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  • Demand for PTs Likely to Increase, Even With More Graduates Available

    The latest data from APTA show that while an increase in graduates from physical therapist (PT) education programs could help to slightly lower projected workforce shortages in the future, the trend toward increased health insurance coverage nationwide will likely still mean that the demand for PTs will continue to climb between now and 2020.

    The new workforce model now available online incorporates 2014 data on the number of licensed PTs, the number of PT graduates, and US population with health insurance into a workforce demand formula that projects demand for PTs under 3 different attrition scenarios—1.5%, 2.5%, and 3.5% yearly attrition rates. Those scenarios were developed to accommodate a still-uncertain picture of how many PTs retire or otherwise drop out of the workforce every year. The model is updated annually by the association's research department.

    Most of APTA's projections continue to show physical therapy as a growing profession, with unmet demand ranging from 606 to 26,696 PT full-time equivalents (FTEs) over the next 5 years depending on how many PTs leave the workforce. Before the 2014 adjustments, APTA predicted a 1,530 FTE surplus at the lowest attrition rate. That surplus was changed to a shortage of 606 when the increased number of individuals with health insurance was factored in. A projected shortage was estimated downward by about 1,000 at the highest attrition rate, largely due to an anticipated growth in the number of PT program graduates.

    The total number of licensed PTs is projected to rise from about 192,000 to between 203,000 and 234,000 by 2020. The supply and demand data are part of a suite of resources on the physical therapy workforce available on APTA's website.

    The projections for shortages echo similar predictions made by The Conference Board and Forbe's magazine, which listed physical therapy as 1 of the "top 10 jobs in high demand."


    • How about PTAs?

      Posted by Myra on 3/6/2015 6:30 PM

    • Is the APTA just talking about PT's or are they saying Physical Therapy in general? If they are just talking about PT's than I'm with Myra what about PTA's?

      Posted by Nancy on 3/11/2015 4:05 PM

    • Well, I am sad to say that it appears that PTA's are not even on the radar for the APTA or the individual states' professional associations. The only settings that utilize PTAs seem to be inpatient settings and the private practice/outpatient facilities usually employ PT Aides and unfortunately allow them to perform tasks and treatments that many state laws actually "prohibit" in their B&P codes and bylaws/PT Act Laws and Regulations. The pay rates don't even begin to support or justify the cost of obtaining a PT doctorate degree and it is certainly possible to make a VERY GOOD salary as a PTA in the hospital, home health, and SNF/Transitional Care facilities! I have had the honor of learning from some truly amazingly skilled PTAs in my short 3-4 years I've been working as one myself and in many cases they've made well over $38-$42/hr - which is what I've read that is close to what new dPT graduates are being offered. Definitely would like to see that $125k+ degree pay off MUCH better for all the new dPTs and a broader, more prevalent use of role of PTAs in ALL settings! I know, I know....the hurdles are many and some of them very high but I'd sure like to see our profession and it's leaders continue to build up its place on the health care team in ALL settings.

      Posted by Danielle S. on 3/12/2015 2:39 AM

    • The APTA is all about PTs. From what I see, they see us PTAs as second class citizens. They couldn't care less about us.

      Posted by seth on 3/12/2015 5:25 PM

    • I agree that some PT's don't care about PTA's due to the fact that they hire Aides to do the work of PTA's and in some setting they grandfather aides in as PTA's and they make more money than a LPTA; also done by PT's.

      Posted by David Tindall on 4/20/2015 3:32 PM

    • Which state high demand of PT means which state has shortage of PT??

      Posted by Jivanbhai Ahir on 12/14/2016 12:34 AM

    • Why are PTs in such a high demand though?

      Posted by Alina Zia on 10/3/2017 5:43 PM

    • Well, this ended up being wrong. There is a surplus in many areas that had a shortage 4 years ago

      Posted by chris sherwin on 10/3/2019 10:32 AM

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