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How can I Become a Sports Physical Therapist?

Nov 18th 2015 at 1:00 PM

Sports physical therapists perform the job role of helping athletes with rehabilitation upon sustaining physical injuries. First, they diagnose the problem, then evaluate a client’s progress throughout a plan of treatment. The work may be physically demanding.


Career Requirements

Degree: Doctoral

Degree area: Physical therapy

Licensure: Physical therapists or PTs must be licensed in their state; this is typically accomplished by passing the National Physical Therapy Examination or state examinations.

Certification: Specialty certification is optional.

Experience: There may be a requirement for a residency program lasting between nine months and three years.

Key skills: Communication and skills of a problem-solving nature.

Salary (2015): $83,000 (median for physical therapists).


Step 1: Bachelor's Degree

There are various related bachelor’s degree programs such as athletic training, pre-physical therapy, biology, and health science. A number of colleges provide accelerated dual-degree programs which take six years to complete.


Step 2: Basic Training

Before admission to a physical graduate degree program, many colleges expect a candidate to have some work experience in the field. Some programs have a minimum amount of working hours, which may include voluntary work, while others insist on a more specific amount of hours. Typically, the kind of work required can be found in nursing homes, hospitals, and clinics.

Physical therapist Silver Spring, MD

Step 3: Graduate Degree

Physical therapy programs most commonly award a DPT. The accrediting body of the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association) is the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). This is the only accrediting body to be recognized by the Council for Higher Education and the United States Department of Education.

Before graduation, a student must complete a residency which is under the guidance of a supervisor.


Step 4: Licensure

Every U.S. state requires that physical therapists are licensed. Licensure requirements do vary, though, in general, a degree from an accredited program through CAPTE in addition to a National Physical Therapy Examination pass is required. In many states, to maintain licensure, there is a mandate for continuing educational courses.


Step 5: Specialty Certification

The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties offers voluntary certification in sports physical therapy. Either a minimum of 2,000 hours of hands-on experience in patient care within the specialty area or the completion of a post-doctoral residency program which has been accredited is required. There is also a final exam that applicants must pass.


Step 6: American Physical Therapy Association

For those who have graduated from an accredited program in physical therapy, they can become a member of the APTA. This is beneficial as it opens further job opportunities. APTA also provide continuing education courses, which are valuable in terms of licensure renewal.



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