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Physical Therapist

Earnings Potential

  • Physical Therapists typically earn between $36,254 and $85,913 per year ( 
  • Assistant Physical Therapist earn between $27,088 and $66,422 per year (

Facts at a glance

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a job growth of 27% or more for Physical Therapists through 2014 (USDL).
  • CNN Money ranks Physical Therapy #12 on its list of the 50 Best Jobs in America, and projects a 36.74% increase in job growth over the next 10 years.


Summary of what this career entails

Physical therapists help patients suffering from injuries or illness to restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities.  They help to restore, maintain, and promote overall fitness and health. Physical Therapists test and measure the patients’ strength, range of mobility, balance and coordination, posture, muscle performance, respiration, and motor function. They determine patients’ ability to be independent and reintegrate into the community or workplace after injury or illness.

Examples and or details of work

The American Physical Therapy Association reported in its Nov. 1 issue that researchers at Emory University found a 34% improvement in arm motor ability and use in stroke patients after Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT).  This is according to a randomized controlled trial published in the November 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).  Physical therapist and lead researcher Steven L Wolf, PT, PhD, FAPTA, of the Emory University School of Medicine's Department of Rehabilitation Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia and his colleagues also found that the CIMT patients showed a greater decrease in self-perceived hand function difficulty than the control group (APTA).


On October 16, 2006, the American Physical Therapy Association reported that patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) reported significant improvement after physical therapy, with the greatest improvement occurring in patients who received manual physical therapy, exercise, and a progressive body-weight-supported treadmill walking program, according to a randomized controlled trial published in the October 15 issue of the medical journal Spine (APTA).

Degrees that lead to this career

All States require physical therapists to pass a licensure exam before they can practice, after graduating from an accredited physical therapist educational program.  Useful courses for entry into a physical therapist educational program include biomechanics, neuroanatomy, human growth and development, manifestations of disease, anatomy, biology, chemistry, social science, mathematics, and physics (BLS). 

Specific Career openings in this field


American Physical Therapy Association.  “Rehabilitation Technique Improves Arm and Hand Use

in Patients Who Have Had a Stroke”.  1 Nov. 2006.  4 November 2006.


American Physical Therapy Association.  “Study Shows Patients With Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Show Improvement With Physical Therapy”.  16 Oct. 2006.  4 November 2006.


CNN  “Best Jobs in America”.  2006.  4 November, 2006. 

<>. 2000-2006.  4 November 2006.

<>. Path: Enter title; Physical Therapy Assistant; National Base Salary. 2000-2006.  4 November 2006.

<>. Path: Enter title; Physical Therapist; National Base Salary.

U.S. Department of Labor.  Bureau of Labor Statistics.  “Physical Therapist”. 4 Aug. 2006. 

4 November 2006.