According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2019 median pay for a physical therapist was $89,440 per year and 258,200 physical therapists are presently employed in the U.S.  The American Physical Therapy Association projects an 8% increase in employment for physical therapists over the next decade.

Clinical Specializations

There are currently ten specific areas of clinical specializations for physical therapy. These areas are cardiovascular and pulmonary, clinical electrophysiology, geriatrics, neurology, oncology, orthopaedics, pediatrics, sports, women’s health, and wound management. Current advantages of being a clinical specialist include new jobs opportunities, increased responsibility, increase in prestige in clinical and community settings, and promotion opportunities for individuals that successfully complete the specialization process.

Eligibility for all physical therapists applying for specialization includes: A current license in physical therapy in the US and a requirement of 2,000 hours direct patient care in the specialty area over the last 10 years with 25% of which must have occurred within the last 3 years. Some of the specialty areas may require more criteria such as advanced cardiac life support certification, first responder standards, and a scholarly project.  Successful completion of a national board examination and maintenance program  is required for all.

For more information go to the Specialist Certification page at the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) website.

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