Physical Therapist Jobs and Salaries

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Physical Therapist Jobs and Salaries
Physical therapists evaluate and diagnose people's mobility problems. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Physical therapists evaluate and diagnose movement or mobility problems in people, then help them recover from their illnesses or injuries. Many physical therapists work with individuals who have disabilities such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and spina bifida. They also help people get back to work by reducing the swelling of their joints and instructing them on various exercises. Physical therapists can either be paid by the hour or with annual salaries.

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Education and Requirements

Physical therapists are required to obtain certification from the Commission on Accreditation of Physiotherapy Education. Accredited programs usually offer either master's degrees, which take two to 2 1/2 years to complete, or doctorate degrees, which generally take three years. Physical therapists usually take a lot of science courses as part of their curricula, including physiology, anatomy, biology and pathology. Upon graduation, these professionals must pass their state's National Physical Therapy Examination to get licenses. Physical therapists must have excellent interpersonal and communication skills. They must also be caring individuals who enjoy helping people get well.

Median Annual Salary

According to a 2009 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for physical therapists across the country was £48,412. The middle half of all these professionals, from the 25th to the 75th percentile, earned incomes between £40,475 and £57,161 per year. The top 10 per cent earned salaries in excess of £68,835 per year.

Average Salary by Employer Type

Salaries for physical therapists vary considerably depending on the type of employer. As of April 2001, those who are self-employed tend to earn the highest annual salaries, between £39,163 to £53,656 on average, according to salary survey website PayScale. The salary ranges reported by PayScale are for the 25th to 75th percentile of respondents to their surveys. Physical therapists working for the federal government reported salaries between £39,107 and £51,927 per year, and those working for hospitals earned salaries between £34,677 and £43,541 per year.

Average Salary by Metropolitan Area

Physical therapists earned the highest annual salaries in the Jackson, Michigan, metropolitan area, at a mean of £94,074 per year, according to the 2009 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They earned their second highest salaries in the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, area, with a mean of £72,663 per year. Those in the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, California, area earned £62,075, and the mean salary was £61,990 in El Paso, Texas.

Job Outlook

The number of jobs for physical therapists is expected to grow 30 per cent between 2008 and 2018, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is considered much faster than average compared to other professions. The growing elderly population will drive the demand for jobs in this profession.

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