Physical Therapist Assistant Salary

Since the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured Americans continues to fall, decreasing from a high of 37% ten years ago to 24% in 2018. At the same time, the number of seniors continues to climb, and as we all know, they’re enjoying better health, and living longer thanks largely to the fact they’re actively embracing longevity and an active lifestyle like no other generation before them. And along with all that activity comes injuries that only physical therapists and PTAs are able to help with. All this comes together to create the perfect environment for growth in the physical therapy field – so much so that demand is far outstripping the supply of PTAs graduating from training programs and entering the workforce.

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In fact, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), even as physical therapy programs expand to accommodate more students, the U.S. may see a shortage of up to 26,000+ physical therapists by the time 2025 rolls around. And where there’s a demand for physical therapists, there’s an equal demand for physical therapy assistants.

PTAs are the allied health professionals who get the ball rolling and work, day in and day out, with patients to implement the treatment plans and achieve the goals that physical therapists put into motion. That’s a major responsibility, so it’s a job that comes with generous paychecks to match.

 


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How Practice Settings, Location and Experience Affect What PTAs Can Expect to Earn

State-by-State Guide to PTA Salaries and Hourly Pay Rates


 


How Practice Settings, Location and Experience Affect What PTAs Can Expect to Earn

A May 2018 report from the APTA showed physical therapy assistants earned an average, annual salary of $52,000. That salary average has increased by $1,000 every single year for the past several years. But an average figure like this doesn’t really tell the whole story. A lot of what you can expect to earn comes down to location, practice setting, and the number of years you have in the field.

Work in home healthcare, a skilled nursing facility, a hospital, or in a college/university and you’ll earn significantly more than your colleagues in outpatient settings in many cases.

Take a look at what you can expect to earn depending on where you get hired on:

  • Colleges/universities: $63,000
  • Home healthcare: $61,500
  • Acute care hospitals: $52,500
  • Skilled nursing facility/LTC: $52,000
  • Hospital outpatient facility/clinic: $50,000
  • Private practice/outpatient office: $48,000

As expected, salaries for PTAs tend to vary – however slightly – according to region:

  • New England: $52,000
  • Mid-Atlantic: $51,250
  • Midwest: $49,000-$50,000
  • South: $53,000 – $55,000
  • West (Mountain): $49,950
  • West (Pacific): $55,500

Seasoned PTAs are valued, and the salaries they’re paid reflect this fact. Get a few years of experience under your belt and you’ll soon enjoy as much as $5,000-$10,000 more annually than someone fresh out of school:

  • 0-3 years’ experience: $45,000
  • 4-6: $49,000
  • 7-9 years: $52,500
  • 10-15 years: $60,000
  • 16-20 years: $57,204
  • 21-30: $61,500

The APTA reports that PTAs with 5 years of experience earn about $5 more hourly than those with less experience. And because experience in the field is highly regarded the APTA created the Certificate of Recognition of Advanced Proficiency as a way to call attention to that experience.

To earn this voluntary certificate, you must have at least 5 years of work experience, including at least 500 hours of work in the past year in one of the following areas: acute care, aquatics, cardiovascular/pulmonary, geriatric, integumentary, musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, oncology, or pediatrics. You must also be a member of the APTA and meet specific continuing education requirements.

A September 2020 PayScale also reflects the growth of PTA salaries by experience:

  • Less than 1 year of experience: $47,112
  • 1-4 years’ experience: $51,022
  • 5-9 years’ experience: $55,203
  • 10-19 years’ experience: $59,238
  • 20+ years: $64,688

And along with experience comes specialization, which also increases earning potential. Whether your specialization is a result of years of experience in a specific area of physical therapy or an APTA Certificate of Recognition of Advanced Proficiency in a specialty area, according to PayScale, you’ll enjoy a higher salary.

For example, PTAs specializing in home healthcare earn about 10% more than the average PTA, while those specializing in either wound care and geriatrics earn about 7% more. Specialize in pain management and you’ll earn about 6% more, or in long-term care, and you’ll earn about 5% more.

State-by-State Guide to PTA Salaries and Hourly Pay Rates

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an average, annual salary of $58,790 ($28.26/hour) for PTAs as of May 2019.

The top 10% in the profession—likely those with significant, specialized experience—earned an average of $80,840 ($38.87) during this time.

According to the BLS, some of the top earners in the field worked in the following settings:

  • Skilled nursing facilities: $66,120
  • Child day care: $66,040
  • Assisted living facilities: $65,800
  • Home health care: $65,430

The BLS also provided the latest average salaries/hourly wages for PTAs (at the 50th and 90th percentiles) to give you a better idea of what you can expect to earn where you live:

  • Alabama: $58,580 – $78,300 ($28.16 – $37.64/hour) (approximately 1,790 licensed PTAs)
  • Alaska: $65,230 – $85,070 ($31.36 – $40.90/hour) (approximately 240 licensed PTAs)
  • Arizona: $36,260 – $74,170 ($17.43 – $35.66/hour) (approximately 2,900 licensed PTAs)
  • Arkansas: $58,940 – $80,270 ($28.34 – $38.59/hour) (approximately 1,370 licensed PTAs)
  • California: $69,620 – $90,560 ($33.47 – $43.54/hour) (approximately 5,750 licensed PTAs)
  • Colorado: $56,360 – $72,410 ($27.10 – $34.82/hour) (approximately 1,500 licensed PTAs)
  • Connecticut: $67,100 – $86,310 ($32.26 – $41.50/hour) (approximately 630 licensed PTAs)
  • Delaware: $58,180 – $83,270 ($27.97 – $40.03/hour) (approximately 340 licensed PTAs)
  • District of Columbia: $38,100 – $58,950 ($18.32 – $28.34/hour) (approximately 190 licensed PTAs)
  • Florida: $62,810 – $82,460 ($30.20 – $39.64/hour) (approximately 6,780 licensed PTAs)
  • Georgia: $58,200 – $78,740 ($27.98 – $37.85/hour) (approximately 2,570 licensed PTAs)
  • Hawaii: $57,380 – $70,530 ($27.59 – $33.91/hour) (approximately 190 licensed PTAs)
  • Idaho: $55,360- $75,260 ($26.61 – $36.18/hour) (approximately 590 licensed PTAs)
  • Illinois: $59,860 – $80,770 ($28.78 – $38.83/hour) (approximately 3,980 licensed PTAs)
  • Indiana: $56,160 – $77,610 ($27.00 – $37.31/hour) (approximately 2,620 licensed PTAs)
  • Iowa: $49,910 – $71,700 ($23.99 – $34.47/hour) (approximately 1,030 licensed PTAs)
  • Kansas: $58,390 – $78,940 ($28.07 – $37.95/hour) (approximately 1,240 licensed PTAs)
  • Kentucky: $54,960 – $72,390 ($26.42 – $34.80/hour) (approximately 1,570 licensed PTAs)
  • Louisiana: $54,870 – $85,040 ($26.38 – $40.89/hour) (approximately 1,490 licensed PTAs)
  • Maine: $55,600 – $65,000 ($26.73 – $31.25/hour) (approximately 350 licensed PTAs)
  • Maryland: $56,770 – $81,680 ($27.29 – $39.27/hour) (approximately 1,880 licensed PTAs)
  • Massachusetts: $65,280 – $81,750 ($31.39 – $39.30/hour) (approximately 2,520 licensed PTAs)
  • Michigan: $53,950 – $67,810 ($25.94 – $32.60/hour) (approximately 3,540 licensed PTAs)
  • Minnesota: $56,190 – $67,450 ($27.02 – $32.43/hour) (approximately 1,590 licensed PTAs)
  • Mississippi: $50,410 – $74,360 ($24.24 – $35.75/hour) (approximately 810 licensed PTAs)
  • Missouri: $52,680 – $70,560 ($25.33 – $33.92/hour) (approximately 2,480 licensed PTAs)
  • Montana: $51,220 – $73,790 ($24.63 – $35.48/hour) (approximately 280 licensed PTAs)
  • Nebraska: $50,420 – $65,630 ($24.24 – $31.56/hour) (approximately 650 licensed PTAs)
  • Nevada: $63,550 – $107,010 ($30.55 – $51.45/hour) (approximately 470 licensed PTAs)
  • New Hampshire: $61,150 – $77,380 ($29.40 – $37.20/hour) (approximately 330 licensed PTAs)
  • New Jersey: $71,140 – $86,080 ($34.20 – $41.38/hour) (approximately 1,420 licensed PTAs)
  • New Mexico: $53,140 – $75,910 ($25.55 – $36.49/hour) (approximately 600 licensed PTAs)
  • New York: $55,980 – $78,040 ($26.91 – $37.52/hour) (approximately 5,410 licensed PTAs)
  • North Carolina: $61,420 – $79,290 ($29.53 – $38.12/hour) (approximately 2,820 licensed PTAs)
  • North Dakota: $47,650 – $64,360 ($22.91 – $30.94/hour) (approximately 130 licensed PTAs)
  • Ohio: $58,910 – $77,850 ($28.32 – $37.43/hour) (approximately 6,040 licensed PTAs)
  • Oklahoma: $60,110 – $84,440 ($28.90 – $40.59/hour) (approximately 1,550 licensed PTAs)
  • Oregon: $60,920 – $80,160 ($29.29 – $38.54/hour) (approximately 810 licensed PTAs)
  • Pennsylvania: $56,950 – $76,040 ($27.38 – $36.56/hour) (approximately 5,330 licensed PTAs)
  • Rhode Island: $65,000 – $81,800 ($31.25 – $39.33/hour) (approximately 390 licensed PTAs)
  • South Carolina: $57,500 – $77,170 ($27.64 – $37.10/hour) (approximately 1,580 licensed PTAs)
  • South Dakota: $42,220 – $53,610 ($20.30 – $25.77/hour) (approximately 280 licensed PTAs)
  • Tennessee: $57,730 – $78,520 ($27.76 – $37.75/hour) (approximately 3,290 licensed PTAs)
  • Texas: $66,300 – $104,100 ($31.88 – $50.05/hour) (approximately 7,550 licensed PTAs)
  • Utah: $56,610 – $78,470 ($27.22 – $37.73/hour) (approximately 800 licensed PTAs)
  • Vermont: $58,380 – $71,560 ($28.07 – $34.40/hour) (approximately 150 licensed PTAs)
  • Virginia: $60,530 – $82,190 ($29.10 – $39.51/hour) (approximately 2,930 licensed PTAs)
  • Washington: $59,920 – $79,540 ($28.81 – $38.24/hour) (approximately 1,580 licensed PTAs)
  • West Virginia: $52,700 – $70,920 ($25.34 – $34.10/hour) (approximately 760 licensed PTAs)
  • Wisconsin: $55,050 – $67,480 ($26.47 – $32.44/hour) (approximately 1,600 licensed PTAs)
  • Wyoming: $57,590 – $78,370 ($27.69 – $37.68/hour) (approximately 170 licensed PTAs)

 

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which physical therapy assistants work. BLS salary data represents average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. 

All salary and employment data accessed September 2020.

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