Physical Therapy PT

| 26 January 2024

The data in this blog is for general informational purposes only and information presented was accurate as of the publication date.

Best States for Physical Therapists [2024]

Two USAHS physical therapy student work with a female patient.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are almost 230,000 physical therapists (PTs) throughout the United States.1 Whether you’re learning how to become a physical therapist or are a practicing PT, you may wonder what the best states for physical therapists are. Depending on your situation and future goals, the criteria of what makes a state the best for a physical therapist may vary.

Below, we review various metrics to help you see which states are ideal for physical therapists. We highlight how much physical therapists make on average in each state and list the cost of living index and projected growth for each state.

Using these criteria, we’ve developed a methodology to rank the best states for physical therapists.

Table of Contents:

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

The primary job of a physical therapist is to help patients with injuries manage their pain and regain the range of motion in the injured area. Whether the injured area gets back to 100% or not, physical therapists help patients improve their quality of life.

Physical therapists work in various settings, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Inpatient rehabilitation facilities
  • Sports and fitness facilities
  • Private practices

As a physical therapist, you’re there to listen to the patients, to address their concerns and help diagnose issues by monitoring their movements. By understanding the patient’s goals, you can help provide them with exercises and stretching to help get them back to the activities they enjoy.

Key Findings

Salary is important, but it’s only one factor in identifying the best states for physical therapists. When looking at multiple data points, here are some key findings:

  • Based on our methodology, Texas is the best state for physical therapists based on average salary, projected employment growth and the current cost of living.
  • California pays physical therapists the most with an average salary of $114,230.1
  • Arizona has the highest projected growth for physical therapist jobs: 52% by 2030.2
  • The metropolitan area with the highest concentration of physical therapists is Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA, with 3.52 physical therapists per 1,000 jobs.1
  • The highest-paying industry for physical therapists is at outpatient care centers, with an average salary of $118,800.1

Key findings about physical therapist jobs.

Top 10 States for Physical Therapists

The following rankings include some states with the highest average salary for physical therapists and also consider the cost of living and expected employment growth. Of the top states, Texas is ranked in first place primarily for its projected employment growth of 28% by 2030 and average salary of $102,300. The national average salary is $97,960.1

Nevada is the second state on the list due to a high average salary of $105,880, the highest in the top 10. The third state on the list, Arizona, has the highest projected employment growth for physical therapists at 52%2 and has an average salary of $99,980. Arizona also has one of the highest costs of living in the top 10, along with New Jersey, Nevada and Colorado.3

We use our methodology to determine the following rankings, and use highest average salary as a secondary metric.

Ranking State Average Annual Salary1 Projected Employment Growth by 20302 Cost of Living Index Score3
1 Texas $102,300 28% 93
2 Nevada $105,880 31% 101.3
3 Arizona $99,980 52% 107.2
4 Alabama $97,120 21% 88.8
5 Georgia $96,670 33% 91
6 Mississippi $96,520 23% 85.3
7 Colorado $96,170 37% 105.5
8 West Virginia $93,000 35% 90.3
9 New Jersey $105,430 24% 114.1
10 Pennsylvania $97,490 20% 99

Top 5 states for physical therapists.

The 5 Worst States for Physical Therapists

It’s also helpful to know the worst states for physical therapists. The worst states have a combination of low average salaries, high costs of living and a low projection for employment growth. The worst state on the list is Maine, which has an average annual salary of $86,600 and is in the top 20 for highest cost of living.

Ranking State Average Annual Salary1 Projected Employment Growth by 20302 Cost of Living Index Score3
1 Maine $86,600 9% 111.5
2 Montana $85,530 16% 103.7
3 Maryland $96,250 18% 119.5
4 Minnesota $89,130 14% 94.1
5 New Hampshire $91,230 20% 115

Average Physical Therapist Salary by State

If you’re looking for the highest-paying physical therapy jobs, it’s helpful to look at the salaries by state. One of the best metrics you can look at is the mean annual wage, which is the average.4 The state with the highest mean annual salary is California, at $114,230, with Nevada and New Jersey coming in second and third at $105,880 and $105,430, respectively.1

State Annual Mean Salary1
California $114,230
Nevada $105,880
New Jersey $105,430
Alaska $104,470
Connecticut $103,920
New York $103,580
Texas $102,300
Washington $101,130
Hawaii $100,130
Arizona $99,980
Illinois $99,420
Pennsylvania $97,490
Alabama $97,12
Virginia $96,900
Washington D.C. $96,760
Georgia $96,670
Mississippi $96,520
Delaware $96,460
Maryland $96,250
Colorado $96,170
Oregon $96,010
Ohio $95,870
Louisiana $95,820
Massachusetts $95,780
Rhode Island $94,620
Arkansas $93,160
Wisconsin $93,010
West Virginia $93,000
Indiana $92,790
North Carolina $92,200
New Mexico $92,050
Nebraska $91,990
Kansas $91,930
Florida $91,730
Tennessee $91,630
Utah $91,570
New Hampshire $91,230
Oklahoma $91,100
Wyoming $90,910
Missouri $89,790
Michigan $89,570
Minnesota $89,130
Idaho $88,750
Vermont $88,310
South Carolina $88,170
Iowa $88,120
South Dakota $88,010
Maine $86,600
Kentucky $86,220
Montana $85,530
North Dakota $83,060

Projected Job Growth for Physical Therapists by State

Before choosing which state is best to pursue a job, it’s beneficial to understand the job market for physical therapists in each state. To find this information, O*Net puts together projected job growth for specific industries so you can assess how much the job market for physical therapists may grow by 2030.2 Arizona expects to see a 52% growth by 2030, and states like Colorado, Washington and West Virginia have an expected job growth of over 35% in the coming years.2


State Projected Employment Growth2
Arizona 52%
Colorado 37%
Washington 35%
West Virginia 35%
Georgia 33%
Nevada 31%
Utah 31%
New York 28%
Texas 28%
Iowa 27%
Hawaii 26%
Wyoming 26%
Delaware 25%
Florida 25%
Oklahoma 25%
Idaho 24%
New Jersey 24%
New Mexico 24%
North Dakota 24%
Oregon 24%
South Carolina 24%
Arkansas 23%
Massachusetts 23%
Mississippi 23%
Vermont 23%
Nebraska 22%
Alabama 21%
Kentucky 21%
North Carolina 21%
Indiana 20%
New Hampshire 20%
Pennsylvania 20%
Washington D.C. 20%
California 19%
Michigan 19%
South Dakota 19%
Virginia 19%
Maryland 18%
Tennessee 18%
Missouri 17%
Montana 16%
Rhode Island 16%
Alaska 15%
Kansas 15%
Connecticut 14%
Minnesota 14%
Ohio 14%
Wisconsin 11%
Illinois 10%
Louisiana 10%
Maine 9%

Top 5 States with the Highest Employment Levels

Projected growth is good information, but you also want to know where physical therapists work. A state with fewer physical therapists and high projected growth may indicate a good state for work. However, if the job market is oversaturated with little projected growth, perhaps consider another state.

The following data comes from the BLS:

State Number of Employed Physical Therapists Employment Per Thousand Jobs
California 24,100 1.37
Texas 16,280 1.25
New York 15,300 1.68
Florida 14,970 1.63
Pennsylvania 11,670 2.01

Top 5 Cities with the Highest Concentration of Employment

The following information from the BLS outlines the cities with the highest concentration of physical therapists in different cities. A high concentration comes from looking at the jobs in the area and how many are physical therapists. Cities with a high concentration of physical therapists may indicate demand, so it may be helpful to see if these cities are in states with high projected job growth.

Metropolitan Area Number of Employed Physical Therapists Employment Per Thousand Jobs
Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA 140 3.52
Homosassa Springs, FL 110 3.35
Las Cruces, NM 240 3.29
Dover-Durham, NH-ME 160 3.16
Missoula, MT 160 3.14

Top-Paying Industries for Physical Therapists

There are a range of industries for physical therapists, and the characteristics of a good physical therapist are beneficial for each of them. Each pays a different salary, and this list shows which pay the most on average across the country. The industry that pays the most is outpatient care centers, but you can also make a decent wage in an educational role for physical therapists.1

Industry Annual Mean Salary1
Outpatient Care Centers $118,800
Home Health Care Services $113,970
Educational Support Services $110,390
Individual and Family Services $108,100
Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities) $103,590

Best paying industries for physical therapists.

What Physical Therapists Treat

What you treat as a physical therapist may vary, but regardless of which state you live in, here are some of the common conditions PTs treat5:

  • Sports-related injuries
  • Skin conditions and injuries like burns
  • Cardiopulmonary conditions
  • Hand conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Musculoskeletal dysfunction

Begin Your Physical Therapy Education Today

If you’re looking for a career in physical therapy, start with a quality education. USAHS has over 40 years of experience as a physical therapy school and a large network of alumni. When you attend USAHS, you can choose from a variety physical therapy specialties, and our programs last between 2.7 and four years. We have Residential and Flex Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs that incorporate online and in-person learning to fit your lifestyle. To learn more about our program, request additional information today.


Our ranking system for the best states for physical therapists to work is based on three primary criteria:

  • Average annual salary
  • Projected employment growth for physical therapists by 2030
  • Cost of living index score

Each of the criteria was graded on a five-point scale and given a higher score when the data was most beneficial for physical therapists in that state. States with the highest salaries, largest projected employment growth and lowest cost of living index scores were given the highest ratings. For example, states paying an average of $100,000 or more per year received five points for the salary category. In the event of ties in the top 10, the highest average salaries were used as the primary determining factor.


  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, last modified May 2022,
  2. O*NET OnLine, “29-1123.00 – Physical Therapists,” O*NET OnLine, a state using the drop-down menu at the top of the page.
  3. World Population Review, “Cost of Living Index by State 2023,” World Population Review, last modified 2023,
  4. Diffen, “Mean vs. Median,” Diffen,
  5. Lori Smith, MSN, BSN, WHNP-BC and Ruth Eagle, “How Does Physical Therapy Help?” Medical News Today, last modified April 2023,

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