How Much Does a Sports Medicine Physical Therapist Make?

Sports medicine physical therapists are in high demand, but what does that mean for your salary? We’ve compiled data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find out how much you can expect to make in this rewarding career.

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Job Description

Sports medicine physical therapists are health care professionals who diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses that occur as a result of physical activity. They work with patients of all ages, from young athletes to older adults. Their goal is to help their patients recover from their injuries and improve their overall health.

Duties of a sports medicine physical therapist

Sports medicine physical therapists are responsible for the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of patients with sports-related injuries. They work with athletes at all levels to prevent and rehabilitate injuries. In addition to traditional physical therapy techniques, they may also use sports medicine techniques such as conditioning programs, massage, and heat and cold therapies.

Education and Training

A bachelor’s degree in physical therapy (PT) is the minimum educational requirement for entry-level positions in this field. Although some PTs hold a master’s degree or doctorate, these higher degrees are not required for most positions. Continuing education courses are necessary to keep up with the latest advancements in the field.

Required education and training

To practice physical therapy, individuals must earn a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapy program and pass a state-administered licensure exam. A small number of states require physical therapists to complete a postgraduate professional residency or fellowship before they can obtain a license.

The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) accredits more than 250 physical therapist education programs at the entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and several postprofessional levels. Most States require physical therapists to have graduated from an accredited program and to have passed the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, prior to obtaining a license.

Most entry-level physical therapist education programs take 3 years to complete and award the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. The curriculum is structured so that didactic coursework in basic sciences is completed during the first 2 years, while clinical rotations form the basis of the third year.

Most enjoy teaching and working with a team, and athletes are often challenging patients who are motivated to get better. Another key factor is that sports medicine physical therapists generally have a great deal of control over their workday. They typically design their own treatment plans and decide how to progress their patients.


There are many different types of sports medicine certification, but the most common is the Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC). To become an ATC, you must have a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from an accredited institution and pass the Board of Certification (BOC) exam. The BOC exam is a computer-based exam that tests your knowledge of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and other related subjects.

Certification process

The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) offers certification in seven areas of physical therapy:
-Clinical Electrophysiology
-Women’s Health

Candidates for certification must have completed a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in their area of specialty within the last five years, and must pass a rigorous examination. Certification is valid for 10 years, after which time recertification is required.

Certification requirements

All 50 states and the District of Columbia regulate the practice of physical therapy. Although professional requirements vary from state to state, most states require physical therapists to graduate from an accredited physical therapy program and pass a national licensing exam.

In addition, many states have laws that regulate the use of certain titles or initials by physical therapists. For example, some states may allow only licensed physical therapists to use the title “physical therapist” or the initials “PT.” Other states may allow licensed physical therapists to use other titles, such as “registered physical therapist” or “licensed massage therapist.”

A number of voluntary certification programs are available forphysical therapists. These programs are designed to assess and recognize practitioners who have demonstrated advanced knowledge and skills in specific areas of practice. Certification is often required by employers, insurance companies, and other third-party payers as a condition of reimbursement for services rendered by a physical therapist.


Sports medicine physical therapists earned a median annual salary of $85,790 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, sports medicine physical therapists earned a 25th percentile salary of $67,690, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $101,920, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 29,700 people were employed in the U.S. as sports medicine physical therapists.

Factors affecting salary

Like most professions, the amount of money you can earn as a sports medicine physical therapist will depend on a number of factors, including:
-Your educational qualifications
-Your level of experience
-The demand for your services
-The geographical location where you work

In general, however, you can expect to earn a good salary as a sports medicine physical therapist. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for this occupation was $85,790 in May 2019. This means that half of all sports medicine physical therapists earned more than this amount and half earned less.

Average salary

The average salary for a sports medicine physical therapist is $50,000.

Job Outlook

Employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 18 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. An aging population and an increase in the number of individuals with chronic conditions, such as obesity and diabetes, will lead to an increase in the number of individuals with disabilities and chronic conditions that require physical therapy.

Job outlook by region

The job outlook for sports medicine physical therapists varies by region. In general, the job outlook is good, with an expected growth rate of 36% from 2019 to 2029.However, job growth may vary depending on the specific region where you are employed. For example, job growth in the Midwest is expected to be lower than in other parts of the country, at just 27%.

Job outlook by industry

The job outlook for physical therapists is expected to be strong in the coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in this field will grow by 22 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Much of this growth will be due to the aging baby-boom population, who will need physical therapy for age-related conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and joint replacements.

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