How long does it take to become a sports physical therapist?

For those that desire to pursue a career in sports physical therapy, one of the questions that keep ringing is “How long does it take to become a sports physical therapist”?

Sports physical therapy can assist individuals in reaching their peak performance, whether they are recovering from an injury or aiming to enhance their skills. Sports physical therapists are dedicated professionals who help injured athletes recover and monitor their progress and reach their goals – and develop new ones.

The time it takes to become a sports physical therapist varies depending on the educational path chosen.

Studying part-time can lengthen the process while obtaining a PTA certification before pursuing a career as a sports physical therapist can extend the overall time required.

How long does it take to become a sports physical therapist

Here is a detailed breakdown of the steps and considerations to become a sports physical therapist:

Academic Preparation

Obtain a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a related field such as kinesiology, exercise science, biology, or sports medicine.

While it’s not always mandatory to have a specific undergraduate degree, having a background in a related field can be advantageous.

Entry-level positions in physical therapy typically require a doctorate or professional degree from a CAPTE-accredited institution, and each state has its own licensing requirements that must be met by sports physical therapists.

Prerequisite Courses

Some physical therapy graduate programs have prerequisite courses that you need to complete during your undergraduate education. These courses may include anatomy, physiology, biology, physics, and chemistry.

Graduate Education

Apply to accredited physical therapy graduate programs. Completing a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program is typically required to become a licensed physical therapist in many countries. The program usually takes about 3 years to complete.

Clinical Experience

Most graduate programs require applicants to have completed a certain number of observation or volunteer hours in a healthcare or physical therapy setting.

This hands-on experience helps you understand the field better and demonstrates your commitment to becoming a sports physical therapist.

Specialization in Sports Therapy

Training and experience are essential aspects of preparing for a career in this field. Consider seeking specialized training or work experience in sports therapy settings.

Working in a sports therapy clinic or with sports teams can give you valuable insights into the unique challenges and demands of this niche.

Licensing and Certification

After completing your DPT program, you will need to pass the national or state licensing examination to become a licensed physical therapist.

Additionally, some therapists choose to pursue additional certifications in sports physical therapy to enhance their expertise and marketability.

Continuing Education

Stay up-to-date with the latest developments in sports physical therapy by engaging in continuing education courses, workshops, and conferences. Continuous learning will help you refine your skills and provide the best care to your patients.


Building professional relationships with other physical therapists, sports medicine professionals, and coaches can open up opportunities and help you stay informed about potential job openings in the sports therapy field.

Job Search

Once you have completed your education and obtained the necessary licensing and certifications, start applying for positions in sports therapy clinics, sports teams, or other sports-related healthcare settings.

Professional Development

Throughout your career, focus on professional development, including pursuing advanced certifications, attending workshops, and staying informed about the latest research and treatment techniques in sports physical therapy.

How long does it take to become a sports physical therapist
Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur:

Skill required of a sports physical Therapist

Education is not the only requirement required of a sports physical therapist. Here re a few basic skills required of a sports physical therapist.

Critical Thinking

Sports physical therapists need strong analytical abilities to diagnose and create appropriate treatment plans based on patients’ physical motion and injuries.


Demonstrating care and compassion is essential to motivate and support patients throughout their rehabilitation journey.

Anatomy and Physiology Training

In-depth knowledge of the human body enables therapists to plan and execute effective therapeutic procedures for sports-related injuries.

Emergency Medical Training

Being prepared to provide emergency care, including CPR, is crucial in case patients experience life-threatening symptoms during therapy.

Physical Strength and Stamina

The job of a sports physical therapist requires physical fitness, strength, and stamina to provide treatment over extended periods effectively.

Mentoring and Coaching

Therapists help athletes regain their athletic abilities through motivation, specialized routines, and physical activities.

Editor’s Picks

Best sports medicine colleges in North Carolina

Sports Medicine Colleges In New Zealand

how to Become a personal trainer without a Degree

How to Become a travel nurse in Canada; Step by step approach