Physical therapists (PTs) are movement experts who optimize quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education.
Physical therapists teach patients how to prevent or manage their condition so that they will achieve long-term health benefits. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.
State licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices.
Learn more about the role of a physical therapist.
What Do Physical Therapists Earn?
More than 209,000 physical therapists are licensed in the United States today. The median salary for a physical therapist is $85,000. Salaries vary based on position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic location, and practice setting. (Source: 2016-2017 PT Practice Profile Survey)
Where Do Physical Therapists Practice?
Although many physical therapists practice in hospitals, more than 80 percent practice in:
- Outpatient clinics or offices
- Inpatient rehabilitation facilities
- Skilled nursing, extended care, or subacute facilities
- Education or research centers
- Industrial, workplace, or other occupational environments
- Fitness centers and sports training facilities
Learn more about physical therapist practice.
What Are the Educational Requirements for Becoming a PT?
As of 2016, all physical therapists receive a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited physical therapist educational program before taking the national licensure exam that allows them to practice. Currently, 200 colleges and universities nationwide support more than 250 accredited professional physical therapist education programs.
Learn more about physical therapist education.
What Are the Licensure Requirements for Becoming a PT?
After graduation, candidates must pass a state-administered national exam. Other requirements for physical therapy practice vary from state to state according to physical therapy practice acts or state regulations governing physical therapy.
What is the Employment Outlook for Physical Therapy?
There is a high demand for physical therapists in the workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapists is expected to grow by 36 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. While demand for physical therapists varies by geographical region and area of practice, the unemployment rates are low across the country. The need for physical therapists is expected to remain strong into the foreseeable future as the US population ages and the demand for physical therapy services grows.
How Do I Become a PT?
Are you interested in becoming a PT? Learn how in our Prospective Students section!