How to Become a Sports Physical Therapist (Skills, FAQs)

Become a Sports Physical Therapist

Becoming a sports physical therapist is a good option if you enjoy sports and are looking for a profession that doesn’t include playing the game.

Research shows that white people comprise the vast majority (72.3%) of the sports physical therapy workforce.

Asians comprise 12.4% of the sports physical therapy workforce, whereas Hispanics and Latinos account for only 7.4%.

This article will explore the necessary steps to embark on this rewarding career path.

Who is a Sports Physical Therapist?

Sports physical therapists are specialized healthcare professionals who work with athletes to prevent, diagnose, and treat sports and physical activity injuries.

They play a vital role in helping athletes recover from injuries, improve their performance, and prevent future injuries.

Sports physical therapists work closely with athletes, coaches, and trainers to develop tailored treatment plans and rehabilitation programs that address each athlete’s needs and goals.

They utilize various techniques, including manual therapy, exercise prescription, and modalities such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation, to help athletes regain function and return to their sport safely.

In addition to working directly with athletes, sports physical therapists educate and empower them to take an active role in their recovery and injury prevention.

Is a Sports Physical Therapist a Good Career Path?

Yes, it is. After gaining the necessary education and credentials to practice, a career in sports physical therapy can open up various job possibilities.

Physical therapists earn an average annual pay of $81,963 across the country. Location, years of experience, and employer can all significantly impact pay.

Some therapists might earn over $100,000 annually in lucrative urban regions and facilities.

From 2019 to 2029, the field of physical therapy is expected to increase faster than average, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Jobs for physical therapists are expected to expand by 18%, faster than the average for all occupations (4%).

With a promising future in terms of employment, sports physical therapy is a field that could bring numerous job chances for those who earn the required credentials.

There will be a rising need for physical therapists specializing in sports in the years ahead.

Experts in injury prevention and treatment will be in high demand as sports and other forms of physical exercise continue to gain popularity.

Professional sports teams, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, health clubs, and fitness centers are just a few places that use sports physical therapists.

They have options, such as freelancing or opening their practice.

Sports physical therapists can move to managerial roles or specialize in treating either young or elderly athletes, depending on their level of education and training.

Requirements for Becoming a Sports Physical Therapist

Becoming a physical therapist specializing in sports takes a lot of schooling and experience.

Some schools provide streamlined routes to both a bachelor’s and a doctor of physical therapy, cutting down on the time it takes to complete both degrees.

A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree is required, and this can be earned in as little as three years after a bachelor’s degree.

Courses in anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology are often required as prerequisites for Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs.

Internships and voluntary work in a clinical setting are great ways for students to demonstrate their interest in and commitment to the area.

How To Excel As A Sports Physical Therapy

Being a successful sports physical therapist requires unique abilities and traits.

1. Communication Skills:

Sports physical therapists must have excellent interpersonal and communication skills to offer athletes, coaches, and other medical staff the best care possible.

To diagnose injuries, create treatment plans, and make educated decisions about an athlete’s recovery, they must also have strong problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

2. Physical Fitness:

Physical therapists specializing in sports should have an in-depth knowledge of human anatomy, biomechanics, and exercise physiology to create effective rehabilitation programs.

Therapists can better relate to players and understand the demands of different sports if they are physically fit and passionate about sports.

How To Become a Sports Physical Therapist

1. Obtain A Bachelor’s Degree:

To enter the field of sports physical therapy, one must first have a bachelor’s degree.

Finding a curriculum that provides relevant studies in areas like biology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, physics, and psychology is crucial.

Some colleges/universities also offer pre-physical therapy programs that provide a solid foundation for aspiring sports physical therapists.

It’s essential to keep your grades up and get some hands-on experience in a clinical setting during your college years.

This will enhance your application when applying to DPT programs and give you valuable exposure to physical therapy.

2. Take the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program:

After you finish your bachelor’s degree, you should apply to a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) school.

Researching and choosing accredited programs that align with your career goals and interests is essential.

The application process typically involves the following:

When you enroll in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, you’ll take courses and participate in clinical rotations that deepen your understanding of everything from musculoskeletal to neurological to cardiopulmonary to sports-specific rehabilitation.

3. Go for Internships:

Internships and clinical rotations are commonplace in DPT programs, giving students valuable hands-on experience.

Students benefit greatly from these opportunities because they give them direct access to practicing physical therapists and allow them to gain vital hands-on experience.

After finishing their Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, some students enter a residency program focusing on sports physical therapy.

Taking part in a residency program for sports physical therapy can help you get hired and advance in your career.

4. Obtaining Licensure and Certification as a Sports Physical Therapist

Getting your physical therapy license is the next logical step after finishing a doctoral program and getting clinical experience.

Passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), given by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT), usually is necessary to get a license in physical therapy.

Jurisprudence tests and criminal record checks may be extra necessities in some states.

Additional certifications beyond those needed for the license can be a plus when looking for a sports physical therapist.

Physical therapists who have completed specialized training and have passed a certification exam can earn the Sports Certified Specialist (SCS) credential from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).

5. Continuous Learning in Sports Physical Therapy

A dedication to lifelong learning is necessary to keep one’s knowledge and abilities current in sports physical therapy.

They may also further their education and get sports medicine, strength, conditioning, or manual therapy credentials.

Sports physical therapists can better serve their patients and the athletes they work with if they devote time and money to continuing their education and learning new techniques.

FAQs on Becoming a Sports Physical Therapist

What do physical therapists do?

Physical therapists evaluate patients to tailor individualized plans of care that will help them regain mobility, lessen or manage pain, recover function, and avoid disability. The work of physical therapists can have far-reaching effects.

Is physical therapy suitable for sports?

Physical therapists help injured athletes recover their strength and mobility by using a variety of workouts, stretches, and other procedures. It also aids in pain management and prevents further injury.

Do physical therapists help with exercise?

A physical therapist may help you optimize your workout routine by advising you on the best moves, how much to do, and how to go from one to the next. A physical therapist’s expertise in movement allows them to advise patients on the best ways to train and prevent injuries.

How long is physical therapy?

30-minute to one-hour commitment. 


To succeed in sports physical therapy, one must be enthusiastic, committed, and willing to expand their knowledge constantly.

Aspiring athletes, by completing the necessary schooling, clinical experience, license, and continuing education, physical therapists can turn their love of sports into a rewarding career.

Awesome one; I hope this article answers your question.

Editor’s Recommendations:

If you find this article good, please share it with a friend.

You May Also Like