How to Become a Sports Therapist

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Sports therapists are a special type of physical therapist who work with professional and amateur athletes. They help rehabilitate injured athletes, assist athletes in preventing injuries through proper training and other techniques and help athletes become more competitive. Many sports therapists have master's and doctoral degrees. Sports therapists typically work for professional teams, health and sports clubs and schools.

Play sports in high school. Sports therapists work with professional and amateur athletes and a knowledge of sports is assumed. A sports therapist will want to be in good physical shape.

Choose a college that offers a sports therapy or physical therapy major. Required courses might include anatomy, chemistry, physics, psychology and physiology. You'll need to earn a bachelor of science degree.

Do an internship. Practical training is an important part of becoming a licensed sports therapist. At Boston University, for example, which has a sports therapy program, students are assigned internships at sports teams, hospitals and medical offices.

Get a state license to practice physical therapy. This is done by taking a test administered by state boards. Different states have different requirements.

Consider graduate school. The American Physical Therapy Association anticipates that by 2020, physical therapy will be provided by doctors of physical therapy and that they may be board-certified specialists A growing number of schools are offering master's and doctoral programs in sports therapy. These degrees take from six to nine semesters.

Earn sports therapy certification from the APTA. Awarded to those who have advanced knowledge of the field, the requirements for certification are demanding. Candidates must be licensed to practice physical therapy and have 2,000 hours of clinical practice in sports therapy. Candidates must also take a test.

Tip

When looking at colleges with physical therapy programs, ask what percentage of its students pass the licensing exam.

It's not necessary to have a bachelor's degree to go into the field of sports therapy, only to become a therapist. Jobs as assistants are available to high school graduates.

Warning

Make sure whichever college program you pick is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Otherwise you won't be able to take the licensing exam.

References

About the Author

Based in New York, Susan Breen has been working as a writer since 1981. Her articles have appeared in "The Writer" and "Writer's Digest" magazines. Her first novel, "The Fiction Class," was published by Plume/Penguin in 2008. Breen holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from Columbia University.