Physical therapy continues to be a popular—and, many times, lucrative—field, as is reflected by BLS statistics.
Jobs for physical therapist assistants are expected to increase much faster than the average for all jobs between 2012 and 2022. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a tremendous 41 percent increase in the number of physical therapist assistant jobs nationwide during this ten-year period. There were 71,400 physical therapist assistants working in the U.S. in 2012; by 2022, this number is expected to increase to 100,700.
The average annual salary for physical therapist assistants nationwide was $54,330, as of May 2014. The BLS also reported that the top 10 percent of physical therapist assistants earned more than $75,530 during the same time.
Similarly, the ADVANCE for Physical Therapy 2013 Salary Survey revealed an average, annual salary of $54,520 for physical therapist assistants.
Find Salary Info For Your State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Physical Therapist Assistant Salary Trends
The more recent ADVANCE for Physical Therapy 2013 Salary Survey found that salaries for physical therapist assistants varied according to geography, experience, and even gender. For example, the survey revealed the following:
Like most service-oriented professions, salaries among physical therapist assistants vary according to the area of the country in which they work:
- Forty-five percent of all physical therapist assistants worked in the suburbs, followed by 35.5 percent in urban settings, and 19 percent in rural locations. However, physical therapist assistants working in urban settings earned, on average, more than their urban and suburban counterparts did.
- About 5 percent of physical therapist assistants in the South and West earned between $85,000 and $100,000 in 2012.
- The southern region of the U.S. was home to the most physical therapist assistants in 2012; the South also had the highest concentration of physical therapist assistants—28 percent—earning between $55,000 and $65,000 annually.
- The western and southern areas of the country were the only regions where physical therapist assistants earned more than $100,000.
- Physical therapist assistants in the Midwest were the most likely to earn less than $45,000 per year.
Gender – Physical therapy continues to be a female-dominated profession. According to the ADVANCE for Physical Therapy 2012 Salary Survey, the majority of women worked as physical therapists vs. physical therapist assistants (1,058 vs. 348 of surveyed practitioners), while the majority of men worked as physical therapist assistants, with far fewer working as physical therapists (463 vs. 118 of surveyed practitioners).
Experience – As would be expected, experience plays a large role in physical therapist assistant salaries.
For example, the ADVANCE salary survey found that nearly 81 percent of all physical therapist assistants practicing for more than 21 years earned more than $65,000, while just 40 percent of those with less than 5 years of experience earned that much.
Education – One of the factors where salary differences were not as evident was education.
About 38 percent of physical therapist assistants who held an associate’s degree (the minimum educational requirement to become a physical therapist assistant) as their terminal degree earned $55,000 or more in 2012, compared to 45 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree.
BLS Salary Statistics for Physical Therapist Assistants
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) broke down salaries for physical therapist assistants by industry, revealing the following as top-paying industries for these healthcare professionals, as of May 2014:
- Home healthcare services: $62,810
- Employment services: $62,040
- Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities): $60,840
- Continuing care retirement communities/assisted living facilities: $57,800
The BLS also found that physical therapist assistants earned the highest, average salaries in the following states:
- Texas: $69,370
- California: $64,850
- New Jersey: $61,630
- Alaska: $61,520
- Florida: $60,290
Similar to the ADVANCE survey, the BLS revealed that many of the highest paying salaries for physical therapist assistants were in the southern and western regions of the U.S. (both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan):
- Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas: $91,930
- Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida: $80,160
- Modesto, California: $78,690
- Corpus Christi, Texas: $76,460
- Kokomo, Indiana: $73,760
- El Paso, Texas: $73,590
- Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas: $72,960
- Tyler, Texas: $72,940
- Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas: $71,680
- Columbia, South Carolina: $70,120
- Gulf Coast Texas: $83,300
- North Central Texas: $70,540
- Eastern Texas: $66,360
- South Florida: $64,650
- Northwest Florida: $64,200
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a full analysis of salaries for physical therapist assistants throughout the United States in the table below (2014):