Sports Therapist Career Information

A sports therapist usually has a degree in kinesiology, sport physiotherapy or athletic training. Many sports therapists also have graduate degrees or additional certifications and professional memberships. Most sports therapists work in a health care clinic setting, usually with several therapists or a sports medicine physician on site.

Basic Tasks

Sports therapists usually work in a health care environment most likely with a modified gym and some may have access to swimming pools and steam rooms, depending on the facility that employs them. Some travel may be involved in this occupation, but it is usually limited or irregular.

A sports therapist will either begin by seeing patients or by working on treatment plans for patients that they will see in the next few days. The therapist will assess the client's balance, flexibility, range of motion, coordination and endurance. They will look for injuries, old and new, and help the patient deal with the injuries on the basis of the physician's diagnosis and treatment plan. The therapist will also give advice on injury prevention and provide a plan for warm ups and cool downs that meet the client's needs and based on the rigors of the sport that the client participates in.

The therapist will evaluate a client before and after an event to determine readiness, to tape or massage a player, to treat injuries and offer First Aid if necessary. All of this information is included in the patient's file or treatment plan, so keeping accurate records of a patient's history, for the benefit of the patient or for any other health care providers that work with this patient, is a must.

Hours

Most sports therapists work Monday to Friday, full-time. Some may work more during peak periods in their sport, and some weekend work may also be required. Sports therapists can begin their work as early as seven in the morning, to accommodate clients before school or work.

Salary

The average salary for sports therapists is approximately $45,000 per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics groups sports therapist with all physical therapists, and according to their data, physical therapists receive an average hourly wage of thirty-five dollars an hour, or approximately $74,000 per year. The top paying states for this profession are Nevada, California and New Jersey.

Opportunities

Many sports therapists are affiliated with physical therapy clinics and their patients are usually amateur athletes at the high school or college level. The sports team may contract the services of a sports therapist through a physical therapy clinic, or from a sports medicine physician, or they may hire an onsite sports therapist, though this will depend on the team's budget and their access to therapy facilities.

There are some opportunities for sports therapists to work for professional teams, such as football, baseball or soccer. There are even opportunities to work for the professional rodeo or as part of the team that supervises an Olympic athlete or team. Building a good rapport with coaches, sports medicine physicians and athletes is likely to lead to more opportunities in these areas.