This is the second article in this series, “The Right Tools for Negotiating Your Salary.” Click here for part one.
Now that we’ve discussed your value as a new physical therapy professional, it’s time to share some information about salaries in different settings and geographic locations. By the end of this article you should have a better idea of the level of salary you should expect.
Most people will start (and end) with Salary.com’s website. It’s not a bad place to start. Just keep in mind that it’s best to have a few different sources of information to determine an accurate range in which your salary should fall. Salary.com does have options to search for the salaries of PTs or PTAs in general, or in a nursing home setting. You can also search for PTs in home care. Make sure you enter your geographic location to get their most accurate estimate.
For example, the median salary for a PT in New York, NY is $87,717. By comparison, the same PT in Austin, TX would make $71,651 per year. Of course, these are median salaries, which include all of the PTs, from new grads, to those who have been doing this for a while. While it’s tempting to look at the median salary and imagine yourself with a paycheck that big, realistically, as a new grad, you should use Salary.com’s 10th percentile range. In Austin, that would be $61,341; if you’re up for a move to The Big Apple, you’ll pull in $75,095.
The next place you can check is the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The information is broken down for PTs and PTAs by practice setting and geographic area, with maps and some interesting statistics.
For example, the site gives a “location quotient,” which is the concentration of PTs working in an area, compared to the rest of the country. A high location quotient means a high concentration of PTs in the area, and vice versa. Areas of low concentration are often those that pay the highest because PTs are harder to find. This is great information if you have the freedom and the desire to move to a new location after graduation, or if you are interested in travel PT.
Again, remember that as a new grad, you probably won’t be offered the median salary. So, pay attention to the 10th percentile. The problem with the BLS website, is that you can only see the 10th percentile for the entire country, which is $54,710 for PTs and $32,030 for PTAs. Your actual mileage may vary, depending on the area of the country you live in. Again, another reason to use multiple sources of data.
For even more information, APTA members can easily stay on top of the latest salary data by checking out the Workforce Data page of APTA’s website. Here you can access information about salary data collected directly from PTs and PTAs via a survey regularly conducted by APTA. This can be a powerful source of information as you negotiate your salary. For example, no other source breaks down salary data by years of experience, degree earned and gender. The breakdown for practice setting is also more precise.
So, now you have an idea of how much you should realistically expect to make as a PT or a PTA. Next up: how to negotiate your salary. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or follow this blog via email (see below), to be sure you get the next installment of this series as soon as it is posted!