How Much Do Physical Therapists Make? | DPT Program at PCOM Georgia
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How Much Do Physical Therapists Make?

December 7, 2023

As of May 2022, the median pay for physical therapists was $97,720 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This number represents the midpoint in wages for physical therapists—half of physical therapists earned more and half earned less. The highest 10 percent of earners in this profession had salaries in excess of $128,830.

Assessing earning potential is just one aspect of researching and choosing a career path. With careers requiring an advanced degree—such as a doctorate in physical therapy—analyzing the cost of education versus future income can help a prospective student understand the return on investment for their degree.

“Graduate education is expensive,” cautions Ruth Maher, PT, PhD, DPT, chair of the physical therapy program at PCOM Georgia. “Prospective students need to consider not only the program and associated fees, but also textbooks, and living expenses, especially while on clinical rotations for several weeks as these can be anywhere in the country and students don't always get their choice.”

Should I choose a career in physical therapy?

Beyond considering costs, Maher also recommends prospective students get as much exposure to the variety of settings in which physical therapists work in order to better understand the scope of the profession before choosing to pursue physical therapy as a career.

A physical therapist helps a patient with exercises.“Physical therapy can be a physically demanding career depending on the setting, as much of what we do requires a great degree of lifting, bending and demonstrating a variety of exercises and tasks,” Maher explained.

She also encourages prospective students to make an inventory of their skills and traits.

“Physical therapists work with individuals across the lifespan from those with life-changing impairments to elite athletes,” Maher said. “Being empathic and compassionate are essential, as is the ability to communicate effectively with individuals of all ages and backgrounds.” 

The ability to solve problems, think critically and self-reflect are also essential for success as a PT student and as a physical therapist, she added. 

Once a prospective student has determined if a career in physical therapy would be a good fit for their skills and interests, assessing salary can be a next step in the decision-making process.

What is the average physical therapist salary?

Glassdoor, which provides insights on careers and employers, lists an average physical therapist salary of $90,236 annually as of December 2023. Glassdoor salary calculations are based on information contributed by site users and adjusted for inflation and age of data when appropriate.

What is the average physical therapist salary in Georgia?

In Georgia, where the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at PCOM Georgia is located, the average physical therapist salary was $96,670 according to BLS data as of May 2022. The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell area in Georgia is ranked by the BLS as one of the top ten metropolitan areas with the highest employment levels for physical therapists.

What are the highest physical therapist salaries by state?

According to BLS data, the top paying states for physical therapists include California with an annual mean wage of $114,230 followed by Nevada ($105,880), New Jersey ($105,430), Alaska ($104,470) and Connecticut ($103,920).

In the Southeast region, Alabama leads with an annual mean wage of $97,120, followed by Georgia ($96,670), Mississippi ($96,520), Louisiana ($95,820) and North Carolina ($92,200).

What is the job outlook for physical therapists?

In addition to assessing earning potential when choosing a career, the availability of jobs in that profession is another important consideration. For those considering a career in physical therapy, BLS data indicates the job outlook is positive. From 2022 to 2032, demand for physical therapists is projected to grow much faster than average at 15 percent. Over the next decade, about 13,900 physical therapists openings are expected each year fueled in part by the large number of baby boomers. As this group ages, the number of mobility-related injuries requiring physical therapy for rehabilitation is expected to rise.

Overall, employment for physical therapists is expected to increase from 246,800 in 2022 to 284,100 in 2032.

Interested in becoming a physical therapist?

PCOM Georgia offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree designed to be completed in three years. The physical therapy program includes full-time clinical experiences which provide students with the opportunity to apply the knowledge, skills and behaviors necessary for the safe and effective practice of physical therapy. 

“PCOM Georgia's physical therapy faculty have consistently been reported by our students as the primary reason they choose our program,” Maher said. “Our faculty are also practicing clinicians, researchers and innovators with many holding advanced doctorates beyond the DPT.”

In addition to being board-certified specialists in a variety of areas including geriatrics, pediatrics, neurologics and women's health, faculty members also provide service to the local community and volunteer on a variety of national boards and committees relevant to the profession of physical therapy. 

“Our primary focus is on student success,” Maher emphasized. “The facilities of PCOM Georgia are designed to optimize student learning whether that's in our state of the art anatomy lab, our simulation center or physical therapy learning center.”

Additionally, interprofessional education reflects PCOM’s collaborative, whole person approach to healthcare.

“We have many interprofessional activities included in the curricula to prepare our students to work as a member of a collaborative interprofessional team focused on increased understanding of professional roles and responsibilities but—more importantly—putting patients first and improving patient outcomes,” Maher added. 

Visit our frequently asked questions page to learn more about the physical therapy program at PCOM Georgia.


Last updated: Dec. 7, 2023