For new Physios, thinking “what’s reasonable for a Physiotherapist salary?” seems to be common.
Asking about it, however, seems far less common.
It’s obviously a sensitive subject. You can’t just ask someone how much they earn.
But if you don’t know about anyone’s physiotherapist salary, how do you know what you can ask for?
- Current Physiotherapy salary/state award for the Public sector
- Current Physiotherapist salary in the Private sector
- Different pay set up systems and options
- Options for supplementing a Physiotherapist salary
Current Physiotherapy award for public hospitals
Physiotherapist salary award rates in public hospitals are set by each state government and typically rise each year with a 2-4% CPI increase.
The pay system is divided up into levels. As a rough guide:
- Level 1 is your starting point for new grads
- Level 3 is your supervising Physios, overseeing education of students and new grads
- Level 5+ is your department heads, depending on the size of the department
New grad Physio positions kick off at Level 1 Year 1.
Every year, you’ll progress up a year. Once you reach Level 1 Year 4, you’ll automatically progress to Level 2 Year 1.
After you reach Level 2 Year 4, you’ll need to apply for a position as a Level 3 to continue your progression up the pay scales to a six figure Physiotherapist salary.
As mentioned, every state sets their own rates. For NSW State Physiotherapy Award pay rates, click here.
Benefits of working in the Public sector
The benefits of public system work are numerous.
A generous leave allowance is a huge bonus, particularly for those who love to travel or may be planning a baby.
It also offers security if you can secure a tenured position, rather than a 12 month rolling contract.
Fixed pay increments can be a positive and a negative. Essentially your Physiotherapist salary will get a pay rise regardless of your performance.
That can also hold you back – you can work super hard and not see an additional reward, getting the same pay rise each year as your less motivated colleagues.
The education framework can also be good and bad. It provides a steady stream of education in your early years of your career.
In later years, it can become a little stale and repetitive. You’ll also spend most of your education time teaching new grads rather than furthering your own career.
Current market rates for a private sector Physiotherapist salary
In the private world, there are several different types of pay structures.
Each set up has its benefits and disadvantages. We’ll cover them below.
Each clinic tends to prefer a different model based on their structure and caseload, so the choices may not be this extensive at every job you apply for.
Percentage based contracts
A popular model for many practices is a straight percentage of revenue. You bring in $X revenue for the week, your Physiotherapist salary is Y% of that amount.
As a new grad, you can expect to start around 33-35% + super.
With each year of experience, your percentage usually creeps up by 1-2% until you hit around 45% (we’ll explain why 45% is around your upper limit in our next post on justifying a pay rise).
In addition to the small % increases each year, your Physiotherapist salary will also go up with session fee price rises.
If the fee your clinic charges for a session goes up, so does your wage. And the average increase in Physiotherapy session fees is around 5% annually.
Combine the two types of increases and you’ll likely see your Physiotherapist salary increase by around 5-7% each year.
The hourly rate
A classic, seemingly simple, pay system is the hourly rate. You are available for Y hours for patient contact, you receive Y * $X/hour + super.
This pay rate looks simple enough but it has a hidden pitfall. It almost always includes only your patient contact hours – your note writing and patient comms are not part of those paid hours.
So an 8hr work day gets 8hrs of pay but might take 10hrs once you include admin.
Rates are governed by state award rates at the bottom end but you can expect to earn more than that.
Rates typically start at $34/hr and climb by $1-2/hr/year until you hit $45/hr.
Note here that the award states that you’re entitled to an increase every full time year.
So if you work 15hrs per week, it’ll take you 2.5 years to accrue the equivalent clinical hours to a full time load so you can gain that next pay increment (but we’ll help speed that up in our post on pay rises).
These systems vary widely and can offer different combinations of options.
You’ve got base salary + performance commission/bonus.
There’s a wage + bonus system.
And then there’s retainer + commission.
Each hybrid system has pros and cons.
They often provide a minimum stable income and a smaller percentage on top of that.
It’s a nice set up in quiet times but may not offer big incentives when you’re flat out.
The exact number of the base and the commission are usually inversely related.
The higher the base amount, the lower the commission. And vice versa.
For that reason, we can’t provide any specific guidance of expected amounts.
Side-gigs: options for boosting your Physio income
Let’s face it: a Physiotherapist salary is good without being great.
So Physios can often find themselves searching for side gigs to earn a little extra.
But the benefit of a side gig goes beyond just a little cash.
Side gigs are a great chance to explore new career directions, testing the waters without making wholesale changes to your job.
Here’s a list of potential side gigs, a guide to their pay rates and what career options it can open.
Sports game coverage
Sports game coverage involves pre-game taping and injury assessment and triage.
Coverage is organised by sports-orientated private practices, so get in touch with some local practices.
Rates of pay for sports coverage depend on your role and the level of competition that you’re covering.
For a first aid role at a school or recreational game, you can expect around $25/hr.
For a team Physiotherapist role with a semi-professional team, you can expect closer to $40-50/hr.
This can look great on the resume as you’ll have experience in assessing acute injuries.
It can also lead to a career as a team Physiotherapist or in a clinical role that includes game coverage.
Weekend hospital work
Both public and private hospitals have a roster of Physiotherapists that cover weekends.
As staff become more senior they often drop weekend work, which means that these shofts are covered by weekend-specific staff.
You’ve got more chance of getting this role if you have previous hospital experience.
It pays better than weekday work as it includes weekend penalty rates – that’s typically a 25% loading on your hourly rate.
The exact public sector rate differs between states but it typically starts at $35 and goes up from there based on your experience.
In the private sector, the rate is a little more generous but there’s no “standard” hourly rate.
As a qualified Physio, you’ve got some expertise that is in demand by content providers.
Content providers are the businesses that sell written (and other) material to business websites to post as their own.
Pay rates aren’t great for content – it’s often paid per word or per article.
You’ll average around $20 per article but there’s a broad range of pay rates, from $5-100, on offer depending on your area of expertise.
It’s not consistent income but if you’re looking for a little extra to boost your Physiotherapist salary, you can spend as much (or as little) time on this side gig as your schedule allows.
Like to continue the conversation? Head over to our Facebook page.