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what would be the best major to be a physical therapist in sports medicine and how long would it be

#physical-therapist I am a lifeguard also interested in sports and helping people #athletic-training

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John’s Answer

Physical therapy is a rapidly growing field Nathalie.

To become a physical therapist, You must complete an accredited physical therapy program, many of which culminate in a doctorate degree, and earn state licensing. A residency program in sports medicine can train physical therapists to specialize in helping athletes, including preventing and treating injuries, and even enhancing performance.


Sports physical therapists help rehabilitate athletes who have sustained physical injuries. They diagnose problems and evaluate patient progress throughout a treatment plan. Work can be physically demanding; physical therapists often stand for long periods and assist patients within the process of therapy.


BACHELOR'S DEGREE – 4 YEARS – Related bachelor's degree programs for undergraduates include pre-physical therapy, athletic training, biology or health science. As an undergraduate, students take courses that fulfill requirements to enroll in physical therapy graduate school, such as biology, chemistry, physics and physiology. A degree program in physical therapist assisting can also prepare students for a graduate degree program.

PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION – 3 YEARS – A post-graduate Doctor of Physical Therapy degree is also required and qualifies the graduate to practice as a general physical therapist. Doctor of physical therapy programs usually take 3 years to complete with some providing a specialization track in sports medicine. Physical therapists must be licensed and that requirements may vary from state to state. Typical requirements include completion of an accredited degree program and passing the National Physical Therapy Exam.

RESIDENCY – 1 YEAR –Physical therapists can specialize in sports medicine and acquire clinical experience in the field through a residency in sports physical therapy. Residents are practicing physical therapists who wish to expand their competencies in sports medicine. The programs typically last about a year and teach participants to prevent, assess and treat sports injuries.

SALARY – The median annual salary for physical therapists is $89,000, your earnings may depend on the industry and the state you work in Nathalie.

Hope this was Helpful Nathalie

Thank You Dexter. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” — Muhammad Ali John Frick

thank you dexter Nathalie R.

Your Welcome Nathalie, It was my Pleasure. John Frick

Thank You Aun. “Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr. John Frick

Thank you for your support Syed. Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much. John Frick

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Ryan’s Answer

I am one year out of PT school so my perspective is fairly fresh and I have significant sports experience. Choose athletic training as an undergraduate degree. It is critical if you want to work in sports. There are 1 year residencies after PT school that can get you a sports specialty, but they aren’t required or really even as heavily favored as an ATC. Having an ATC and DPT is required to work with most sports teams and sports internships offered during PT school won’t even take someone without an ATC background. Another plus is that an athletic trainer is a 4 year degree and can get you an actual job. You could have part-time work during PT school, work during any summer or gap year you took, or if you somehow didn’t get into PT school on your first try. Good luck!

thank you Ryan Nathalie R.

I went to school with the current Director of Medical Operations / Head Athletic Trainer for the St. Louis Cardinals. He got a degree in Athletic Training then worked in Florida at the Baseball Summer Training camps. Later he went and got a Masters in Physical Therapy. This just backs up exactly what Ryan stated above. Tamara Wooldridge

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Syed’s Answer

Hi Nathalie,

You should consider a major in Kinesiology or Athletic Training. These are typically 4 year degrees

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Donna’s Answer

Hi Nathalie! First of all, good for you for checking out this question early so you can be prepared for what you need to do in college and beyond. Ryan's response is very helpful above per sports med but I would add a couple of other considerations. As a PT professor for 20 years, serving many years on admission boards, I recommend that no matter what your undergrad degree major is, that you make sure you meet the prerequisites of the PT schools you are intending to apply to. So, first, identify several PT schools that you want to apply to then go into the school's on-line catalog and see what each particular school requires for admission to PT school. For example, some schools may require a microbiology course or an advanced chemistry but others may not. Just be sure that you use your undergrad elective credits to take any courses outside of those required by your major that you may need to meet the PT prerequisites. And always apply to more than one PT school!
Study hard and good luck...