Physical Therapy

Professional/Career Opportunities and Outlook

The mission of South College relates specifically to offering professional and career-focused academic programs in response to local, regional, and national employment needs and supports current workforce trends. 

Career Opportunities

More than 198,000 physical therapists are licensed in the U.S. today, treating nearly one million people every day. Physical therapists work in a variety of practice settings, to include private outpatient clinics; acute care facilities; hospitals and inpatient rehabilitation facilities; extended care, nursing home and skilled nursing facilities; schools; wellness and fitness centers; home health care; industrial or workplace environments; academic institutions; and research centers. Board certification through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) allows physical therapists to develop clinical expertise in one or more areas of practice, such as cardiovascular & pulmonary, clinical electrophysiology, geriatrics, neurology, orthopaedics, pediatrics, sports, and women’s health.

Career Outlook

According to the Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 36 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.  According to Tennessee labor statistics (, demand for physical therapists is projected to grow 23% in the same time frame, from a 2012-estimated employment of 5,150 to a 2020-projected employment of 6,340 physical therapists.   As of March 31, 2014, there were 355 online job openings for physical therapists across Tennessee, with a significant number in and around Knoxville (Knox and Jefferson counties).

The salary for a physical therapist is variable, depending on the clinician’s education, experience, specialty, employment setting, and location.  According to published statistics, the median salary for physical therapists is $80,000 per year.  The median salary for a new physical therapy graduate is $60,000.

Please visit the American Physical Therapy Association website ( for more details.


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