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How Much Does a Sports Therapist Make a Year?

Sports therapists are a type of physical therapist who work specifically with athletes. According to the Sports Physical Therapy Section of the American Physical Therapy Association, sports therapists work with athletes to:

  • Prevent injury
  • Evaluate, treat and rehabilitate athletes who have been injured
  • Help athletes enhance their athletic performance

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job numbers in the physical therapy field are expected to grow around 36%, which is higher than the average. In addition, physical therapists in general earned a median salary around $82,000 per year as of May 2014.

What Do Sports Therapists Do?

As mentioned above, sports therapists are a type of physical therapist who works specifically with athletes. Specific job duties typically include:

  • Developing a rehabilitation plan for clients
  • Use stretching exercises, hands-on therapy, and neuromuscular education to help clients regain their strength
  • Track client progress

In addition to performing a variety of functions within their job, sports therapists can also work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Sports team
  • Sport facility
  • Individual athletes
  • Hospitals
  • Health care facilities
  • Schools
  • Inpatient rehabilitation facilities
  • Fitness centers

No matter which setting a sports therapist works in, he or she will be helping people who suffer from sports-related injuries to regain mobility and reduce pain. In addition, you can help athletes increase their performance capabilities.

Pros and Cons of a Sports Therapy Career

There are several major “pros” when you work in the sports therapy field:

  • Higher than average employment growth – 36% for all physical therapists from 2012-2022, according to BLS
  • Good salary – Median 2014 salary of about $82,000 per year
  • Many opportunities for employment – Such as with sports teams or at hospitals, schools, and fitness centers

While there are many “pros” to becoming a sports therapist, as with any job there are also some “cons”:

  • Requires about eight years of education beyond high school
  • Work involves spending long hours on your feet
  • Potentially stressful
  • Not a typical “9 to 5” job with flexible or rotating schedules

How Can I Become a Sports Therapist?

To become a physical therapist, you need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. In addition, all states require physical therapists to be licensed. To become a sports therapist, specifically, you must have a graduate degree in physical therapy. Master’s and doctoral degree programs are available, though the doctorate is more prevalent. Undergrad classes to consider taking including:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Human anatomy
  • Exercise physiology
  • Statistics
  • Calculus

Many sports therapists receive a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology or biology before pursuing a graduate degree in physical therapy. During the doctoral degree program, which typically takes three to four years to complete, students study the body’s musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. Students also perform clinical and didactic work to learn how to diagnose and apply therapeutic procedures to many different types of patients. After earning a Doctor of Physical Therapy or Master of Physical Therapy degree, students must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination to become licensed.