintaining compliance with HIPAA and other privacy standards governing health care.
2. A Degree Obtained From a Program That Has Been Accredited By CAPTE
The body known as The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) is responsible for ensuring that educational programs in physical therapy across the country are of a high enough standard. But how many years of schooling is required to become a physical therapist? There is considerable variance from program to program, but the majority of CAPTE-accredited Doctor of Physical Therapy graduate programs last for three years and require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.
Those who have earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree have the opportunity to enhance their study by participating in optional residencies and fellowships. Additionally, physical therapists have the option to pursue speciality certification. Another body known as the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, enables you to become certified in areas such as geriatrics, orthopedics, pediatrics, and a variety of other subspecialties.
To work as a physical therapy assistant, you need to get an associate’s degree from a physical therapy education program that has been approved by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). A physical therapy assistant does not need a certain amount of schooling or a license to work in the field, but they should have the fundamental and transferrable skills that were outlined before.
3. A license to practice physical therapy in your state
Every graduate of a physical therapy program is required to take and pass an exam known as the NPTE or National Physical Therapy Examination in order to be eligible for a license or certification in the state they wish to practice. There are licensing requirements for physical therapists and physical therapy assistants in all 50 of the United States, as well as in Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands of the United States.
You are required to obtain a state license in order to practice physical therapy in that state since licensure is managed on a state-by-state basis by regulatory boards that are specific to each individual state. Specific conditions for obtaining a license are specified by the physical therapy practice legislation of each individual state. However, a minimum score of 600 on the NPTE is required for all of them. A specialized certification is not necessary to work as a physical therapy assistant.
Future Job Outlook
The average salary of a physical therapist depends on future job prospects, and future prospects for a physical therapist are very good. The number of people employed as physical therapists is anticipated to increase by 21% from 2020-2030, which is usually much faster than the average growth projection for all occupations.
During the next ten years, it is anticipated that there will be a total of around 15,600 vacant positions for physical therapists. It is estimate that a significant number of these openings will be caused by the requirement to replace workers who laterally moved into alternative occupations or leave the labor force for reasons such as retirement.
The vast population of aging baby boomers, who are keeping themselves active later in life in comparison to their contemporaries from earlier generations, will contribute in part to the increase in demand for physical therapy. It is more likely for elderly adults to suffer from mobility-related injuries, heart attacks, and other conditions that require physical therapy as part of the recovery process.
In recent years, there has been an increase in the prevalence of a number of chronic illnesses, including diabetes and obesity, among the general population. To assist these patients in maintaining their mobility and better managing the impacts of their chronic diseases, an increased number of physical therapists will be required.
Outpatient surgery is becoming increasingly common as a result of developments in medical technology, which has made it possible to mitigate a wider range of injuries and illnesses without the need for hospitalization. In addition, improvements in medicine and technology are anticipated to make it possible for a greater number of trauma victims and newborns with birth defects to survive, which is predicted to result in an increase in the demand for rehabilitation services.
After their operations, these patients will continue to get assistance from physical therapists. All the above factors will continue to contribute the rise in the average salary of a physical therapist.