The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration ranks the field of physical therapy in Arizona as the 22nd-fastest growing occupation in the state from 2008 through 2018. Predicting that the demand for therapists will grow by more than 23 percent, the department anticipates the creation of around 680 new jobs in Arizona for therapists during that time frame.
Entry-level physical therapists in Arizona made $31,673 or less per year as of 2009, according to the Arizona Workforce Informer. Across the state, salaries for physical therapists ranked 79th out of all occupations. The starting salaries for physical therapists in Arizona were nearly 40 percent below the U.S. national entry-level wages for the profession, which were $52,170 or less annually. Arizona was the third lowest-paying place for entry-level physical therapists in the United States, with only Puerto Rico and Hawaii having lower starting salaries.
The highest-paying area for entry-level physical therapists in Arizona was Prescott as of May 2009, explains the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. New therapists in the city made $61,330 per year, roughly 93 percent above the statewide rates. In Lake Havasu, entry-level physical therapists received $59,090 or less annually. Physical therapists who were new to the field in Flagstaff earned $40,910 or less per year. In northern Arizona, starting salaries were lowest in the rural areas, at $37,970 or less annually.
In southern Arizona, Tucson served as the highest-paying city for entry-level physical therapists at $54,710 or less as of May 2009. In the rural areas of southeastern Arizona, new physical therapists made $45,710 or less annually. Annual starting salaries in Yuma were $35,210 or less. The cities of Phoenix, Mesa and Scottsdale were the lowest-paying for entry-level physical therapists statewide at $29,180 or less annually. The greater Phoenix area also had the largest number of physical therapists at 1,900, roughly 69 percent of the entire physical therapy workforce.
To work as a physical therapist in Arizona, a graduate degree is necessary. Prospective therapists must attend a physical therapy program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. As of April 2011, three schools in Arizona offered accredited programs: AT Still University of Health Sciences in Mesa, Franklin Pierce University in Goodyear and Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. All three schools award a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, which requires roughly three years of full-time study to complete.
Graduates from the physical therapy programs in Arizona are prepared to work in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, schools and a variety of other locations. This makes the field of physical therapy in Arizona not only profitable, but also versatile.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, bls.gov
U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration, acinet.org
Arizona Workforce Informer, workforce.az.gov
Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, capteonline.org
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