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The Best (& Worst) States for Physical Therapists in 2022

Young female physical therapist helping a smiling older female patient wearing an orange button down raise purple weights above her head.

According to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Jobs of 2022, physical therapy ranks 10th among the 2022 top healthcare jobs in the U.S. On top of having some of the highest projected job growth numbers (PT jobs are expected to grow by 21% between 2020 and 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS]), physical therapy turns out to be one of the more lucrative healthcare professions in the country as well. (As of May 2021, the average annual PT salary was $92,920.)

These metrics vary from state to state, however, which means that where you live can play a big role in how your career shapes up. To help you determine where you have the best chances for both professional and personal satisfaction, we’ve identified four key factors that contribute to states’ being considered the “best” (or “worst”) to work in as a PT:

  • Salary
  • Affordability/Cost of Living
  • Job Demand
  • Quality of Life

The Best & Worst States for Physical Therapists

For each metric, we pulled the latest data from the BLS and U.S. News & World Report. Then we identified which states ranked the highest and lowest for PTs along all four categories.

The Best & Worst States for Physical Therapists: Salary

To dig into the earning potential of PTs -- and how salaries vary by state, we looked at data from the BLS’s Occupational Employment Statistics (OES). Below are the five states with the highest PT salaries and the five states with the lowest.

Keep in mind that all BLS data reflect the employment and wage numbers for PTs as of May 2021. We'll update these tables when the BLS releases its 2022 data in May.

The 5 Highest-Paying States for Physical Therapists

Rank State Average Annual Salary for Physical Therapists Average Hourly Pay for Physical Therapists
1 Nevada $104,210 $50.10
2 California $103,510 $49.77
3 Connecticut $101,180 $48.64
4 Delaware $100,490 $48.31
5 New Jersey $99,530 $47.85

The 5 Lowest-Paying States for Physical Therapists

Rank State Average Annual Salary for Physical Therapists Average Hourly Pay for Physical Therapists
46 South Dakota $83,820 $40.30
47 South Carolina $83,270 $40.03
48 Michigan $83,160 $39.98
49 Montana $82,660 $39.74
50 North Dakota $81,480 $39.17

The Best & Worst States for Physical Therapists: Affordability/Cost of Living

Cost of living is a really important factor to consider when determining your earning potential. To help you get a more accurate picture, we’ve turned to U.S. News' 2022 affordability rankings to find out which states are considered the most (and least) affordable. To determine how affordable each state was, U.S. News gave it scores on two metrics: cost of living and housing affordability. Based on those scores, each state then received an overall ranking on a scale of 1 to 50, with 1 being the most affordable and 50 being the least.

Keep in mind that U.S. News & World Report last updated its rankings in January 2021. We'll keep updating the tables below when new data is released.

The 5 Most Affordable States for Physical Therapists

Rank State Cost of Living Score Housing Affordability Score
1 Ohio 6 2
2 Oklahoma 8 3
3 Michigan 4 7
4 Iowa 17 1
5 Missouri 3 9

The 5 Least Affordable States for Physical Therapists

Rank State Cost of Living Score Housing Affordability Score
46 Oregon 40 46
47 Alaska 48 36
48 Massachusetts 47 40
49 California 50 49
50 Hawaii 49 50

The Best & Worst States for Physical Therapists: Job Demand

When determining whether a state is the "best" or "worst" to work in as a PT, one key factor to consider is not only how much demand there currently is for your particular skill set but also how much demand there will be in the future. (You can think about this in terms of job security.)

To assess current employment levels, we looked at the most recent BLS’s OES statistics (May 2020). Next we turned to job demand projection data from Projection Central to show you the five states that are predicted to have the most job openings for PTs between now and 2028, and the five that are predicted to have the least. We’ve also provided the job growth percentages for the states as well.

The 5 States With the Highest Employment Levels for Physical Therapists (May 2021)

Rank State Employment Numbers Employment per thousand jobs
1 California 23,840 1.44
2 New York 16,130 1.86
3 Texas 14,040 1.15
4 Florida 13,220 1.54
5 Pennsylvania 10,700 1.92

The 5 States With the Lowest Employment Levels for Physical Therapists (May 2021)

Rank State Employment Numbers Employment per thousand jobs
46 South Dakota 810 1.93
47 North Dakota 720 1.82
48 Alaska 680 2.3
49 Vermont 630 2.21
50 Wyoming 570 2.2

The 5 States With the Highest Projected Demand for Physical Therapists (2018-2028)

Rank State Average Number of Physical Therapist Job Openings per Year Physical Therapist Job Growth Percentage
1 California 1,630 22.4%
2 New York 1,560 34%
3 Texas 1,150 20.4%
4 Florida 950 22.1%
5 Pennsylvania 830 20.6%

The 5 States With the Lowest Projected Demand for Physical Therapists (2018-2028)

Rank State Average Number of Physical Therapist Job Openings per Year Physical Therapist Job Growth Percentage
46 Nevada 40 31.5%
47 Idaho 40 25.8%
48 Wyoming 40 22.4%
49 Alaska 30 7.5%
50 Mississippi 10 6.6%

The Best & Worst States for Physical Therapists: Quality of Life

Everyone defines “quality of life” a little differently, so to establish a standard unit of measurement, we turned to U.S. News 2021 best states rankings — specifically its "Overall Best States" list. First, analysts ranked each state for the following eight metrics:

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Economy
  • Infrastructure
  • Opportunity
  • Fiscal Stability
  • Crime & Corrections
  • Natural Environment

Then the analysts used those sub-rankings to provide each state with an overall ranking. (You can read more about their methodology here.) Below, we've provided you with the rankings for the top five and bottom five, along with their rankings for each metric.

The 5 Best States for Physical Therapists' Quality of Life

Rank State Healthcare Score Education Score Economy Score Infrastructure Score Opportunity Score Fiscal Stability Score Crime & Corrections Score Natural Environment Score
1 Washington 8 4 4 3 25 6 19 15
2 Minnesota 16 17 15 9 2 21 10 3
3 Utah 9 10 2 3 24 5 12 49
4 New Hampshire 13 13 11 34 3 33 1 2
5 Idaho 24 29 3 10 24 4 10 12

The 5 Worst States for Physical Therapists' Quality of Life

Rank State Healthcare Score Education Score Economy Score Infrastructure Score Opportunity Score Fiscal Stability Score Crime & Corrections Score Natural Environment Score
46 Alabama 46 50 45 38 45 23 45 35
47 West Virginia 45 45 48 50 18 38 43 37
48 New Mexico 33 50 44 45 49 35 47 31
49 Mississippi 50 43 49 48 44 41 33 22
50 Louisiana 46 48 47 47 48 42 50 49

U.S. State Rankings: Affordability & Quality of Life

Use the tables below to check how your state fares on measures of affordability and quality of life, according to the most recent U.S. News’ rankings.

National Affordability Rankings (2021)

Rank State Cost of Living Score Housing Affordability Score
1 Ohio 6 2
2 Oklahoma 8 3
3 Michigan 4 7
4 Iowa 17 1
5 Missouri 3 9
6 Indiana 11 4
7 Arkansas 2 13
8 West Virginia 13 5
9 Kentucky 7 15
10 Mississippi 1 20
11 Nebraska 21 6
12 Kansas 16 12
13 Georgia 9 18
14 South Dakota 23 11
15 Pennsylvania 26 8
16 Illinois 19 14
17 Tennessee 5 26
18 Alabama 10 25
19 Wisconsin 20 16
20 Louisiana 15 23
21 North Dakota 32 10
22 Texas 14 28
23 Minnesota 28 17
24 North Carolina 12 31
25 South Carolina 18 32
26 New Mexico 24 35
27 Delaware 34 24
28 Virginia 30 34
29 Arizona 27 37
30 Idaho 22 42
31 Florida 25 41
32 Montana 29 44
33 Wyoming 32 39
34 Utah 31 45
35 Maine 39 30
36 New York 37 38
37 New Jersey 42 22
38 New Hampshire 43 21
39 Vermont 41 29
40 Connecticut 46 19
41 Nevada 35 43
42 Maryland 44 27
43 Colorado 36 48
44 Washington 38 47
45 Rhode Island 45 33
46 Oregon 40 46
47 Alaska 48 36
48 Massachusetts 47 40
49 California 50 49
50 Hawaii 49 50

Source:U.S. News & World Report's Best States 2021 Rankings (January 2021)


National Quality of Life Rankings (2021)

Rank State Healthcare Score Education Score Economy Score Infrastructure Score Opportunity Score Fiscal Stability Score Crime & Corrections Score Natural Environment Score
1 Washington 8 4 4 3 25 6 19 15
2 Minnesota 16 17 15 9 2 21 15 10
3 Utah 11 10 1 5 30 5 8 47
4 New Hampshire 13 13 11 34 3 33 1 2
5 Idaho 24 29 3 10 24 4 10 12
6 Nebraska 28 9 20 6 10 17 31 6
7 Virginia 12 12 13 39 8 18 9 19
8 Wisconsin 15 8 26 24 9 9 25 17
9 Massachusetts 2 2 5 42 36 43 4 4
10 Florida 25 3 8 20 33 8 26 18
11 Vermont 18 15 25 12 17 37 3 9
12 Iowa 20 18 27 19 1 23 14 20
13 North Carolina 30 7 17 22 28 7 20 27
14 North Dakota 27 25 32 4 23 16 18 8
15 South Dakota 29 19 30 14 27 2 35 3
16 Colorado 10 5 2 15 41 45 41 23
17 Maryland 6 14 35 38 15 29 22 11
18 Georgia 43 26 12 11 13 11 29 25
19 New Jersey 4 1 33 41 19 49 5 33
20 Connecticut 3 6 22 46 45 30 6 28
21 New York 7 16 43 30 46 20 11 5
22 Oregon 17 35 14 2 31 13 40 42
23 Delaware 14 24 24 25 14 12 39 45
24 California 5 20 10 31 50 36 28 35
25 Hawaii 2 27 46 33 34 46 12 1
26 Kansas 41 23 31 7 16 39 27 16
27 Maine 26 28 36 37 29 26 2 14
28 Missouri 42 30 23 27 4 15 45 21
29 Tennessee 40 33 16 17 21 3 42 39
30 Illinois 23 11 39 26 12 50 16 43
31 Texas 31 34 9 16 39 10 37 40
32 Indiana 32 22 21 32 7 32 24 48
33 Montana 36 32 19 13 35 19 34 24
34 Rhode Island 9 39 28 49 32 44 7 7
35 Wyoming 38 21 45 8 42 34 21 13
36 Ohio 37 21 34 29 6 24 32 44
37 Nevada 39 40 6 1 47 27 36 50
38 Michigan 35 38 29 35 5 38 30 32
39 Arizona 21 46 7 23 40 40 38 41
40 Pennsylvania 19 37 42 44 11 47 17 38
41 Kentucky 44 36 40 18 20 48 13 29
42 South Carolina 34 44 18 36 38 31 46 26
43 Oklahoma 48 42 37 21 26 25 44 34
44 Arkansas 49 41 41 43 22 14 48 30
45 Alaska 22 49 50 40 43 1 49 46
46 Alabama 45 47 38 28 37 22 43 37
47 West Virginia 47 45 48 50 18 28 23 36
48 New Mexico 33 50 44 45 49 35 47 31
49 Mississippi 50 43 49 48 44 41 33 22
50 Louisiana 46 47 47 47 48 42 50 49

Source: U.S. News & World Report's Best States 2021 Rankings (January 2021)


Nationwide Job Growth Projections for Physical Therapists (2018-2028)

State Average Number of Job Openings per Year Job Growth Percentage
Alabama 190 18.9%
Alaska 30 7.5%
Arizona 150 43.4%
Arkansas 150 23.6%
California 1,630 22.4%
Colorado 490 37.3%
Connecticut 260 13.3%
Delaware 60 22%
Florida 950 22.1%
Georgia 440 35.7%
Hawaii 70 17.6%
Idaho 40 25.8%
Illinois 620 10.3%
Indiana 340 20.7%
Iowa 150 25.7%
Kansas 140 11%
Kentucky 160 16.7%
Louisiana 50 14.2%
Maine 80 7.3%
Maryland 430 31%
Massachusetts 470 9.9%
Michigan 450 9.4%
Minnesota 310 18.4%
Mississippi 10 6.6%
Missouri 320 18.9%
Montana 70 19.6%
Nebraska 120 22.7%
Nevada 40 31.5%
New Hampshire 100 20.1%
New Jersey 540 20%
New Mexico 90 19.4%
New York 1,560 34%
North Carolina 390 14.9%
North Dakota 50 21.7%
Ohio 480 15.5%
Oklahoma 160 15.2%
Oregon 230 23.5%
Pennsylvania 830 20.6%
Rhode Island 60 10.5%
South Carolina 220 22.5%
South Dakota 60 17%
Tennessee 330 21%
Texas 1,150 20.4%
Utah 150 27.5%
Vermont 50 14.3%
Virginia 470 21.3%
Washington 760 30.3%
West Virginia 100 19.9%
Wisconsin 260 8.3%
Wyoming 40 22.4%

Source: Projections Central - Long-Term Occupational Projections (2018-2028)

Image courtesy of iStock.com/vitapix


Last updated on Apr 12, 2022.

Originally published on Apr 07, 2022.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Berxi™ or Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. This article (subject to change without notice) is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute professional advice.

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