Physical Therapist Salary: Is it Worth the Debt of Student Loan?

In case you’re going through your options and considering which of their pay is more attractive. Let’s touch on what a physical therapist salary looks like and compare it with your possible student loan debt. Let’s dive in!

Physical Therapist Salary

Overview of Physical Therapy

The field of physical therapy has increased in popularity over the years. The future of the occupation looks bright as well.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the employment of physical therapists is expected to grow 28% from 2016 to 2026.

Therefore, it is important to note that the annual physical therapist salary varies from one state to another.

Physical Therapist Salary for Each State

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics, as of 2018, the average annual wage of physical therapists is $88,880. However, physical therapy salaries aren’t this high in every state.

In some states, the average annual income is as much as $10,000 less. Depending on where you live, your income as physical therapy will vary in accordance.

Below you’ll find the full breakdown below of where physical therapy incomes are the lowest, and where their incomes are the highest.

State2019 Mean Annual Wage
District of Columbia$89,750
New Hampshire$82,880
New Jersey$97,770
New Mexico$97,210
New York$87,470
North Carolina$87,560
North Dakota$78,120
Rhode Island$83,850
South Carolina$85,450
South Dakota$76,200
West Virginia$89,420

Factors Affecting Physical Therapist Salary

Physical Therapist Salary

It is also important to note that some factors also affect your physical therapists’ salary other than just your location. These are a listed few;

1. Taxes

When calculating a physical therapist’s salary, note this. Always remember those earnings are going to be taxed. That leaves us with an actual difference in salary.

So we’re talking about you having an extra income to pay off the extra in student debt. However, doesn’t seem like a bad deal on the surface.

2. Interest

What still hasn’t been taken into account yet is interest cost. When looking at physical therapists’ salaries, consider the interest rate.

Many student loan borrowers spend 20 to 25 years paying off their massive loans. And interest will continue to accrue each year they are not paid off.

3. Delayed investments

Another thing to consider is the investments. This can be like homeownership. Also, it can be like 401(k) contributions. You might delay because of the limited cash flow your student loan payments will cause.

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Is Physical Therapist Salary Worth the Debt of Student Loan?

Physical Therapist Salary

When it comes to whether or not a physical therapist salary is worth the student loans, there are three factors that need to be considered:

  • Cost of the D.P.T. program.
  • Location of employment.
  • Type of job

1. Cost of the D.P.T. program

The best way to increase the chances that your physical therapy salary will be worth the debt is to decrease the cost of your education.

As with most degrees, please note. The cost of DPT programs depends largely on where you go to school.

When looking at physical therapists’ salaries, consider this. There’s a huge disparity between the average annual tuition of D.P.T. programs at the state versus private schools.

  • Public in-state: $14,427 (range: $3,387 to $45,340)
  • Furthermore, public out-of-state: $29,157 (range: $8,425 to $65,156)
  • Private: $31,716 (range: $19,500 to $94,020)

If you’re looking to begin a D.P.T. program, take note. Always check to see how much it would cost to enroll in one of your state schools. There are many high-quality state schools that offer D.P.T. degrees. They offer for less than $45,000 in total.

Also, if you happen to live in a state that doesn’t have a public university with a competitive D.P.T. program, take note. Enrolling in another state’s university could still save you money over a private school.

2. Location of Employment

When looking at physical therapists salary, consider this. The second key factor that will determine whether becoming a physical therapist makes sense financially is where you decide to start your practice. A physical therapist starting salary in the best-paying states could be higher than what 10-year veterans make in lower-paying areas.

California, for example, has long been one of the best places for physical therapists to work. For instance:

  • The average physical therapist salary in California is $95,500.
  • Also, California has the highest employment level for physical therapists.
  • The highest-paying metropolitan area in the U.S. for physical therapists is Merced, California.

When looking at physical therapists salary, consider this. Texas is another great place to practice physical therapy. Currently, the average physical therapist salary in Texas is nearly $96,000. And remember, Texas has no income tax.

On the other hand, New York pays a middle-of-the-road average physical therapist salary of $84,500. That’s not terrible. But New York is also the state with the third-highest cost of living.

3. Type of job

The actual job you choose inside physical therapy can make a big difference in the return you receive from your student loans.

For example, physical therapists who own their own practice could make significantly more than the national average of $87,000.

Physical Therapist Salary

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In a Nutshell

Becoming a physical therapist is a very sound choice. Physical therapist jobs in the United States are expected to grow 25% through the year 2026, more than the average for all occupations.

Also with an increase in focus on fitness and exercise, physical therapists can also expect to see an increase in patients through sports-related injuries.

Finally, physical therapists are necessary for populations of all ages. The salaries vary by country, but the job outlook is generally favorable.

These professionals are expected to continue their education and enjoy a low-stress job with the opportunity for full-time employment.

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