How to Increase Your Income as a Physical Therapist

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A Guide to Earning More As A Physical Therapist

The physical therapy profession is vast, varied, and diverse. Physical therapists work with patients of all ages to diagnose physical injuries, create treatment plans, monitor progress, rehabilitate after injuries, manage chronic conditions, and prevent new injuries from happening. There are also many different environments available for physical therapists to work in, from large hospitals to nursing homes to home healthcare. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know which routes you should take to maximize your earning potential as a physical therapist. Here we present the basics on how to earn more as a physical therapist and get paid what you deserve.

Physical Therapist Career Path Choices That Will Boost Pay

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paying environments for physical therapists to work in are nursing and residential care facilities followed closely by home healthcare services. In 2017, the median annual wage for physical therapists working in nursing and residential care facilities was $92,320, while the median annual wage in home healthcare services was $92,320. Physical therapists working in offices of physical, occupational, and speech therapists, as well as audiologists, saw a much lower median wage in 2017, at $82,620.

Owning your own clinic is also a goal to work towards on your path to higher pay. This could be the right time to open a clinic: data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 28 percent between 2016 and 2026, faster than the average for other occupations. According to the BLS, as the baby boomer generation ages, demand for physical therapists will rise. Because demand for physical therapists is rising, there will be an increased need for clinics, and an increased supply of patients willing to pay for them.

Another field that’s starting to blossom within physical therapy is telehealth. Telehealth, or telemedicine, refers to the practice of delivering medical care remotely through technology. According to industry resource Healthcare Innovation, the global telehealth market, which was valued at $6 billion in 2016, is projected to reach a value of $19.5 billion by 2025. Telehealth can be particularly effective for patients who need follow-up visits, chronic condition management, post-hospitalization care, and sports medicine. Telehealth gives physical therapists the options to see more patients every day and gives them more flexibility in work and travel arrangements, which can result in higher pay.

Physical Therapist Career Path Choices That Will Boost Pay

Physical Therapist Skills That Will Increase Your Pay

There’s no one-size-fits-all employment track for physical therapists. In fact, many physical therapists choose to specialize exclusively in one area, which can lead to higher pay and better career opportunities. After gaining experience in the field, physical therapists can apply to become a board-certified specialist by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS), which allows them to gain a special certification in areas including neurology, orthopedics, oncology, pediatrics, and other areas.

Which specializations are the most lucrative? If you enjoy working with athletes, you’re in luck: sports medicine is one of the highest paying specializations in physical therapy, according to the Physical Therapist Alliance. Physical therapists who specialize in sports medicine are typically employed both in private clinics and by athletic institutions such as professional and college sports teams.

Another high-paying specialty for physical therapists is geriatric medicine. Nursing and residential care facilities offer the highest median pay for physical therapists, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There will also be increased demand for physical therapists specializing in geriatric medicine as the baby boomers generation ages, resulting in higher pay for those with the specialty and experience. In addition, as chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity have become increasingly prevalent, more physical therapists will be needed to help patients manage their aging lives with these conditions.

Physical Therapist Skills That Will Increase Your Pay

How to Get a Raise as a Physical Therapist

Specialization is one of your best bets for getting a raise as a physical therapist. According to a survey conducted by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists, almost 39 percent of employment facilities (which ranged from hospitals to small private clinics) said that they would support a salary increase as a result of employees obtaining the specialization certification administered by the ABPTS, and 43 percent would support non-financial rewards such as a change in job title or increase in authority because of it.

Another — albeit less conventional — way to see higher pay is simply to change your location. The top paying state for physical therapists in 2018 was Nevada, with an annual mean wage of $107,920, followed by Alaska, at an annual mean wage of $99,180, and New Jersey, with an annual mean wage of $97,770, according to the BLS. These wages stand in high contrast to states like Idaho, where the 2018 mean annual wage for physical therapists was $77,000, and Vermont, where the 2018 mean annual wage for physical therapists was $75,010.

Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth™ salary estimator gives you a clear idea of the raise you should be asking for, by giving you an objective figure to compare your current salary against.

Just enter your job title, location, years of experience, and a few other pieces of information to get a free, personalized estimate of what the market value of your skill set is. This way, you can both understand if you’re getting paid fairlyand have a concrete number to bring to the table when it comes time to negotiate your salary.

How to Get a Raise as a Physical Therapist

How to Get a New, Higher Paying Job

While physical therapy is a well-compensated profession in the United States (the mean annual wage for physical therapists in 2018 was $88,880, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) there are still opportunities for higher-paying jobs in the field of healthcare.  While these careers require additional schooling, which comes at a cost, the higher salaries can easily pay themselves off in the long-term.

NURSE PRACTITIONER

Mean annual wage: $110,030

Degrees required: Master’s degree

NURSE ANESTHETIST

Mean annual wage: $174,790

Degrees required: Master’s degree

PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT

Mean annual wage: $108,430

Degrees required: Master’s degree

How to Get a New, Higher Paying Job

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