I don’t think that anyone should have to be told that doctors make a lot of money. They have to go to a lot of school, and their work is incredible sensitive. However, medical doctors aren’t the only people who are capable of saving the lives of other people. A physical therapist is someone who works with their patients to allow them to recover from a serious injury. If someone is hurt in a serious way in a car accident, a doctor may keep them from dying, but a physical therapist will help them get their life back to normal. It can be very difficult work, and a physical therapist needs to have a lot of patience for their patients, but it’s also some of the most rewarding work that a person can do.
Plenty of people dream of becoming a physical therapist, and they may do so with the belief that they’re going to be paid as much as your average doctor. Is that kind of belief unfounded? How well is a physical therapist paid compared to a doctor or a nurse? In this article, I plan to answer those questions, among a few others. I’m going to be talking about how much the average physical therapist is paid, while also making sure to address how that figure may change with factors like experience and education. Not only that, but I’m also going to spend some time talking about what process someone has to go through in order to become a physical therapist. Without further ado, let’s learn a little bit more this important job.
Average Physical Therapist Salary in 2018 – $84,020
The average physical therapist is paid about $84,020 per year, which is definitely a respectable figure for someone working in medicine. Most physical therapists need to go undergo a lot of training, and so they are paid a lot for the work that they do. However, since that’s an average figure, that obviously means that some people are paid more and some people are paid less. How does a factor like location affect that figure? As you can imagine, pretty much everyone has a need for physical therapists. However, some larger cities have a greater need for physical therapists than others. So if you live in a city like Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, or Seattle, you may find that physical therapists are in higher demand. Living in one of those cities should mean that you have an easier time finding work, and if you are able to find work then you should be able to be paid more.
Another factor that can affect one’s salary is experience. Physical therapy isn’t unlike any other field, in that someone with more experience is obviously paid more than someone with less experience. A physical therapist with over twenty years of experience can be paid up to $20,000 more per year than someone with just entry-level experience. What could possibly contribute to such a larger difference in income? Well, if you have more experience in your field, then you obviously have worked with a wider variety of people in a wider variety of cases. To put it simply, you are less likely to be surprised by what is expected of you in your work. You may also be more familiar with the kind of equipment that is used by your average physical therapist. Finally, the more experience you have, the more likely you are to possess the intangible traits like patience and perseverance that are needed for someone to flourish in this position.
Finally, let’s consider how a physical therapist’s formal education can affect their pay. In order to become a physical therapist, you typically only need a bachelor’s degree along with the required licenses and certification. However, it’s obviously possible to study at a higher level than that in this particular field. Although you don’t have to have a doctorate in order to work as a physical therapist, there are plenty of physical therapists who do actually have a doctorate. If you have a doctorate, you’re obviously paid much more than someone without one. In many cases, a physical therapist with a doctorate can be paid well over six figures. Although going back to school will obviously take a good deal of work, it could end up being well worth it in the end when you’re being a lot more than some of your less educated co-workers.
How to become a physical therapist – Do you need to go to school?
If you’ve read all of that information above and you’re still interested in becoming a physical therapist, then I think I should take some time to discuss what one needs to do in order to be a part of this exciting profession. The first thing that you need to do is finish high school, so that you can get into a good undergraduate program. In college, you’re going to be studying something related to health sciences. Some schools offer programs meant for aspiring physical therapists, but otherwise you’re going to want to study a subject like anatomy, biology, physiology, chemistry, or physics. Once you’re done with that, although you don’t need a doctorate, you’re going to need to complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree program. This is sort of like a training program, and it will usually take about three years for you to complete.
Once that’s out of the way, you need to become officially licensed. Although you’re not an actual medical doctor, you still need to be licensed in order to work in medicine in this capacity. Different states have different rules for how this works, so you should look into your local jurisdiction to find out the specifics yourself. However, each state will have you taking the National Physical Therapy Examination, also known as the NPTE. Even if you aren’t able to pass this exam on your first try, you’re able to take it up to three times within a twelve month period. Outside of this exam, you may also need to pass a law exam and complete a criminal background check. Nonetheless, I seriously suggest that you check out your local licensing laws so that you understand exactly what is expected of you at this stage.
Once you’re done with that, you can technically start looking for work right away. Take advantage of the connections that you’ve formed throughout your education to find work and to get paid. However, there are a few other things that you can do before you get straight into the workforce. You can choose to complete a residency, which will allow you to gather more experience before you dive head first into this field. Not only that, but you can also look to become board certified. Being board certified requires a lot of work, including 2,000 logged hours of clinical work. You also have to pass an exam. You don’t actually have to become board certified to work in physical therapy, but it could lead to a larger salary. Once all of this preparation is behind you, you should be completely ready to dive right itno this exciting and well-paying field of work.