Sports Therapy Education Requirements

Sports therapy encompasses exercise science, athletic training and health practices in an athletic setting. Degrees for this program are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Read on to learn more about the various programs, common course topics and available certifications. Schools offering Kinesiology & Sport Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Do I Need a Degree to Work in Sports Therapy?

While sports therapy-related certificate programs are available, many employers require that you have a bachelor's degree in order to work in the field of sports therapy. For those interested in the field, the most common career is that of an athletic trainer.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (, most employers require that athletic trainers earn a master's degree or even a doctoral (Ph.D.) degree in exercise science, athletic training or sports medicine. All of these degree programs can lead to various careers in sports therapy such as conditioning coach, sports nutrition and even physical therapy. Both undergraduate and graduate programs may also be completed by those in other healthcare professions, such as occupational therapy, who wish to add a more sports-oriented degree to their educational and professional experience.

Occupational Prerequisites Most employers prefer a bachelor's degree, some request master's or doctoral degrees in related fields
Field Focus Exercise science, athletic training, sports medicine
Degree Levels Bachelor's, master's
Common Courses Nutrition, physiology, athletic training basics, injury prevention
Career Opportunities Athletic trainer, conditioning coach, physical therapy
Certifications Available Board of Certification (BOC)
Median Salary (2018) $47,510 (for all athletic trainers)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 23% growth (for all athletic trainers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Study?

Undergraduate degree programs in athletic training or sports medicine will encompass general education courses such as psychology, math and English for example, but will also teach basic principles of sports therapy. You may take classes in nutrition, anatomy and physiology and athletic training basics, such as care and prevention classes.

Graduate programs are more advanced and some may require a year-long observation program that needs to be completed successfully before you can begin your own clinical experience. A Master's of Science in Sports Medicine degree program can place you in direct contact with athletic trainers, where you'll observe how they treat athletes. Graduate-level classes may include injury prevention, musculoskeletal exercise and research methods. You will also need laboratory experience and a completed thesis before you can earn your advanced degree in sports therapy.

Can I Become Certified After College?

Certification is available for athletic trainers looking to add to their experience and meet potentially State regulated requirements. The National Athletic Trainers' Association ( states that entry-level athletic trainers should begin by obtaining certification through the Board of Certification (, in order to meet these requirements. The BOC offers training help and handbooks, as well as practice tests.

Recertification is also offered. To be eligible for recertification, you must earn your degree from an accredited program recognized by the organization and upon completion of the certification exam you will need to continue taking professional medical classes in order to maintain your certification.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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