What’s a good Physiotherapist salary in 2023? From new grads to experienced Physios [6min read]

For new Physios in Australia, thinking “what’s reasonable for a Physiotherapist salary?” seems to be common.

Asking friends, colleagues and employers 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 at your next job interview or pay negotiation?

So we put together a list of all the different conditions and the relative pay rates, from private Physio salary options to public awards.

Keen to earn a little more or kickstart a mini-business on the side? We’ve got 8 cracking ideas for Physiotherapists to diversify their interests and earn some spare cash in the process (opens in new tab).

This information comes from surveys, published pay rates and common expectations in the Physiotherapy industry in Australia.

We’ll cover:

  • Current Physiotherapist salary/state award for the Public sector
  • Current Physiotherapist salary in the Private sector
  • Different pay set up systems and private Physio salary options
  • Options for supplementing a Physiotherapist salary

Ready to be an industry leader?

In the 1990s, having a clinic website showed potential clients that you’re at the leading edge of the industry.

Well, times have changed and it’s become harder to differentiate yourself from other local practices.

Have you thought about an app for your clinic?

An app is more than just a website on a phone. It needs to offer advice, where and when clients need it.

We designed this app, on Android and ios, for a Sydney-based Physiotherapy clinic. It offers on-the-spot injury triage as well as online bookings.

After a rolled ankle, there’s no “give it a week and see” approaches. No Dr Google searches. It’s straight to the app from their Physio.

After answering a few simple questions, the app provides a provisional diagnosis and recommendations. It offers a booking link on the spot and directions to the clinic (or nearest hospital if it’s an emergency).

It’s advice, for clients, from their trusted Physio, when they need it most.

Physio clinic app for Android
physio clinic app download
What's a good Physiotherapist salary in 2023? From new grads to experienced Physios [6min read]

Current Physiotherapy award for public hospitals

Physiotherapist salary award rates in public hospitals are set by each state government and typically rise in July each year (for most states) with a 2-4% CPI increase.

The state-based Public hospital pay system is divided up into levels based on responsibility, experience and role, with corresponding increments in Physiotherapist salary as you move up levels and years.

As a general 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 straight out of uni.

Every full-time year, you’ll progress up a year. If you were part-time, your increments might be annual or they might be based on when you accrue the equivalent hours of a full-time Physio.

Once you reach Level 1 Year 4, you’ll automatically progress to Level 2 Year 1.

After you reach Level 2 Year 4, that’s the end of your automatic increments (increases in level/year and pay based on calendar year).

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.

Level 3 positions typically involve some supervision of level 1 or 2 Physiotherapists and/or students (the Physio that supervised you on your uni clinical placements were level 3 or level 4).

Pay rates

So for a new grad in New South Wales (where this website is based), you’ll start off with a Physiotherapist salary of around $67k (minimum award) in your first year.

The exact figure will be slightly more based on any penalty rates that get added throughout the year.

(As a comparison, you’d start on $79k in the Queensland Health system).

With yearly growth and increments, you’ll hit a Physiotherapist salary of $79k in your 4th year (although that amount will grow with CPI so by the time you get there, it’ll be a little more than that).

(Queensland Health equivalent for a 4th year Physiotherapist would be $93k).

Stick with the public system and your annual salary grows to $97k in your 8th year (minimum award).

(An 8th year Physiotherapist in Queensland Health is on around $110k).

(Note that each of those figures will actually be larger by the time you reach them, as they receive a CPI increase each year).

In NSW, if you move on to a Level 3 role your pay jumps from $97k as a Level 2/Year 4 to $105k+ as a Level 3/Year 1 (it’s a ~$8k jump in salary to add supervision to your role).

And for those with aspirations to be the head of a public hospital Physiotherapy department one day, you’ll start on around $125k and up.

This figure depends on the size of the department and typically only offers an increase in your 2nd year in the job, then you stay on that level until your department grows or you move to a bigger one.

As mentioned, every state sets their own minimum award rates.

For the full NSW State Physiotherapist Salary/Award pay rates, click here and head for page 15 (last page).

For Queensland Physios, your Physiotherapist salary award rates are found 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 (note that many positions are on 12 month rolling contracts now, depending on the area and level of the position).

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.

Looking for the best online CPD offerings from around the world? Check out our review of the best, most comprehensive and most cost-effective options (opens in new tab).

Current market rates for a private sector Physiotherapist salary

There are several different types of private Physio salary 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.

One point to note though – whichever private Physio job you’re looking at, make sure your professional development is being looked after (see here for details on our suggestions to get PD sorted).

Percentage based contracts

A popular private Physio salary 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% of the revenue you generate (+ super).

To put that in perspective for gross wages:

  • The average session fee for a follow up consultation is between $75-120 in 2022, depending on the facility, reputation of the clinic and duration of the session.
  • A typical full time private practice Physio will see around 40-50 patients per week.
    • The weekly caseload can go up in clinics with higher volumes (particularly if they handle Workcover and other billing types) but the rate per session will come down, so it balances out.

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 (Physio session rates typically go up 5-8% per year).

If the fee your clinic charges for a session goes up, so does your wage.

Combine the two types of increases and you’ll likely see your Physiotherapist salary increase by around 6-10% each year.

That beats the increase of 2-3% CPI for a public Physio salary.

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 in most circumstances.

Private Physiotherapist hourly rate will typically start at $34-36/hr and climb by $1-2/hr/year until you hit $48/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).

Hybrid systems

These systems vary widely and can offer different combinations of options.

You’ve got:

  • base salary + performance commission/bonus
  • wage + bonus system
  • 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.

Thinking of moving to a better job?

finding a better Physio job

Feel that your career could really take off if you found a better job?
Looking to expand your skills (and income) with a 2nd job? Or maybe some weekend work or sports coverage?

We offer a free service, anonymously matching awesome Physios with awesome jobs (your identity is always protected). The next great opportunity of your career might be searching for you right now.

Make sure that you’re moving for the right reasons – more income is good but not at the expense of work environment, job satisfaction and career development.

If you like where you are but just need more income, maybe think about adding a side gig to boost your pay. Or negotiate a pay rise with your boss to acknowledge your contribution to the clinic.

But if you decide that the grass is greener elsewhere, brush up your resume and start approaching potential employers.

National Physiotherapist Salary – minimum award rate

Underpinning the whole system, for public and private work, is a national standard for minimum wages (referred to as the “minimum award rate”).

This isn’t what you can expect to earn – it’s what you can’t earn less than for your Physio work.

The award rates are based on years of experience as well as job role, much like the public hospital system of Levels and Years.

It’s also worth noting that in this categorisation, your starting point is based on your Physio course.

A 4-year undergraduate degree kicks you off at the Physiotherapist salary of Level 1, pay point 3.

A masters-level Physio course kicks you off at the Physiotherapist salary of Level 1, pay point 4.

The other very big point is that you don’t progress up the levels per calendar year!

You move up based on a year of full time work – so if your role is 60% of a full time equivalent (FTE), you’ll move up a pay point every 20 months (12 months divided by 60%).

Minimum wages look pretty grim but remember that these are minimums, not the expected earning levels.

Minimum award wage for a new grad Physiotherapist salary is $55k.

Minimum award wage for a 4th year Physiotherapist salary is just over $64k.

And minimum award wage for an 8th year Physiotherapist salary is $72k.

Remember that these are minimums, not standards or expected earnings.

You can find more details and figures in the Fair Work Australia document, in point 17.2.

Side-gigs: options for boosting your Physio income

Let’s face it: a public and private Physiotherapist salary are good without being great.

So Physios can often find themselves searching for side gigs to earn a little extra.

But the benefit of a Physio side hustle goes beyond just a little cash.

Side hustles/gigs are a great chance to explore new career directions, testing the waters without making wholesale changes to your job.

Keen to earn a little more or kickstart a mini-business on the side? We’ve got 8 cracking ideas for Physiotherapists to diversify their interests and earn some spare cash in the process (opens in new tab).

Here’s a quick list of potential side gigs (and 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 or add your name to our database of Physios looking for extra work – it’s free and anonymous.

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.

The NSW Public Sector Health Professional award rates can be found here.

In the private sector, the rate is a little more generous but there’s no “standard” hourly rate, only minimum wage rules set by Fair Work Australia.

Content generation

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.

finding a better Physio job

Feel that your career could really take off if you found a better job?
Looking to expand your skills (and income) with a 2nd job? Or maybe some weekend work or sports coverage?

We offer a free service, anonymously matching awesome Physios with awesome jobs (your identity is always protected). The next great opportunity of your career might be searching for you right now.