How Lucrative Are Physical Therapy Occupations?


by Eileen O’Shanassy

Physical therapy is a primary care specialty that uses mechanical force and movements to assist patients in recovering normal body motions. Treatments include manual therapy, exercise, electrotherapy, and various physical exercises designed to restore mobility, function, and quality of life to someone in the healing process.

Other activities in the physical therapy field profession include research, teaching, consulting, and managerial administration. Physical therapists provide individual primary-care treatment or work in conjunction with other medical specialists.

Physical therapy has five distinct subspecialties. The following defines each group and states the salary range of each particular specialty. As of August 03, 2017, the national average physical therapist salary is $81,775.

The salary ranges reported by salary.com can vary widely from state to state and type of therapy performed. These are yearly salary ranges, and do not include signing or merit bonuses. Gender also plays a role in determining salaries. Although women far out-number men in the physical therapy field, men are generally paid more for the same service. Keep this in mind when evaluating these numbers. 

Orthopedic Physical Therapy

Orthopedic physical therapy deals with restoring function to the muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Treatment includes various exercises, hot and cold packs, ultrasound, and electrical muscle stimulation. The most common patients are people recovering from sports injuries or injuries suffered in automobile accidents.
Salary range: $55,218 – $82,712

Geriatric Physical Therapy

Geriatric physical therapy deals with the mobility needs of older adults. The general aim of geriatric physical therapy is to help restore mobility to the patients, reduce pain, and improve overall physical fitness.
Salary range: $61,127 – $102,771

Neurological Physical Therapy

This branch of physical therapy focuses on neurological issues such as brain injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. Treatment is geared to the patient living independently for as long as possible. Teaching areas include adapting to visual, balance, mobility, and muscle loss impairments.
Salary range: $59,456 – $104,464

Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy

This therapy concentrates on assisting patients who suffer from cardiovascular and pulmonary problems like heart attacks and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The aim of this specialty is to increase physical endurance to maximize functional independence.
Salary range: $43,434 – $77,761

Pediatric Physical Therapy

Pediatric physical therapy focuses on infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents. The therapists deal with diseases and injuries including birth defects, developmental delays, genetic disorders, head and limb trauma and muscle diseases.
Salary range: $49,633 – $89,437

Physical therapy is a great career path, and contrary to what many first think, offers a lot of specialized programs in which to work. Use this as a starting point to see where you’d most like your skills to be put to use.


Eileen O’Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter, @eileenoshanassy.


Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

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