How To Start A Career In Sports Physical Therapy

Sports physical therapy offers an exciting and rewarding career path for individuals passionate about sports, fitness, and rehabilitation. Sports physical therapists play a crucial role in helping athletes prevent injuries, recover from injuries, and optimize performance. If you’re considering pursuing a career in sports physical therapy, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

Obtain a bachelor’s degree

The first step in becoming a sports physical therapist is to complete a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as kinesiology, exercise science, biology, or athletic training. While specific undergraduate coursework may vary depending on the program, it’s essential to focus on courses in anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and exercise physiology to build a strong foundation in human movement and physiology.

Gain experience in sports settings

To improve your credentials and gain valuable experience, seek opportunities to work or volunteer in sports-related settings such as athletic training rooms, sports clinics, fitness centers, or sports teams. This hands-on experience allows you to observe and interact with athletes, learn about common sports injuries, and gain insight into the role of sports physical therapists in injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Complete a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program

To become a licensed physical therapist, you must complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). DPT programs typically require three years of full-time study and include coursework in musculoskeletal rehabilitation, orthopedics, sports medicine, and clinical practice. Clinical internships and practical experiences are integral components of DPT programs, providing opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world settings.

Obtain licensure

After graduating from a DPT program, you must obtain licensure to practice as a physical therapist in your state or country. Licensure requirements vary by jurisdiction but typically include passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). Additionally, some states may have additional requirements such as jurisprudence exams or background checks.

Gain clinical experience in sports settings

To build your career as a sports physical therapist, seek opportunities to gain clinical experience in sports settings such as sports medicine clinics, orthopedic practices, college or professional sports teams, or sports performance centers. Clinical experience allows you to further develop your skills in sports-specific assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation, while also networking with professionals in the field.