Physical therapists, or physiotherapists, help patients regain or improve movement and manage pain. On average, physical therapists earn $85,790 per year in the United States. The physical therapist salary generally ranges from 46,047 to $91,703 in Canada, $65,000 to $77,999 in Australia, and £21,909 and £28,462 in the United Kingdom. What a physical therapist or physiotherapist makes depends on education, experience, work settings, skills and other factors.
Physical Therapist Salary Influencers
Salaries can turn on what kind of establishment employs a physical therapist. For instance, in the United States, the highest earners were in educational institutions, home health, nursing and skilled care centers. Other settings for physical therapists include clinics, fitness clubs or centers and sports teams. Physical therapists can also operate their own practices.
In the United Kingdom, physiotherapists operate under the National Health Service. There, salaries are determined by the government based on considerations such as experience and certification. However, in the United Kingdom and other countries, physical therapists who work outside government-run programs might command higher compensation. These establishments may include sports teams, clinics, nursing homes and fitness clubs.
Physical therapists who engage in private practice are paid based on contractual arrangements. Norway, for example, offers practitioners payment through a local council or directly from patients.
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Physical Therapist Salary in the US
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists earned an average annual salary of $85,790 in May 2015. Those in educational settings had the highest pay, at $99,740. Physical therapists in home health care services made $96,560, while skilled nursing facilities paid an average of $91,480.
Physical Therapist Salary in Canada
According to PayScale, the annual range is C$46,047 to $91,703. The hourly rate is between $29.37 and $44.86. The ability to perform manual skill rather than experience drives the ability to earn higher wages. Earnings typically do not rise with more experience.
Physical Therapist Salary in the UK
According to the National Careers Service, physiotherapists make between £21,909 and £28,462 per year. The average pay is £35,000 for specialists and £41,000 for an advanced physiotherapist or team manager. These figures are approximately the same for therapists in the National Health Service and for those in private practice.
Physical Therapist Salary in Australia
The Australian Government reports full-time physiotherapists earn an average of AU$1,608 per week. According to the Australian Career Center, salaries range between $1,250 and $1,499 weekly, or $65,000 to $77,999 annually.
Physical Therapist Salary in Switzerland
According to PayScale, Swiss physiotherapists earn between CHF 24,000 and CHF80,537. The annual average is 61,390. PayScale reports bonuses of CHF 750.
Physical Therapist Salary in Norway
Statistics Norway reports that, as of 2015, physiotherapists earned a mean salary of NOK37,300 monthly. On average, physiotherapists received NOK100 per month in overtime. Statistics Norway indicated no bonuses were paid in 2015.
Physical therapists in the United States usually acquire 30 weeks of supervised experience while in school. Upon graduation, these professionals can work in a specialty under a one-year residency program. Those seeking certification by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties must complete either 2,000 hours in a clinical setting or complete a residency approved by the American Physical Therapy Association. Canada requires applicants generally to have at least 1,025 hours of supervised clinical experience. The physical therapist must also accumulate 100 hours working on musculoskeletal issues, 100 hours on neurological and 40 hours on cardiorespiratory.
In the United Kingdom, prospective physiotherapists gain experience through an apprenticeship program established by the National Health Service. Apprentices may work in clinical settings while pursuing educational credentials. Norway requires candidates for certification to practice one year after graduation from a bachelor’s program in physical therapy. In Switzerland, physiotherapists must have two years clinical experience to practice independently. For those not entering into private practice, a diploma from a university in applied sciences will suffice.
Generally, physical therapists work full time, although part-time work is also available. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 25 percent hold part-time positions. The average work week is 37.5 hours in the United Kingdom.
Physical therapists typically work during regular businesses hours on weekdays.
However, depending on the setting, the shifts can encompass evenings and weekends. For example, fitness centers and sports clinics may operate during evenings and even late nights. Therapists employed by sports teams must often be available evenings and weekends during games.
Bonuses & Benefit Packages
For physical therapists in the United States, the terms of benefits and bonuses are typically set by the employer without significant government involvement. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service provides pension and other benefits. Physiotherapists covered by NHS pensions can draw beginning at age 55.
Norwegian physiotherapists in private practice can contract with a local council for annual contributions or, instead, enter into fee arrangements directly with patients. Salaried physiotherapists are entitled to occupational pension, insurance, benefits for occupational sickness, leave of absence and holiday pay. These work in establishments such as hospitals and nursing homes. In Switzerland, mandated benefits for physiotherapists and other health sector workers include at least four weeks of holiday leave per year and accident insurance covered by the employer.
An aging population and the prevalence of chronic illnesses could contribute to high demand for physical therapists and their services in these countries. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 34 percent rise in employment from 2014 to 2024. In Australia, employment of physical therapists is expected to rise significantly by 2020, continuing the trend between 2004 and 2014.
Statistics Norway projects that, by 2060, approximately 20 percent of the population will be at least age 70. As of 2014, Switzerland has four people in age 20 to 64 bracket for every person who is aged 65 or older. In fact, the nation boasted, as of 2013, a life expectancy of age 82, among the highest on the globe.
With the aging population, job openings may increase in nursing homes and skilled care centers. Positions with professional sports teams are highly competitive and likely require extensive prior experience, especially in treating athletes.
Physical therapists can find ample opportunities for employment or in private practice. Demand for their services will grow as the elderly comprise greater proportions of the population. Even where national health care systems set compensation, such as in the United Kingdom, experience or being in private practice can yield higher earnings. To get an overview of the field, you can also read about the massage therapist salary on our site.