Salary and Career Info for a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree

Sep 19, 2019

Working as a physical therapist requires significant formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure to see if this is the right career for you.

Physical therapists must have a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and pass national exams to be licensed. They assist patients with improving their motor functions in a home or clinical setting.

Essential Information

Physical therapists (PTs) are trained in rehabilitating people who experience physical trauma, disease or disability. They work with patients in hospitals and home healthcare agencies. All physical therapists must earn a doctoral degree in the field, which usually takes three years, and be licensed by the state in which they practice. Career opportunities for doctors of physical therapy are projected to rise faster than the national average for all occupations.

Required Education Doctor of Physical Therapy; internships and clinical residencies may apply
Licensing Mandatory; licensing exam proctored by the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE); additional state requirements may apply
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 22%*
Median Salary (2018) $87,930*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that as of May 2018, the median annual wage of physical therapists was $87,930, with the top ten percent taking home $123,350 or more. The BLS anticipates a 22% growth of employment in physical therapy from 2018-2028. The estimation pointed to an increasing elderly and aging population and greater survival rates in trauma victims and newborns as driving growth for physical therapists.

Career Information for Doctor of Physical Therapy Degrees

Doctors of physical therapy can work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing care facilities and schools. These physical therapists may also work with all age groups, from the very young to seniors. The primary goal of a physical therapist is to restore, maintain or develop physical mobility and wellness compromised due to trauma, disease or disability. The most commonly known physical therapy specialty is orthopedic physical therapy, but this field also includes neurological, cardiopulmonary and pediatric physical therapy.


A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) is a post-baccalaureate program that takes approximately three years to complete. All Doctor of Physical Therapy programs include intensive clinical rotation requirements, which give students hands-on experience as well as developing interpersonal skills with patients.


All physical therapists must be licensed. They are required to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), as well as fulfill additional state requirements. State requirements may involve taking an additional exam to practice within that state. To renew licensing, many states require continuing education courses. Some states might require a criminal background check and fingerprinting.

From 2018-2028 a very high rate of job growth is expected for physical therapists when compared to all occupations. Physical therapists could work home health services, nursing care facilities or hospitals.

Next: View Schools

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?