Salaries vary in the physical therapy and related therapeutic job fields depending on several different factors.
Getting a feel for salary ranges upfront could help you get closer to making some decisions about your chosen career path. Keep in mind, salary is not the only reason to follow a certain path. Far too many people choose careers based on salaries, only to find themselves burned out and feeling unfulfilled later.
The salary data below is stated in terms of average, or mean, annual wages. All salary data comes from the latest salary surveys compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). Each field’s potential salaries are dependent on many factors, including:
- Geographic areas
- Typical hours – full-or part-time schedules
- Type of employer
- Degree(s) earned
- Field of study
- Availability of qualified applicants
The figures below are current as of May, 2010. Since these fields are continuing to experience strong growth, and given the factors mentioned above, you may find some differences in the actual salaries in your area and chosen field. Ok, on to the data.
Physical therapists can expect to be well compensated for their expertise and years spent in school. The national average wages for physical therapists was $77,990 according to the May 2010 BLS statistics. On an hourly basis, this equates to $37.50. Wages vary based on the factors mentioned above, and the overall pay range fell between $53,620 per year and $107,920. This means hourly wages were between $25.78 and $51.89.
Physical therapists will find the largest numbers of jobs working in the offices of other health practitioners. Hospitals are the second largest employer, and home health care services comes in at number three. Incidentally, home health care services is the highest-paying employer, averaging $86,590 annually or $41.63 per hour.
Physical Therapy Assistants
The national average annual wages for physical therapist assistants is $49,810. On an hourly basis, this is $23.95 on a national average. For an idea of the variation in pay, the national average hourly wages ranged from $14.94 up to $33.09. Physical therapy assistants saw average annual salaries ranging from $31,070 to $68,820.
The top employer for PT assistants, which is other health practitioners’ offices, pays $23.24 on average per hour. These PT assistants can expect to earn $48,330 on average for the year. The second largest employer, hospitals, paid PT assistants an average of $23.03 per hour or $47,900 per year. Want to know where the highest paying jobs are? On average, home health care jobs paid the highest wages, with hourly pay averaging $28.62 and annual salaries averaging $59,520. If you happen to live in Texas, you’re in luck because this state pays the highest average wages of any state, at $62,440 per year or $30.02 per hour. Ohio and Tennessee had the highest rates of employment for PT assistants, with annual salaries of $53,320 and $51,680, respectively.
Students pursuing careers in occupational therapy can expect to earn good wages, with a national average of $73,380, or $35.28 per hour. These wages vary based on different characteristics such as employer and geographic location, providing compensation in a decent range, from $$48,920 annually or $23.52 per hour, to $102,520 per year or $49.29 hourly. Occupational therapists will find many employment opportunities in general hospitals and offices of other health practitioners. Secondary and elementary schools, nursing facilities and home health care services also provide many job opportunities.
Occupational therapists will find their income highest in home health care and positions that allow them to act in a more supervisory role. Home health care services wages average $83,920 per year, or $40.35 an hour. Geographically, occupational therapists can expect to find the highest wages, $84,320, in California. The next four highest-paying areas are the District of Columbia, Nevada, New Jersey and Texas, with annual wages ranging from $81,800 to $83,550.
Occupational Therapy Assistants
Occupational therapy assistants work alongside occupational therapists to provide patient treatments, assist in developing a treatment plan, document progress and other tasks. Employees in this job earned a national average of $51,300 per year, equating to $24.66 per hour. Wages cover a somewhat broad range, with the lowest hourly wage earned being $15.92, or $33,110 annually while the highest wages were $70,790 annually or $34.03 per hour.
Occupational therapy assistants work alongside occupational therapists, mainly in the offices of other health practitioners, nursing care facilities and general hospitals. Occupational therapy assistants can also be found working in elementary and secondary schools, as well as in home health care businesses. Some of the top wages are earned working in home health care, with hourly wages of $28.40 or $59,080 annually.
Massage therapists earn wages at a national average of $19.12 per hour, or $39,770 per year. Like other disciplines, the wages earned by massage therapists can vary quite a bit, depending on geographic location, employer types and other factors. The overall range of earnings for massage therapists starts at $8.64 hourly on the low end, and $33.17 on the high end. The largest percentage of massage therapists find work in personal care services or the offices of other health practitioners.
Students of massage therapy may want to take note of the highest-paying employers in their field. Although many work for other health practitioners, at resort spots and other recreation and amusement locations, the highest pay is found in specialty hospitals and dental offices, followed by nursing care facilities. Specialty hospitals offer compensation of $55,020 on average, as compared to $34,990 per year in the travel industry. Any massage therapists interested in relocating to Alaska? This state pays $86,250 per year, substantially more than any other state. Delaware is in second place, paying average annual wages of $57,830.
Aromatherapy is a less-developed field than some of the other therapeutic disciplines. Many practitioners, rather than specializing in aromatherapy, pursue a diploma or certificate program in it so they can offer it as an enhancement to other services, such as massage therapy. Statistical data has yet to be compiled for the aromatherapy field.
Sports and Conditioning
Sports and conditioning represents a fairly broad field of job types, and we will discuss one example to give you an idea of the potential for this area of study. Athletic trainers, for example, work with individuals to assist with recovery from sports-related illnesses or injuries, and give guidance on how to maintain a top level of physical conditioning. Some trainers may also provide first aid or emergency medical care.
The average wages for this discipline range from $25,750 per year to $64,390. The national average wage is $44,030. Most people in this field find work at universities, colleges and professional schools. General hospitals and offices of various other health practitioners, along with spectator sports and other recreation industries also provide many jobs. Texas, Pennsylvania and California offer the largest number of jobs in these fields, whilethe highest pay, ranging from $54,240 per year to $58,700 per year is found in the performing arts, spectator sports industries and many labor, business, political and professional organizations.
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