Career Paths For Certified Sports PTs – What Are The Several Career Paths In Sports PTs?


One great service you can do for yourself, and in turn, for society, is to participate in some kind of sport. Engaging in sports offers so many benefits, both physical and mental, that almost no other activity can match. Thanks to growing consensus about the importance of physical activity and health, the recreational and professional sports industry is flourishing again, after a brief pause during covid. 

Why Do Injuries Matter?

When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck. Among the 30 million children and teens participating in organized sports in the United States every year, 3.5 million injuries happen. That’s 10,000 injuries every day. Injuries can prevent the young athlete from harnessing the most benefits from their early days of training, when steep growth can be achieved with relatively minimal effort. Serious injuries can even cost an athlete their career. 

The Role Of Sports Physical Therapists

The good news is that most injuries can be prevented and with a personalized approach to rehabilitation, you can recover from systematic training injuries in far less time. This is where the role of a sports physical therapist comes into the picture. With a graduate degree in the subject and certification in sports physical therapy under your belt, you can opt for one of several career paths in sports healthcare. 

🔹 Sports Physical Therapist

This is a direct career path for a certified sports PT. If you choose this role, you will work with athletes to prevent and manage injuries. You can work for a single athlete, a sports team, or a sports injury clinic. 

🔹 Performance Specialist

The professional sports world is extremely competitive. So each hour of athletic training matters. As a performance specialist, you would need to assess the physical condition and capabilities of athletes and develop personalized training programs to improve their performance, without falling victim to an injury. You can either work for a single athlete or a team. You may have to do some additional certifications and continue to learn and stay abreast of the latest research and developments in the field. 

Athletic Trainer

🔹 Athletic Trainer

If you decide to become an athletic trainer, a rewarding career awaits you, especially If you have some amount of training growing up. Incredibly great trainers have evolved from failed athletes. Your training in physical therapy will help you understand the morphology and movements of the human body at a deep level. This will help you become a trainer who really understands the athletes’ body. But you would have to do athletic trainer certification programs to shift to this career. 

🔹 Strength And Conditioning Coach

A strength and conditioning coach should have a deep understanding of how the human body moves and how it can get injured. The training you get at university will give you an edge there. In this role, you would need to design safe and effective training programs for budding athletes. This is such an important part of an athlete’s life that if you can get good at your job, it can be a very rewarding career. You would have to get more certifications though. 

🔹 Rehabilitation Specialist

As a rehabilitation specialist, you would work with athletes who are recovering from injuries. You may also work with other people who get injuries that are common in sports, like a golfer’s elbow, for example. You would need to design and implement rehabilitation programs for your clients and work closely with other healthcare professionals. 

🔹 Researcher Or Educator

As a researcher, a sports physical therapist should evaluate and challenge the existing practices in health care and develop new knowledge through research. You can conduct research on areas like sports injuries, rehabilitation methods, and prevention strategies. As an educator, you can develop and deliver courses in these areas. 

🔹 Consultant

Once you gain enough experience, you can take up a lucrative career in consulting. Your clients can be premier athletes and sports teams around the world. If you gain good exposure early on in your career, you can bring different aspects of sports healthcare together and offer multidisciplinary services to your clients.

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Final Thoughts

To sum it all up, a certified PT has a lot more options now than the traditional path. It all comes down to the attitude of the professional, to continue learning and upskilling themselves. As a sports PT, you can easily move to several related professions, thanks to the years of rigorous training you get at university. 

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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