There is an increasing need for physical therapists in society, contributing to a bright future for the field and those within it. Now is one of the best times to be a physical therapist. Your physical therapy practice can ride the rising wave and take advantage of the field's growing popularity and demand for your services. The drivers behind this growth will likely keep the field popular throughout the rest of 2023 and into the future.
Employment, job openings, and salaries for physical therapists have continued their established rise in recent years. These increases stem from several factors that impact physical therapy growth rate. For physical therapist students and those within the field, jobs that offer competitive salaries abound.
Between 2021 and 2030, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an employment growth rate of 17%. In fact, physical therapy has an anticipated average growth rate of 15,000 jobs annually, ranking it higher than any other occupation.
The expected growth stems from the current growing demand for licensed physical therapists. In 2020, employed physical therapists numbered 220,870. Just a year later, that number rose to 238,800.
Growing demand and a rising number of job openings mean that physical therapy practices must offer competitive salaries. The average physical therapist salary in 2020 was $91,010, which increased to an average of $95,620 just a year later. As averages, these values reflect that many in the physical therapy industry may make more than these values, and some make less. The top 10% of PT earners had annual salaries of at least $127,110 as of the most recent data in 2021.
Higher demand for physical therapists leads to a positive physical therapy job outlook and salary growth opportunities. If you work as a physical therapist or run a practice, the future of your physical therapy business looks rosy.
Several factors play into the rising need for physical therapists. Because these influences include shifts in thinking, they likely will only reverse for a while. Your practice should enjoy high demand through the rest of 2023 and the foreseeable future.
The Baby Boomer generation includes almost 75 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964. In 2024, the youngest members of this group will reach 60 years of age, and the oldest will be 78. This aging group of seniors will require physical therapy for several reasons.
First, despite their advanced age, 64.4% of Baby Boomers report participating in fitness or sports. To help keep them active, they may require physical therapy to manage pain or mobility-related injuries.
Second, this generation accounts for 40% of those who get total hip or knee replacements. Those who get a joint replacement will need physical therapy to improve their range of motion and recover mobility lost.
Finally, many who may need a joint replacement in the future will try conservative methods before surgery, such as physical therapy. With a high percentage of Boomers needing joint replacement surgery, many older Americans live with pain, disabilities, or mobility issues that don't yet qualify for surgery. As a physical therapist, you'll be on the front lines to help this population to live better, healthier lives with less pain.
While Boomers account for many with chronic pain or disabilities, many others don't fall into this age group. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one chronic condition afflicts six in ten Americans. Even more concerning is that 40% of Americans have two or more chronic health concerns.
Chronic conditions can include obesity, heart conditions, cancer, and arthritis. Physical therapy allows those with these conditions to improve their quality of life while managing symptoms.
In recent years, the public, insurers, and practitioners have finally begun to embrace the benefits of physical therapy. Thanks to insurance plans providing more coverage, physical therapy has become accessible to many more people.
Plus, many studies link physical therapy access to lower opioid use, which could reduce the need to prescribe these powerful drugs and mitigate issues with the American opioid crisis. For example, a study showed an 89.4% lower likelihood of needing opioids for lower back pain among those with physical therapy as a first-line treatment.
With more awareness of physical therapy's inherent benefits to patients, more people seek out this service for various conditions.
Developments within the physical therapy field have helped to improve care delivery. For instance, telehealth and remote therapeutic monitoring allow physical therapists to reach patients in their homes, removing the transportation barrier and physically assisting patients to their treatment.
Other advancements in physical therapy include new treatment modalities. Physical therapists improve their effectiveness in evaluating and treating patients. With the newest treatment delivery methods, patients feel more engaged in their physical therapy program, increasing their chances of continuing the course of therapy to the end. Consequently, patients who follow their physical therapist's recommendations have better outcomes and more satisfaction. Their positive results help to spread the news of how physical therapy can improve patient quality of life and outcomes, which raises demand for the field.
With a greater demand for physical therapy jobs, current therapists may feel more pressure. Even as you look toward the future of growth in physical therapy, pay attention to your practice's existing team to help them avoid burnout and improve their job satisfaction.
Generally, most physical therapists have high job satisfaction, with even greater career and work fulfillment reported by those who had training under a fellowship or clinical residency program, according to an article from the Journal of Physical Therapy Education. But, even with high job satisfaction, burnout can happen when work and life become out of balance, or the therapists feel overwhelmed.
One way to improve job satisfaction for physical therapists is by increasing their schedule flexibility through remote work. Innovations, such as telehealth and remote patient monitoring, make remote work a viable way to prevent burnout for many physical therapists.
Physical therapy as a field continues to grow. Plus, the demand for great physical therapists and job openings will also increase in the future. Overall, being a physical therapist today offers you multiple chances for better pay, more work, and more demand for your services.
With a growing need for experienced physical therapists everywhere, running your practice will likely become more complicated. Take charge of your practice by using our practice management software. This solution helps you to save time, manage your clinic's operations, and automate the tedious processes that cause stress when done manually. Contact us for a free demo to see how much MWTherapy can help your practice.
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