Health Therapy Career Compensation Trends

Physical therapist examining patient

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A physical therapist helps patients recover from accidents, injuries, and illnesses. Physical therapists may supervise rehabilitation or work with other healthcare professionals to coordinate treatment. A therapist assesses a patient, plans the patient's treatment program and provides comprehensive therapy that often includes a range of services including exercise, modalities, patient education, massage, and other therapeutic treatments.

Physical therapists may work with children, adults and older patients. To work as a physical therapist, you need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), for which you must have a bachelor's degree unless the DPT program is a six- or seven-year program that combines the bachelor's degree with the doctorate degree. Your degree must be from an institution accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. The average median salary for physical therapists according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2015 was $84,020. Job growth for physical therapists is expected to climb by 34 percent through 2024.

Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists are in high demand as the number of patients treated for cancer has skyrocketed in recent years. Radiation therapists require a bachelor's or at minimum an associates degree in radiation therapy from an accredited institution. Most programs offer courses in anatomy, physics, radiation therapy and related courses. Many states require professional licensing or certification, as well as credentials from an institution that is accredited by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Job growth in radiation therapy is growing faster than average at 14 percent through 2024, with the median average salary according to the BLS at a healthy $80,220.

Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists work with patients that have breathing problems, including those from accidents or injuries, and those with chronic illness including asthma. As a respiratory therapist, you will examine patients and diagnose respiratory problems, prescribe treatment, supervise treatment and provide patient education.

Respiratory therapists also supervise other techs that work to set patients up on ventilators or other assistive devices that help with breathing. To work as a respiratory therapist, most medical or healthcare clinics require an associate degree in respiratory therapy, but most will ask for additional education and training.

Many colleges, technical schools, and universities offer bachelor's degrees in respiratory therapy in addition to associate's degree training. The BLS reports the average median salary for respiratory therapists is $57,790, as of May 2015, with job growth expected to grow by 12 percent through 2024.

Occupational Therapy

An occupational therapist (OT) helps individuals recovering from illnesses and accidents. OTs are key to helping individuals regain daily living function. Many occupational therapists help their patients recover mobility, bodily function or sensation. As an occupational therapist, you will be responsible for evaluating, treating and helping patients regain independence in daily living.

Occupational therapy is an ideal career choice if you're good at encouraging others. A Master's degree and certification are necessary to work as an Occupational Therapist, as is a license to practice in the state that you wish to practice in.

The BLS reports the annual median salary for occupational therapists in May 2015 as $80,150. The expected job growth for OTs is faster than average with employment expected to increase by as much as 27 percent through 2024.

Speech-Language Pathologists/Therapists

Speech and language therapists assist individuals with speech, language, voice, and problems with fluency in speech. These problems or difficulties may be caused by an accident, disease, illness or birth defect. Many speech and language pathologists teach sign language or other languages to help their patients learn to communicate better.

A master's or doctoral degree is necessary to work as a speech/language therapist. Additional training including a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-language Pathology (CCC-SLP) available from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is necessary to practice. Speech and language therapists average $73,410 with job growth faster than average at 21 percent through 2024, according to the BLS.