our everyday life

What Is the Average Salary of a Physical Therapist in a Hospital Setting?

by Dana Severson, studioD

Some of the most important members of rehabilitation teams are physical therapists, who provide hands-on therapy to their patients. Sometimes referred to as PTs, these medical professionals develop treatment plans for people recovering from anything from a sprain or a fracture to a stroke or an amputation. They work in a variety of different settings, but one of the more common is a hospital, which doesn’t provide the highest salary for this occupation.

Salary Ranges

In 2012, physical therapists in general averaged $81,110 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those working in a hospital setting brought home closer to $80,060 annually, an increase of roughly 3 percent from the previous year, when salaries averaged $78,710. A 2013 survey by ADVANCE, an online resource of health care professionals, provides a slightly lower figure, finding salaries averaged $76,236 for hospital-based PTs. Those working in home health services reportedly earned the highest pay, an average of $80,220 a year. A 2010 survey by the American Physical Therapy Association breaks down salaries even further, showing that PTs at acute care hospitals earned $85,000, while those at hospital-based outpatient facilities earned $80,000 a year.

Starting Salaries

PTs just entering the field can’t expect to earn nearly as much. Regardless of practice setting, the median starting salary was $60,660 a year, according to the APTA survey. With four to six years of experience, PTs' salaries jumped to $70,000. Those with seven to nine years of experience earned 10 percent more, making a median of $77,000. The highest reported salaries were for PTs with more than 15 years of experience, with a median of $90,000 a year.

Other Influencers

In addition to practice setting and experience, earnings can vary by specialty. For example, PTs working in sports medicine reported some of the highest salaries, bringing home an average of $80,810 a year. Those working in geriatrics also fared better than most, averaging $76,689, according to the ADVANCE survey. PTs in neurology averaged $74,947, while those in hand therapy earned $71,143 annually.

Career Outlook

The BLS expects employment for PTs to be excellent, with an average job growth rate of 39 percent through 2020 -- much faster than the 14-percent job growth predicted for all U.S. occupations. With nearly 50,000 PTs working in hospital settings, the 39-percent growth rate works out to almost 19,000 new jobs in this practice setting over the course of a decade. Aging baby boomers in need of more health care should drive increasing demand for PTs .

About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images