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5 Ways NOT to Get a Physical Therapy Raise

We get it, you have a lot of student loans and your rent isn’t getting any lower. You’re looking to earn more money, and we’re hard at work on the Ultimate Guide to Negotiating a Physical Therapy Raise! While we’ve been doing our research, we’ve come across many ways to guarantee that you won’t get a pay bump, and we feel they’re every bit as important to share with our readers!

Here are the 5 Surefire Ways NOT to to Get a Raise

1. Forget to prepare

There’s nothing like sashaying into your boss’ office to ask for a raise, then not having any solid numbers to back up your case. “Hey, Sarah, I’m totally underpaid compared to my friends,” you indignantly exclaim. And? Sarah is going to look at you like you’re an impudent child if that’s how you lead your conversation. If you start comparing yourself to your friends, your boss will expect to know:

  • What do these other PTs get paid?
  • How many years of experience do they have?
  • How much training?
  • In what type of clinic/hospital do they practice?
  • How many patients do they see per day?
  • What is their PTO/benefits package?
  • In what part of the country do your friends practice?

Have you researched physical therapist salary averages in your city to see what they are? What about salaries in your particular setting? Don’t forget that you’re a new grad when deciding what you’re worth. You may have DPT behind your name, but you still have much less experience and treat much less efficiently than many other therapists out there.

Unless you do your homework in advance, and present your case professionally, don’t bet the farm on getting that raise.

2. Approach your supervisor over email or text

Come on, new grads! You’re better than that. Ask for a face to face meeting to discuss your compensation, then set a time in the near future to meet in person. Give your boss the opportunity to do his/her research about market pay before your meeting, just as you should do to plead your own case. While some may prefer the blindsided approach of just waltzing in and demanding more money, a boss will be more likely to just say NO as a defense mechanism. A text or email asking for a raise? Forget it.

3. Use personal problems as your reasons for asking for a raise

Sorry to burst any bubbles, but student loans, car payments, child support woes or other expenses simply do not count as reasons for your compensation to increase. We can pretty much guarantee that your supervisor has his/her own list of expenses, and that’s not raising his/her salary, either.

Make sure to present real ways that you add to the value of the clinic, including your:

  • skill set
  • commitment to continuing education
  • marketing endeavors
  • community outreach efforts
  • productivity achievements
  • general demeanor

4. Fake having another job lined up

If you ACTUALLY have another job lined up, and you ACTUALLY would enjoy that job (and it ACTUALLY has offered you more money), feel free to use it as a bargaining chip. In fact, if your supervisor likes you, it can truly help your cause; it gives him/her the impetus to make you a good offer to stick around. On the other hand, if you have no other job lined up, don’t fake it. Chances are your supervisor will call your bluff. They may ask you where the job is (“I…um…uh…prefer not to say,” you will awkwardly stammer) or even simply tell you to take the new job. That will make sticking around an incredibly uncomfortable experience.

If you do have another job lined up and wish to use that as leverage to increase your pay, that’s great!

Make sure that you have all your information about your total compensation package available so that you can make a fair comparison between the potential new job and your current one. If your new job pays a dollar or two more an hour, but you get a week less of paid time off, you may not really be getting a raise at all. 

5. Be unyielding

It’s very possible that your boss really wants to give you a raise and simply can’t. While some clinic owners are transparent about the financial status of the organization, others prefer to keep that information close to the vest. If your supervisor is kind and understanding and tries to work with you by providing alternative benefits, keep your mind open. Additional PTO, 401 k contributions or flexibility in your schedule can go a long way. In the future, when there’s more money to go around, your boss will likely remember your loyalty and understanding.

What about you, new grads? Did you ever make a fatal error that cost you a raise? Share your stories to spare others your plight!

About Meredith Victor Castin

Meredith is the co-founder of She is originally from Tyler, TX and attended UPenn for undergrad, before graduating with her DPT from USA (San Diego) in 2010. She has worked in outpatient ortho, inpatient rehab, acute care and home health physical therapy, and currently works as a rehab intake liaison.

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