The Results Are In! 2019 Physical Therapy Salary Survey

Almost 3,000 PT professionals weighed in on all matters pertaining to earnings

Our first PT Salary Survey in three years hasn’t yielded much in the way of surprising results, but instead paints a picture of a thriving profession: mid-career professionals enjoying ideal working conditions and enjoying strong levels of copensations with reason to feel optimistic for future increases.

Of the nearly 3,000 PTs, PTAs and rehabilitation aides who answered the survey, nearly 60 percent reported that they have received a raise of some level in the past 12 months. About the same number report no required overtime in their places of employment (with an additional 15 percent or so reporting that they work overtime despite no requirement.)

Based on our results, it’s not hard to see why physical therapy was such a popular career choice for Generation X. Most of those professionals seem happy with their choice, and optimistic that the field’s popularity will extend into subsequent generations.

Demographics

There was about a 65/35 split between PTs and PTAs for this year’s Salary Survey responses (plus another eight rehabilitation aides who answered.) Among the respondents, female-to-male was about a 70/30 split.

A few more demographics:

  • When we cited ‘mid-career’ professionals… the most popular range of experience was 16-25 years (35 percent) with the most common age range being 41-50 years old (34 percent.) Only 3.4 percent of respondents indicated over 40 years’ experience, with just 7.6 percent at five years or fewer.
  • As in our other surveys, Florida was the state that sent in the most responses, with over 11 percent of surveys coming from the Sunshine State. California, New York, and Pennsylvania were next in order.

Levels of Compensation

So here’s the key question/answer upon which all other results are based—how much money are PT professionals making. 

The answer? To be determined. For now, in this initial look at the results we can tell you that the $80,001–$90,000 range received the most responses (15 percent). But every single range from $50,001–$60,000 to $100,001–$110,000 received at least 12 percent of the responses. Of all the professional surveys we’ve evaluated to this point, this one has by far the largest range of ‘common’ salaries representing the field. 

Once we move outside of those common ranges, however, a far greater number of professionals (17.6 percent) are making $50,000 or less than those who are making $110,001 or greater (5.6 percent.)

Work Status

Just over 75 percent of responses indicated full-time employment, with only 14 percent choosing part-time employment. Per diem workers were also well represented at 8 percent, with retired or “currently not working” making up the remainder of the answers.

“Clinician” was overwhelmingly positioned as the top option for the question of “What is your current role?” at 81 percent. Rehab Director was next at 11 percent of responses. Outpatient physical therapy clinics (30 percent), Skilled Nursing Facilities (21 percent), and Home Care (20 percent) were the top-three most common work settings, with no other options receiving more than 8 percent of responses. Hospitals and schools rounded out the top five in this category.

Benefits

Eighty-four percent of responses indicate that employers are providing paid benefits. As was the case in our occupational therapy survey, this is a greater figure than the number of employees answering that they work full time (75.7 percent)—our unofficial barometer for whether the profession is in a good place in terms of offering benefits to employees. 

Aside from relatively standard medical/vision/dental/401(k) benefits, prescription benefits (56 percent), reimbursement for continuing education (55 percent), Health Savings Accounts (46 percent), and tuition reimbursement (21 percent) were common answers as to the particular benefits offered.

81 percent of employees indicated their benefits have improved or remained the same over the past 12 months, with 78 percent answering that they consider the benefits they receive to be average or better.

Work Schedules/Overtime

This was covered in some detail above, but less than 5 percent of respondents indicated they are non-salaried employees of whom overtime is required. Only a select few are working more than 5-8 hours overtime in a given week. 

In all, more than 70 percent indicated they are not working overtime. A full 26 percent of PT professionals said they do hold a second job, however, with most of them devoting 10 or fewer hours to that position in a given week. 

Most PTs work pretty close to the home, with 62 percent reporting a commute of less than 30 minutes and 86 percent answering less than 45 minutes. But the ease of getting to and from work wouldn’t stop them from considering an opportunity to work as a virtual PT—at least not the 57 percent of people who responded to that question.

Job Loyalty/Education/Career Aspirations 

Almost three quarters (73.4 percent to be exact) of responses indicated they typically remain in a job for five years or longer. Based on our preliminary numbers, it seems healthcare workers are simply more loyal employees than the typical American, with (unofficial) number often indicating about half of Americans start looking for new employment after about two years on a job. 

Only 21 percent of PT professionals said they have a specialty certification. Highest level of education completed was fairly evenly split between four options:

  • Bachelor’s Degree (28 percent)
  • Master’s Degree (25 percent)
  • Associate’s Degree (24 percent)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (22 percent)

Regardless of the answer, PTs seem largely content with their educational status as less than a quarter said they’ve seriously considered returning to school. This, of course, is in spite of the encouraging number of professionals who said their employers would pay or reimburse them for any such endeavors. 

All in all, our 2019 Survey paints a picture of a healthy profession. It’s not hard to see why so many Gen X’ers wanted to become PTs, and they seem rather happy with the decision. Ideally, professional leadership organizations would likely prefer to see more PTs working to attain the DPT degree, and maybe a greater number of specialty-certified PTs. On the whole, however, PTs can be pleased with where they stand amongst the professional world in a relatively young area of business. 

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