APTA Responds to The Wall Street Journal on PT Educational Requirements

September 2, 2009

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to "Labor Day and the American Dream: College isn't for everyone" by William McGurn in the Aug. 31 Opinion: Main Street.

Mr. McGurn quotes economist Robert Lerman as saying, "physical therapists earn about $74,000 a year, while power plant operators average $58,000. Both jobs can be done by high school graduates who have had extra training, and both pay above the American mean earnings of $42,000 a year."

APTA would like to request a correction regarding the educational requirements necessary to become a physical therapist.

All physical therapists are required to receive a graduate degree - either a masters or a clinical doctorate - from an accredited physical therapist program before taking the national licensure examination that allows them to practice. Also, state licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices. Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs must complete a 2-year associate's degree and are licensed, certified, or registered in most states.

The median salary for a physical therapist is $80,000 and for a physical therapist assistant, $46,000, depending on position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic location, and practice setting.

To learn more about the rewarding and challenging physical therapy profession, please visit www.moveforwardpt.com.

Yours sincerely,

Emilio J. Rouco
Director, Public Relations and Marketing
American Physical Therapy Association