Are Physical Therapists in High Demand?

Are physical therapists in high demand? Physical therapist assistant working

Are Physical Therapists in High Demand? The Answer is a Resounding Yes!

Are physical therapists in high demand? If you’re about to graduate or just considering a career as a physical therapist, then we have good news for you.

Physical therapists are in very high demand, with available jobs expected to jump by 21% over the next ten years.

Before we jump into the discussion, we’ve also written a guide on the differences between physical therapy and physiotherapy. For the purposes of this guide, the career outlook is essentially the same for physical therapists and physiotherapists, as the required education is the same.

This is great news for people wanting to find jobs in physical therapy, but it’s also great news for those who are already employed.

Law is one example of how oversaturation can lower wages for everyone. While lawyers used to be almost guaranteed a high salary, that is no longer the case. This is because so many people have gone to law school and passed the bar in recent years that there are more lawyers than jobs.

Of course, there are still law jobs out there that pay well, but they’re harder to find. Those that do pay well, such as big law jobs, are still able to work young lawyers to the bone and require crazy hours, simply because the supply-demand curve favors employers.

With physical therapists, it’s the opposite situation, giving physical therapists a lot of career benefits, in salary, hours, and other benefits.

First, with median annual pay over $91,000 a year, the demand for physical therapists is likely to keep salaries high.

Let’s consider another area impacted by the high demand for physical therapists—job stability.

Physical Therapist Job Stability

Physical therapists also have three great factors going for them in terms of job stability. First, there’s the expected job growth of 21% that we’ve already discussed.

The second benefit is simply working in the medical field. Oil jobs such as petroleum engineering (and the more blue collar oil jobs too) can be boom or bust, depending on the current price of oil, clean energy regulations, and a host of other factors.

Even everyday business jobs can quickly be downsized in an economic recession. With healthcare fields and physical therapy in general, job security is a lot better.

Even in an economic downturn, people are still going to need physical therapy to regain their mobility and recover from injuries and strokes, as well as to cope with long-term health situations like arthritis.

The third reason for physical therapists’ job stability is the high barrier to entry. Because physical therapists have phased out of master’s programs and into doctoral ones, it now takes a full 8 years of college for most people to become physical therapists.

The time, energy, and cost to become a physical therapist presents a high hurdle, meaning that physical therapist supply and demand isn’t likely to shift very soon.

If you’re interested in the career but can’t manage the eight years of school, you could also consider becoming a physical therapist assistant or aide. There are pros and cons to this career path, which we’re going to explore in this next section.

Are Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides in High Demand?

Yes, physical therapist assistants and aides are in very high demand, with expected job growth of 32% over the next decade.

That beats out even the growth projection for physical therapists, although at a lower median salary of just under $50,000.

It’s a lower salary, but it could be a lot worse for the required years of education (usually just an associate’s degree).

The downside for physical therapist assistants is that despite the great projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs haven’t been easy to come by lately. Let’s take a look at the reasons for this, and whether it’s likely to be a permanent or temporary challenge.

Are Physical Therapy Assistants Being Phased Out?

This is a question that’s important for both physical therapy assistants and physical therapists. This question has arisen in large part due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as fewer people went to outpatient facilities or elsewhere for physical therapy.

With lower revenue, physical therapy assistants were often the first to go, or the first to take pay cuts. With tighter budgets, healthcare providers made the most of low-salary techs along with the high-salary physical therapists, and the physical therapy assistants got the short end of the stick.

An insightful conversation on Reddit highlighted the factors that are leading to physical therapy assistant job challenges.

While most people in the discussion agreed that it was a rough job market for physical therapy assistants, a user claiming to be a healthcare business owner said it would be a short term situation:

“I own a company with over 40 locations and coach other private practices across the country. Covid is the main influence. PTAs aren’t going anywhere.

Other like u/desertfl0wer considered the shift from PTAs to techs to be a longer term shift:

“The way the techs and aides are utilized doesn’t make any sense at all to me. They don’t require a degree or license but are the ones that a lot of [outpatient] settings use to guide patients through their exercises, and patients are billed as if the PT spent that time with them.”

u/ImpossiblePT shed some light on why physical therapist assistants took the brunt of the Covid cuts, rather than physical therapists:

“[Physical therapist assistants] cannot perform evals and discharges which is what keeps the doors turning in most places, while [physical therapists] can eval, [discharge], and treat.”

It’s interesting to see how this will play out over the next decade, but it’s safe to say that an associate’s degree as a physical therapist assistant still has a high return on investment.

However, some colleges are turning to four-year PTA programs, which seems a lot more sketchy for an uncertain career. If you’re looking for job security (and potentially higher wages), you might consider nursing instead of becoming a physical therapist assistant.


As we shared, physical therapy requires a lot of time and tuition just to get into, but it’s a great field with high pay and excellent career outlooks. Are physical therapists in high demand? Yes, and they will be for the foreseeable future.

The view is a lot cloudier for physical therapist assistants, but it’s still a decent job at the least.