How much does a physical therapist make in a year? Not enough, you’re probably thinking. And you would be right.
After all, to make money, you have to spend money, and for physical therapists, that means paying for continuing education coursework every couple of years, an expense that obviously eats into one’s profits. In fact, while many people probably think of a physical therapist as rich, the average PT’s salary is pretty firmly middle class, between $76,000 and $90,000 a year.
So if you’re a physical therapist trying to make more money, we’ll lay out your situation — and what we think your revenue-earning strategy should be.
A common scenario for a physical therapist.
Every state has different continuing education requirements for PTs.
Just to give you a taste of how similar and yet different it is in various states throughout the country: In California, you’re required to take 30 contact hours or 3.0 CEUs during their license renewal period, and in Ohio, it’s 24 CEUs. In Montana, you need 30 hours of continuing education every two years. In South Carolina, it’s 3.0 CEUs every two years, and at least 15 contact hours of the three 3.0 CEUs must be obtained through the completion of certified activities. In New York, you have to complete 36 hours of continuing education coursework in a three-year period.
As you know, if you’re a PT reading this, the expense all adds up to thousands of dollars a year to continue your education and keep your license – and because you know the importance of continuing education, you wouldn’t complain about it in the least if you made more money. In fact, as you’ve no doubt noticed, you’re making less money than ever. Starting in 2021, Medicare reduced physical therapy rates by 9 percent, and in 2022, a proposed rule would mean that when a PT gives 10 percent or more of therapy to a patient, there will be a 15 percent reduction in rates.
You need a strategy to make more money.
Instead of throwing up your hands and deciding that there’s nothing to be done about your current financial situation or vowing that you’ll just have to work harder, you really should work smarter.
As you know, if you’ve spent any time on our website, we think you’d do well to invest in a HODs membership. For one, a Hands-On Diagnostics member physical therapy practice isn’t your typical conventional PT practice. Because a Hands-On Diagnostic physical therapy practice also offers diagnostic services, a physical therapist’s staff can send billing codes to insurers that are far higher than typical, conventional treatments.
Diagnostics for physical therapy is better for the patient — because it improves your odds of an accurate diagnosis. That’s why insurers accept higher billing codes for diagnostic testing. In fact, many Hands-On Diagnostics members bill around $550 per diagnostic session — as opposed to the $70 to $100 per session that a typical PT practice will bill for. In fact, many PTs earn five to 10 times more than they were with their old practices.
Where to find high-quality PT CEU training?
Of course, you may think to yourself, “Well, fine, I will bring diagnostics training to my practice, but then I have to find somebody who offers PT CEU training for that. But where?”
Fortunately, you don’t have to look far. Hands-On Companies and its affiliates offer industry-leading continuing education coursework. And while the price isn’t free (we wish we could do that, but we’d go out of business fast), the training will, again, allow you to have a clinic with a much fatter profit margin than you would otherwise. As with any training, this is an investment — in yourself.
We offer classes, both in-person — in classrooms across the country — and online.
We currently have over 30 courses. If we described them all, we’d be here all day, and that’d be silly, anyway, since you could look at most of them here (the telehealth physical therapy class isn’t on this list, but you can register here).
We’ll give you a rundown of one of our most popular CEUs, though, just to give you a sense of what’s out there.
Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Imaging Certification.
For those who don’t know, musculoskeletal ultrasounds are imaging modalities that use sounds waves to take photos of muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments throughout the body. It’s approved by the FDA and helps evaluate and diagnose sprains, strains, tears, and other soft tissue conditions. It’s also safe (we hope that goes without saying) and noninvasive. In this coursework, you’ll get hands-on training, learning how to take an ultrasound of just about every part of the body, from the shoulder to the elbow and the hip and the knee, among other things.
Some of the topics we’ll tackle include:
- Normal sonoanatomy.
- Image optimization and orientation.
- Image interpretation algorithm.
- Systematic protocols for shoulder, elbow, hand/wrist, hip, knee, foot/ankle, and lumbar spine.
- Exposure to handling the ultrasound transducer.
The class is taught by Dr. Konstantine Rizopoulos, PT, DPT, MCMT, RMSK. With Dr. Kostopoulos, he successfully established and managed the Hands-On Companies, a consortium of companies in the areas of Physical Therapy, Diagnostic Testing, and Education. During his extensive experience in diagnostic testing and manual therapy, Dr. Rizopoulos has treated more than 100,000 patients over the last 30 years and performed thousands of ultrasound diagnostic tests. He has also co-authored several books with Dr. Kostopoulos, and numerous articles for professional journals.
Spend money to make money.
It may be counterintuitive that to make more money as a physical therapist that you have to spend money. But that’s how it is with any business. If you own a taco food truck and are making enough to invest in a second taco food truck, you do — and then eventually you buy a third taco food truck and a fourth — unless you want a certain level of growth and no more.
It works the same with physical therapy — and your patients. If your patients don’t want to improve their joints, and if they’re cool with just sitting on the sofa and never being very mobile, they can do that — or they can carry out their treatments and improve their body.
Meanwhile, if you’re a physical therapist with a practice, and you’re happy with your patients and life and are perfectly okay with Medicare cutting your profits or adding hours to your schedule to try and fit more patients and billing in, then… maybe then you shouldn’t invest in a membership and additional training.
Taking your physical therapy practice to the next level is, in the end, a personal decision as much as a business one. It may or may not be the right personal decision for you, but we think for many physical therapists, it’s a very smart business decision. So how much does a physical therapist make in a year? Not enough, for many physical therapists, but it doesn’t have to be that way.