How to become a sports therapist

Written by susan breen
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How to become a sports therapist
Sports therapists help athletes train. (the athlete series image by csaba fikker from

Sports therapists are a special type of physical therapist who work with professional and amateur athletes. They help rehabilitate injured athletes, assist athletes in preventing injuries through proper training and other techniques and help athletes become more competitive. Many sports therapists have master's and doctoral degrees. Sports therapists typically work for professional teams, health and sports clubs and schools.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Play sports in high school. Sports therapists work with professional and amateur athletes and a knowledge of sports is assumed. A sports therapist will want to be in good physical shape.

  2. 2

    Choose a college that offers a sports therapy or physiotherapy major. Required courses might include anatomy, chemistry, physics, psychology and physiology. You'll need to earn a bachelor of science degree.

  3. 3

    Do an internship. Practical training is an important part of becoming a licensed sports therapist. At Boston University, for example, which has a sports therapy program, students are assigned internships at sports teams, hospitals and medical offices.

  4. 4

    Get a state license to practice physiotherapy. This is done by taking a test administered by state boards. Different states have different requirements.

  5. 5

    Consider graduate school. The American Physical Therapy Association anticipates that by 2020, physiotherapy will be provided by doctors of physiotherapy and that they may be board-certified specialists A growing number of schools are offering master's and doctoral programs in sports therapy. These degrees take from six to nine semesters.

  6. 6

    Earn sports therapy certification from the APTA. Awarded to those who have advanced knowledge of the field, the requirements for certification are demanding. Candidates must be licensed to practice physiotherapy and have 2,000 hours of clinical practice in sports therapy. Candidates must also take a test.

Tips and warnings

  • When looking at colleges with physiotherapy programs, ask what percentage of its students pass the licensing exam.
  • It's not necessary to have a bachelor's degree to go into the field of sports therapy, only to become a therapist. Jobs as assistants are available to high school graduates.
  • Make sure whichever college program you pick is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physiotherapy Education (CAPTE). Otherwise you won't be able to take the licensing exam.

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