How To Become A Certified Sports Physical Therapist? Get The Roadmap


Sports physical therapy involves a holistic approach to prevent, treat, rehabilitate, and educate athletes on sports-related injuries. In order to help the athletes, we require clinical specialists in sports physical therapy with adequate skills, knowledge, and experience.

Certified sports physical therapists have high earning potential and reputations, just as other licensed medical professionals who work with athletes in diagnosing and treating physical injuries.

They must address the athletes’ physiological, psychological, pathological, and performance-oriented problems. This article will discuss how you can become a certified sports physical therapist.

Steps To Becoming A Certified Sports Physical Therapist

Steps To Becoming A Certified Sports Physical Therapist

To treat and rehabilitate patients with sports-related problems, you must have the proper training and certifications. Here are the steps you should follow to become a certified sports physical therapist:

💠 Earn A Bachelor’s Degree

Consider this as the first step in becoming a sports physical therapist. You may need to earn a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as biology, exercise science, or athletic training.

While you are completing your degree, find ways to expand your coursework and expertise by doing relevant internships in sports medical facilities. You could also earn experience by volunteering for college athletic programs or physical therapy institutes.

💠 Complete A Master’s Degree

The next step is to get a DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) degree. This is a 3-year degree program that focuses on physical therapy instruction and practice. While choosing the college, make sure that your DPT program has authorization from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

It is important to have solid academic and first-hand experience to become a sports physical therapist. Therefore, before entering graduate school, you might want to gain extra training. The best thing you can do is do sports medicine and physical therapy training at sports therapy clinics or other equivalent institutes. This will give you a better understanding of the subject and enhance your appeal while applying to graduate school.

Also Check: Telehealth Physical Therapy: Benefits And Limitations

💠 Get A Physical Therapy License

After completing your DPT program, you should take the licensing exam, which is the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE), in the state where you plan to practice. Once you pass the exam, you can start working as a licensed physical therapist. This might give you the experience needed to specialize in sports physical therapy.

To maintain the license, all physical therapists must meet the continuing education requirements every two years, which is the same for all states. This is done to keep the physical therapists updated with the current standards and trends.

💠 Gain Experience

You might have to complete a recognized residency program in a medical center or work at a sports therapy facility for at least 2,000 hours to advance to the next step.

💠 Get CPR And Emergency Medical Care Certification

Along with gaining experience, we must complete CPR and emergency care courses to be eligible for the test that qualifies us to perform sports physical therapy. To obtain a CPR certification, you can either sign up for an American Red Cross or American Heart Association CPR training course.

On the other hand, to obtain certification in emergency medical care, you can become a paramedic or EMT, enroll in Red Cross training, or obtain a Certified Athletic Trainer License from the National Athletic Trainers Association.

💠 Pass The Certification Test

After completing all of the required training and experience, you can apply for the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) sports specialized exam. The ABPTS gives you guidelines on test preparation and registration, along with suggestions and tips to prepare for the exam.

But before you take the exam, it is recommended to join the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). This is because being a member of APTA allows you to take the test at a much lower fee.

Bottom Line

As discussed, an experienced sports physical therapist is expected to make a good living. However, there are a lot of hurdles you might have to cross along this journey. To pursue this career, you must have adequate education, training, and experience. I hope the article gave you some insight into the basic guidelines for becoming a sports physical therapist. Best wishes on your journey!

Read More: The Impact Of Biomechanics Research On Sports Physical Therapy

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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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