Physical therapy is a large field and the demand for qualified professionals in this field is increasing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that physical therapy jobs will increase by 18% by 2029.
Do you see yourself pursuing any of the physical therapy career paths in the future? The only way to honestly know which physical therapy specialty best fits your career goals is to immerse yourself in the field and you can start when you know the highest-paid physical therapist careers.
You may not realize that you can go beyond the normal highest-paid physical therapist careers and specialize in a specific type of practice.
After meeting the requirements set by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, practicing physical therapists can achieve specialization.
There are numerous physical therapy specialties to choose from, each with its distinct purpose and responsibilities.
If you’re thinking about a career in physical therapy, keep reading to find out about the highest-paid physical therapist careers.
What does Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists examine patients and devise a therapy strategy to improve movement, reduce or eliminate pain, restore function, and prevent disability.
Physical therapists are educated to diagnose and treat movement problems, despite their association with the treatment and recovery phases of patient care.
The following are the primary responsibilities of a physical therapist:
- Examining patients to determine diagnoses, prognoses, and treatment regimens.
- Providing necessary interventions for patient care.
- Examining patients and making essential changes to care plans.
- Making discharge plans and putting them into action.
Furthermore, physical therapists work closely with their patients, treating them with exercise, traction, patient and family education, and other techniques.
What qualifies for the highest paying physical therapy careers?
Physical therapists are in great demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a growth rate of 34 percent, physical therapists rank eighth on the list of fastest-growing occupations between 2014 and 2024.
In 2021, the average salary was $95,620. The lowest 10% earn around $61,930 per year, while the highest 10% earn around $127,110 per year.
Clearly, there is a significant salary difference between low-paying and high-paying physical therapist jobs. So, why is this the case?
The reasons for this depend on these factors.
- Geographical location
- Area of expertise
- Advanced specialty certification
- Thought leadership
Let’s take a quick look at each of them.
#1. Geographical Location
The location significantly impacts potential wages, particularly for the highest-paying physical therapy careers.
Patients in sparsely populated areas are scarce, and so fewer opportunities and lower compensation are available.
PTs are in much higher demand in densely populated locations, particularly those with a big working population and many seniors.
This is owing to the large number of persons who require assistance due to work- or age-related illnesses and injuries.
So, before you decide to hunt for a job in one of the highest-paying states, keep in mind that the cost of living in these areas is substantially greater.
#2. Area of expertise
You should concentrate on your area of expertise. Physical therapy, like all healthcare vocations, is particularly adaptable because it requires a wide range of skills.
The focal areas include specific anatomical and physiological systems, physical activity, patients’ age, and long-term care.
Working at institutions that provide these services can help you become an expert in any of these fields.
So, pay attention, study, and apply what you’ve learned. Being proactive might put you in a position to earn some of the highest-paying physical therapist jobs available.
#3. Advanced Specialty Certification
Pursue an APTA advanced specialty certification to set yourself apart from the crowd and earn a top physical therapist salary.
Being a board-certified specialist has several advantages, including becoming one of the top paid physical therapists and being recognized as one of the distinguished selection of PTs with documented clinical skills.
#4. Thought leadership
The fourth factor that affects your earning potential is thought leadership. Professionals who contribute to trade journals, conferences, and educational activities on a regular basis are thought to be experts in their industry.
This form of visible skill has a substantial monetary value. However, becoming a thought leader does not happen immediately.
It’s a long-term project that demands regular attention.
What are the highest-paid physical therapist careers?
Here are some of the highest-paid physical therapist careers
Pediatric physical therapy may be your specialty if you enjoy working with children. Physical therapists in this field work with children ranging in age from newborns to teenagers.
Being one of the highest-paid physical therapist careers, they work to treat a wide range of disorders and conditions that prevent children from functioning or growing normally.
Developmental delays, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, scoliosis, and brain injuries are all common.
Those who have been injured in sports may be very familiar with this physical therapy specialty. Physical therapists that specialize in sports medicine treat and heal injuries sustained while participating in an athletic activity. This is one of the highest-paid physical therapist careers.
#3. Women’s health
Physical therapists can specialize in women’s health, including specific conditions that women face and the treatment of women at various stages of their lives.
This is one of the highest-paid physical therapist careers. Physical therapists who specialize in this area can treat conditions such as pelvic pain, osteoporosis, and lymphedema and provide prenatal and postnatal care.
As the baby boomer generation ages and develops more age-related conditions, the field of geriatric physical therapy is expanding.
As one of the highest-paid physical therapist careers, this type of physical therapist works with elderly patients to relieve pain caused by arthritis, osteoporosis, and general joint stiffness and soreness.
The goal is to keep these patients as physically active and healthy as possible.
#5. Clinical electrophysiology
Clinical electrophysiology treats patients in two ways: electrotherapy and wound management. Electromyography is used in electrotherapy (EMG).
EMG is a procedure used to assess the health of muscles and nerve cells; it measures the electrical activity in a muscle using electrodes.
Physical therapists can use this information to treat muscle and nerve disorders in patients. This career is one of the highest-paid physical therapist careers.
#6. Cardiovascular and pulmonary
Rated high as one of the highest-paid physical therapist careers, Cardiovascular physical therapy is something to consider if you’re interested in improving your heart health.
Physical therapists provide cardiovascular rehabilitation in this specialty to patients who have had a heart attack, have heart disease, or simply want to improve their overall cardiac health.
Physical therapists in cardiac rehabilitation help patients build endurance through exercise while teaching patients how to reduce stress and manage their conditions.
In addition, cardiac physical therapy can be done in a hospital or an outpatient facility.
Neurological physical therapists treat neurological and spinal conditions. Patients may suffer from various ailments, such as brain or spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, sciatica, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and cerebral palsy.
These conditions can make it difficult for patients to maintain balance, coordination, sensations, and overall movement.
Physical therapists, being very important and as such, this career is one of the highest-paid physical therapist careers, then work with these patients to reduce motor defects and aid in the resumption or improvement of function.
Orthopedic physical therapy is the most popular physical therapy specialty, and it involves treating conditions of the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints.
This specialty’s physical therapists may see a wide range of patients, including those with arthritis, broken bones, joint replacement surgery, or who have recently strained or sprained any muscle or ligament. It is one of the highest-paid physical therapist careers.
Oncology is the study and treatment of various types of cancer. Physical therapists in this specialty work with cancer patients who have been diagnosed or are recovering from the disease.
Cancer can cause various symptoms or conditions that necessitate physical therapy, including pain, muscle weakness, joint stiffness, loss of endurance, difficulty walking, numbness in the feet and hands, and bone density loss.
If you are thinking of pursuing a career in Oncology, you can rest assured that Oncology is one of the highest-paid physical therapist careers.
How can one become one of the highest-paid physical therapists?
There is no one-size-fits-all career path for physical therapists. Indeed, many physical therapists choose to specialize in a single area, which can lead to higher pay and more career opportunities.
After gaining experience in the field, physical therapists can apply to the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) to become board-certified specialists, allowing them to gain special certification in areas such as neurology, orthopedics, oncology, pediatrics, and others.
When you do this, you can be sure to get a good job in any of the highest-paid physical therapist careers.
Also, you can check this: 20 Highest Paying Jobs in Canada in 2022
Which country pays physical therapists the highest amount?
#1. The United States
Salary – $88,880
Physical therapists earn an average annual wage of $88,880, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics for 2018.
Nevada has the highest average annual wage of $107,920. Alaska, New Jersey, New Mexico, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Texas, and Massachusetts are among the highest-paying states.
#2. The United Kingdom
Salary – $76,180
If you work in an NHS hospital, there is a defined career structure where you can advance from physiotherapist to specialist to advanced level.
The NHS has nine pay bands for its employees. Starting salaries for qualified physiotherapists in band 5 range from $24,214 to $30,112 per year. Senior physiotherapists can expect to earn between $30,401 and $37,267 per year (band 6).
Clinical lead physiotherapists are classified as band 8a. They earn around $50,819, whereas consultant physiotherapists are classified as band 8b, earning between $52,306 and $60,983.
With the right skills and experience, those in private practice can earn around $75,000 per year. They have one of the highest-paid physical therapist careers and paying scheme as well.
Salary – $82,200
In Switzerland, physiotherapists can earn around CHF 6,500 per month or CHF78,000 per year.
#4. New Zealand
Salary – $64,000
A New Zealand-based physiotherapist with up to six years of experience typically earns NZ$47,000 – NZ$68,000, while one with more than six years of experience typically earns NZ$68,000 – NZ$99,000.
Salary – $63,400
Based on their years of experience, Norwegian physiotherapists earn between NOK 18,000 and 50,000 per month.
Salary – $63,300
Before they can practice, Australian physiotherapists must complete four years of study. Based on years of experience, the average salary is AU$62,600, with salaries ranging from AU$47,700 to AU$85,500.
They may also receive an annual bonus pay of AU$0 – 8,600, profit sharing of up to AU$1,200, and a commission of AU$970 – AU$92,300.
Back In Motion, Healthstrong, and Healthscope Limited are among the highest-paying companies for the highest-paid physical therapist careers.
#7. The Netherlands
Salary – $62,000
Dutch physiotherapists typically start at around €2,000 per month and can earn up to €4,600 per month after gaining several years of experience.
Salary – $59,000
According to the 2012 National Household Survey, there are over 21,000 physiotherapists in Canada.
Most of them earn between CA$50,000 and CA$80,000 per year, but those who run their clinic can make more.
Salary – $58,600
According to the consolidated salary scales report for the health sector, physiotherapists in Ireland start at €35,672 per year and can earn up to €52,059 per year after many years of experience.
Salary – $51,300
The Massage and Physiotherapy Act governs physiotherapy training in Germany. It usually lasts three years, and once completed, the starting salary is usually between €2,100 and €2,700 gross, with the possibility of increasing to €3,800 per month after years of experience.
Read this: Highest Paying Jobs In The Medical Field
Nursing and residential care facilities, followed closely by home healthcare services, are the highest-paying environments for physical therapists, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The median annual wage for physical therapists working in nursing and residential care facilities in 2017 was $92,320, while the median yearly salary for in-home healthcare services was $92,320.
In 2017, the median wage for physical therapists working in the offices of physical, occupational, and speech therapists and audiologists was $82,620.
In reading this, we hope you have made up your mind and decided not just which state but also the highest-paid physical therapist careers that suit you most.