Best Physical Therapy Schools in Florida – 2023

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

In Florida, physical therapists have been licensed to treat patients without a physician’s prescription since the early 1990s. Increasingly, physical therapists in the Sunshine State have expanded their scope of practice to include more than merely exercises intended to enhance their patients’ mobility and range of motion. Today’s Florida physical therapists offer dry needling and similarly innovative techniques that have shown real promise as analgesia and can be used as an alternative to opioids. If you’re interested in becoming a physical therapist, we’ve ranked the best physical therapy schools in Florida that can help you fulfill your goal.


What Skills and Knowledge will You Gain from Physical Therapy Programs in Florida?

In 2015, physical therapy schools in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. began to change the degrees they offer from master’s level degrees to Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degrees. The coursework leading up to the degree stayed roughly the same, however.

Aspiring physical therapists spend the majority of their time in the classroom, studying subjects like anatomy, exercise physiology, histology, kinesiology, pharmacology and biomechanics. They spend their final year doing clinical rotations that allow them to work with the types of patients they are likely to encounter once they are licensed to practice. Many schools also teach the basics of health care finance and other practice management skills since a fair number of physical therapists will end up practicing independently.

Length & Cost of Physical Therapy Schools in Florida

Physical therapy programs in Florida tak three years to complete. Your costs will run anywhere just under $28,000 if you’re a Florida resident attending a school that accepts state funding to just over $97,000 if you attend a private university.

Type of Program Length Cost
Doctoral3 Years$27,710 - $97,030


(Based on our Ranking Methodology, below are the 6 best Physical Therapy programs in Florida. The list includes both campus-based and online programs.)

1) University of Florida - Gainesville

2) University of Miami - Coral Gables

3) University of South Florida - Tampa

4) University of Central Florida - Orlando

5) Florida International University - Miami

6) Nova Southeastern University - Ft Lauderdale & Tampa



How Many Physical Therapists are Currently Employed in FL?


Where do Physical Therapists Work in Florida?

Though physical therapists work in a number of different settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, fitness facilities and home health venues, in Florida, the largest number of physical therapists (5,570) work out of private offices. As a physical therapist in an office, you’ll use the information you glean from patient histories and physical exams to form a diagnosis. Then, you’ll develop a treatment plan that’s designed help your patient attain optimal physical function. In many instances, you’ll also spend a few sessions helping your patients learn how to perform the physical exercises you’ve recommended correctly.

Slightly more than 3,640 physical therapists work in hospitals where they’re an important part of rehabilitation teams that also typically include physicians, nurses, occupational therapists and speech pathologists. Another 1,660 physical therapists do home visits, focusing on patients who’ve recently had hip or knee replacements, or working with patients who are recovering from strokes. Nearly 900 physical therapists in the Sunshine State run their own private practices while an equal number work with elderly or recovering patients in short-term and long-term nursing care facilities.

Industry Number of Medical Assistants
Offices of Physical Therapists5,570
Hospitals; State, Local, and Private3,640
Home Health Care Services1,660
Offices of Physicians960
Nursing Care Facilities700

What is the Average Salary of a Physical Therapist in Florida?

The average physical therapist salary in Florida is $91,730. Physical therapists are in hot demand, so physical therapists working in hospitals, nursing facilities and physicians’ offices often enjoy top-tier benefits like health insurance, paid leave and options for retirement savings. Physical therapists who work 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. can also expect to be compensated with swing shift differentials.

Type Salary
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Salary Based on Years of Experience

Years of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
Less than 1 year (Starting) $28.51 $4,940 $59,300
1-4 years $38.50 $6,670 $80,080
5-9 years $45.67 $7,920 $95,000
10-19 years $49.34 $8,550 $102,630
20 years or more $60.22 $10,440 $125,250
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Physical Therapist Average Salary Comparison: Florida vs. National

Physical therapists in the Sunshine State make slightly less than the national average. This reflects the fact that the cost of living in many parts of Florida is relatively low when compared with the national mean.

Florida National Difference
Number %
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Job Outlook

By the year 2025, it’s projected that nearly half of Florida’s population will be 45 or over. Aging populations are typically the ones that are most in need of medical care that restores and maintains mobility. Thus, the demand for physical therapists in the Sunshine State is estimated to grow by just under a third by the year 2030.

Employment Employment Growth (2020-2030)
2020 2030 Number Percent
(Source: careeronestop)

Annual Job Openings

New Replacement Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
(Source: careeronestop)

Metro Wise Employment & Salary Data

The Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach area is the most densely populated part of Florida with a total population of approximately 5.5 million, so it’s not surprising that this region also has the Sunshine State’s highest concentration of physical therapists. The Miami area is home to such nationally recognized health care facilities as University of Miami Hospital, Mount Sinai Medical Center and West Kendall Baptist Hospital, all of which offer superb rehabilitative care. Rehabilitative care depends heavily on the skills of physical therapists. The same logic holds true for the Tampa/St. Petersburg and Orlando metropolitan regions.

While the area around Sarasota is not one of the most populous parts of Florida, it is among the most affluent. physical therapists in North Port/Sarasota/Bradenton make several thousand dollars more per year than physical therapists working in the Miami metropolitan area.

Metro Employment Average Salary
Hourly Monthly Annual
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 4,560 $42.11 $7,300 $87,580
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater 2,370 $46.29 $8,020 $96,270
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford 1,470 $45.58 $7,900 $94,800
Jacksonville 1,130 $44.49 $7,710 $92,550
Cape Coral-Fort Myers 780 $43.77 $7,590 $91,030
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton 660 $45.66 $7,910 $94,970
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville 390 $45.22 $7,840 $94,060
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent 350 $43.60 $7,560 $90,690
Gainesville 340 $41.71 $7,230 $86,750
Port St. Lucie 340 $44.26 $7,670 $92,050
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach 330 $42.68 $7,400 $88,770
Lakeland-Winter Haven 270 $45.46 $7,880 $94,550
Tallahassee 220 $42.35 $7,340 $88,080
Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island 210 $46.97 $8,140 $97,710
Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin 180 $44.38 $7,690 $92,310
Ocala 160 $42.17 $7,310 $87,720
Punta Gorda 160 $42.39 $7,350 $88,180
Sebastian-Vero Beach 130 $45.76 $7,930 $95,180
Panama City 120 $44.24 $7,670 $92,010
Homosassa Springs 110 $41.13 $7,130 $85,550
The Villages 80 $46.81 $8,110 $97,350
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Useful Physical Therapist Organizations & Associations in Florida

Florida Board of Physical Therapy

The Florida Board of Physical Therapy is the physical therapist oversight agency in the Sunshine State. This board establishes guidelines for the issue and renewal of licenses because unlike many other states, Florida has not enacted legislation that defines the scope of physical therapist practice within the state.

Florida Physical Therapy Association

The Florida Physical Therapy Association is a professional organization that holds networking events and provides other networking opportunities for members. It also sponsors a number of continuing education classes that members can use for license renewals.

Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.

Physical Therapy Schools in other States

  • Georgia