May 26, 2009
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  1. DDS/DMD-PhD Student
Just wanted to get an idea from some of the PTs here. My gf graduated from PT school a few years ago, and has had 3 jobs in different states since then (we've moved around for my residency and work). I'm a dentist so we know most of our income will be coming from me, but I've been very surprised by the offers she's been given. She loves kids and works as a pediatric PT, and despite going into $180+k of student debt to get her degree she's making $60k. This seems absolutely abysmal to me, that someone who has a bachelors, masters, and doctorate is making less than what many make right out of college. My hygienists with associate degrees make $80+k.

It also really makes me wonder how she or anyone in her position could ever pay this off and get ahead in life. I had more debt than her coming out ($350k) but will make $200-500k through my career and will be supporting us. Once we have kids she will likely work part time, so her income is less of the equation. But I've seriously wondered what she would do if we weren't together, short of just using Income Based Repayment and praying for loan forgiveness after 25 years.

Is this common in the PT world? Are there any PTs making $100+k that aren't having to actually own their own practice? I love that she's doing what she loves and gets to work with kids, it's awesome, but it seems unfair PTs go into so much debt for that return.
 

ya1

Mar 9, 2019
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202
Just wanted to get an idea from some of the PTs here. My gf graduated from PT school a few years ago, and has had 3 jobs in different states since then (we've moved around for my residency and work). I'm a dentist so we know most of our income will be coming from me, but I've been very surprised by the offers she's been given. She loves kids and works as a pediatric PT, and despite going into $180+k of student debt to get her degree she's making $60k. This seems absolutely abysmal to me, that someone who has a bachelors, masters, and doctorate is making less than what many make right out of college. My hygienists with associate degrees make $80+k.

It also really makes me wonder how she or anyone in her position could ever pay this off and get ahead in life. I had more debt than her coming out ($350k) but will make $200-500k through my career and will be supporting us. Once we have kids she will likely work part time, so her income is less of the equation. But I've seriously wondered what she would do if we weren't together, short of just using Income Based Repayment and praying for loan forgiveness after 25 years.

Is this common in the PT world? Are there any PTs making $100+k that aren't having to actually own their own practice? I love that she's doing what she loves and gets to work with kids, it's awesome, but it seems unfair PTs go into so much debt for that return.
I work 40h a week and make low 90K. If I wanted more money and were willing to work more, I could make a couple of grand more.
I have been making 3.5 times higher than minimal monthly payments for my student loan and I will be done with it within less than 10 years after graduation. I sill contribute to savings and would not want to live in a bigger place or in a different location. SO i am fully satisfied with my life and with my finances.
My student loan was about 100K by the time I graduated.
 
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topher031888

7+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2014
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  1. Physical Therapist
It really depends on specialty and location but your gf's situation is really common. Debt to income ration for physical therapists is beyond a joke for most and to top it off Pediatrics is usually the lowest paid specialty. Appointments tend to be longer in length so overall they see less patients, appointments don't overlap so less units billed per hour, and you often work with a high medicaid population.

States like California often pay above the national average but in my experience it usually doesn't come anywhere near offsetting the higher cost of living. There are areas in Texas and Nevada that pay extremely well with a very affordable cost of living and I have friends who do quite well. I make about 70k from my primary employer Salaried at 40h per week. I do have a second job that makes me about another 7-8k. I would increase my salary by working somewhere else and there is a good chance I will do that eventually but I do love my job. I work in private practice and may eventually become a director and could make substantially more but as a staff therapist I won't make much more than I do already. I could go somewhere with much high productivity standards and make more but while being a lot more busy but even then for my area it would probably be 80-85k at most.

Thankfully I was able to get out of school with only about 60k in debt and should have it paid off in a few months (about 4 years after graduation. This allowed me to buy a home and do residency training after school, allow my wife to stay home with out kids, and still do decent financially. If I had been looking at 100K+ I probably wouldn't have gone into physical therapy. We are certainly undervalued and over-educated (if that makes sense) in regards to our actual pay. The key is that I was willing to relocated myself to a different area.

What is your plan to pay it off? Working in pediatrics she should be able to find a non-profit and jump on the 10 years public loan forgiveness while it is still around. If she is using a income based plan make sure she is aware that the forgiven balance in 20 years is considered taxable income. There has been some talk recently about this changing but as of now it is only being proposed for undergraduate loans.
 
May 26, 2009
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  1. DDS/DMD-PhD Student
Her monthly payments are quite low with IBR, so most likely planning to just let it ride and then deal with the taxes on the forgiven amount at the time of loan forgiveness....which is actually very beneficial as the total amount paid then will still be less than that of the total loan. It will also be 20+ years in the future when the value will be less in 2040 dollars. IBR wouldn't have really benefited me as my income is too high, so I refinanced to a much lower rate early on. But for her it's very useful. She'd more or less be completely dependent on me if not for IBR, and a lot of her classmates would be in a similar boat.

I definitely agree with you that for all of your education you are undervalued / underpaid.

Having said that, still better than a lot of MD routes lol. Some are coming out with 400-600k, making 150-250k working 60+ hours per week. May be a better net result financially but horrible lifestyle for that pay.
 
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