What Are the Requirements to Be a Sports Physical Therapist?

Sports physical therapists usually need to earn a graduate degree and obtain professional licensure. Keep reading to learn more about degree options and licensing requirements in this field. Schools offering Kinesiology & Sport Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Baccalaureate Degree

Physical therapy is an advanced degree, but many colleges and universities offer a Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Physical Therapy combined program. DPT programs suggest majors such as biology, chemistry, or health administration. Whatever you pick, you must complete a number of courses such as biological science, chemistry, anatomy, and physiology. Advanced courses include studies in public health, nutrition, microbiology, and cardiac physiology.

Important Facts About Sports Physical Therapists

Median Salary (2018) $87,930 (for all physical therapists
Job Outlook (2016-2026)28% growth (for all physical therapists)  
Work Environment Typically full-time during traditional hours, but some appointments may be during nights or weekends
Similar Occupations Chiropractors; occupational therapists; recreational therapists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Doctorate Degree

A Doctor of Physical Therapy degree prepares you to enter the profession as a physical therapist. Usually lasting three years, the program consists of classroom learning and clinical experience. Introductory courses give you an overview of the practice, as prescribed by the American Physical Therapy Association. You will learn the basics of examination, evaluation, and integration through patient care, while continuing with studies in the musculoskeletal, neurological, and cardiopulmonary systems.

Clinical courses are devised to introduce you to physical therapy and its role in the health care system, while continuing to expose you to clinical experience in examination, decision-making, and treatment. Part of that experience includes the psychological and social roles of a physical therapist. Much of the clinical experience is done on a full-time basis.


The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy offers computerized licensing exams on set dates during the year. In order to register to take the exam, you must accurately report your educational credentials and make sure that you meet requirements to be licensed in your state. In order to prepare, the FSBPT offers practice examinations that run in two increments of four hours each. After taking the exam, you will get an online performance report, telling you what you need to work on to achieve success in the actual exam.

EMT Certification

Sports therapy programs insist that all applicants be licensed emergency medical technicians (EMT). Red Cross certified courses are given at locations all over the country. Using hands-on training, the program teaches you how to come into an emergency situation and stabilize a patient's breathing until medical personnel arrives onto the scene.

Residency Program

Sports therapy residency programs run one year, and it is a full-time paid position. Applicants must already be licensed therapists to enter the program. Because these programs are associated with colleges and universities, you will work closely with the athletic departments and sports physicians in hospitals, clinics, and onsite at athletic or physical performance events. You will participate in rounds, perform research lab work and observe physicians, as well as gain valuable experience working on your own, under supervision.

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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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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