New Surveys Show Improved Job Market, Increased Income for Physical Therapists
Physical therapists are experiencing virtually no unemployment and are reporting overall increased salaries, according to a series of surveys recently conducted and released by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).
The job market for physical therapists has continued to improve since APTA’s last study in fall 2001. The current 0.2 percent unemployment rate has decreased from the 1.1 percent of physical therapists unemployed in the spring of 2001. APTA President Ben F Massey, Jr, PT, MA, said, “It’s very encouraging to see our profession persevere and thrive through the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) of 1997 [which drastically cut reimbursement for physical therapy services, particularly in the long-term care sector], an economic recession, and the financial fallout of September 11.”
APTA’s Physical Therapist Employment Survey was designed to assess trends in employment patterns, and the most recent version shows the lowest unemployment rate since data were first collected in October 1998. Also based on survey results, non-members of APTA were two and one-half times more likely to experience employment turbulence than were their physical therapist counterparts who are members of the Association. “Turbulence” was operationally defined as being currently unemployed or being currently employed but having lost a job within the past six months.
APTA’s 2005 Median Income of Physical Therapists Summary Report, a separate survey conducted among members, reviews data collected in years 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2004. The median income of physical therapists has increased by 23.6 percent between 1999 and 2004, from $55,000 to $68,000 annually, while the adjusted income (adjusted for inflation) increased by 9 percent, from $33,013 to $35,998. This increase indicates a substantial improvement in the physical therapy profession.
“These surveys indicate that the physical therapy profession is strong, and physical therapists have a bright future,” Massey said. “We’re also encouraged to see the clear relationship between APTA membership and the likelihood of employment. It is likely that the commitment that motivates an individual to join APTA also makes him or her a more valuable employee—a therapist whose skills remain on the cutting edge and more committed to the profession is more likely to be employed in trying economic times as well as when the job outlook is bright.”
APTA also conducted a membership-based profile survey to examine the demographic description of its physical therapist members. Most significantly, the survey reports 13.5 percent of the respondents have their doctorate of physical therapy or other doctorate degree, up from 3.7 percent in 1999. The survey also showed that male respondents have risen from 29.9 percent in 1999 to 32.2 percent in 2004.
The American Physical Therapy Association is a national professional organization representing more than 68,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy. Its goal is to foster advancements in physical therapy education, practice, and research.#