I received a voice mail the other day from a therapist interested in opportunities through our network. The first question this person had was certainly not unique; in fact, it’s the first question that nearly everyone asks: “How much will I be paid?”
And knowing therapists like I do, I’d be willing to bet that those that don’t ask first about pay rates and benefits, they’re thinking it, and are just too darn nice to ask. And until now, we’ve been too darn stubborn to freely offer. ;) So, here goes nothing!
Therapist: “How much will I be paid?”
Answer: “It depends.”
Now, understand that I’m not just trying to be vague, but those in the industry are aware that certain factors may dictate the answer. Here in Missouri, where we conduct the majority of our business, I can tell you what range that will be, but not until later.
First, let me explain how the hourly wage of a contract therapist truly does depend upon several factors:
- The location. Take Missouri, for example. If you’re in Kansas City or St. Louis, your hourly wage will be lower due to saturation. I promise.
- The setting. I think most would agree that home health has the highest salaries among therapists, but in the same breath, not all therapists enjoy the home health environment. Ironically, a close cousin to home health, outpatient rehabilitation is likely near the bottom of the scale, with the other physical therapy settings falling in between.
- Experience. An experienced physical therapist is obviously going to yield higher pay. In theory, they should be able to walk into most situations and function with little orientation. That doesn’t mean a recently graduated physical therapist can’t work as a contract or PRN therapist, but it likely means they would immediately make less than their more experienced peers in the field.
- Tax Status. Yep, that’s right – tax status, which is something I’m guessing was not covered in physical therapy school. If you’re a physical therapist acting as an independent contractor (1099), then you will simply make more money – usually at least ten percent more on an hourly basis. And you can keep even more of this additional income if you choose to incorporate yourself.
So here are a few take-home points for those therapists looking to maximize their income in order to pay off those ginormous school loans, which is what I would do if I was a PT. Work as a 1099 independent contractor physical therapist in the rural part of Missouri for one or more home health agencies. I have seen multiple postings online where individuals in this case are easily making upwards of $100,000 annually. And trust me, I have friends in Illinois doing the same thing as well.
Now, for those of you still wondering what you can make as a PRN or Contract physical therapist, here you go…and hopefully you didn’t just skip to this part ;). In Missouri, your hourly range will likely range from $40 to $55 per hour, depending upon….well, you know.
Is this right on? Have I missed anything? Is anyone experiencing higher PRN rates that hold a DPT? Let me know how this has helped you in your decision of whether or not to do PRN work. It will likely help others to decide as well.