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How much does a Sports Physical Therapist make?

Sports physical therapy is a crucial aspect of athlete care, enabling them to recover from injuries and perform at their best. As the demand for sports physical therapists continues to rise, many aspiring therapists wonder about the potential earnings in this field. In this article, we’ll explore the factors that influence the salary of sports physical therapists, the average earnings, and the best practices for those interested in pursuing a career in this rewarding profession.

Understanding the Role of a Sports Physical Therapist

Before delving into the salary aspect, let’s briefly understand the role of a sports physical therapist. These professionals specialize in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal injuries and conditions prevalent among athletes. They work closely with athletes of all levels, from amateurs to professionals, aiding in injury prevention, rehabilitation, and performance enhancement.

Factors Affecting Sports Physical Therapist Salaries

Several factors impact the salary of sports physical therapists:

  • Experience and Education: As with many professions, experience and educational qualifications play a significant role in determining earnings. Therapists with advanced degrees or specialized certifications often command higher salaries.
  • Geographic Location: The location of the sports physical therapy practice influences income levels. Urban areas and regions with a higher cost of living generally offer higher salaries.
  • Workplace Setting: Sports physical therapists can work in various settings, such as hospitals, sports clinics, or sports teams. Each setting may have different pay scales.
  • Level of Sports Involvement: Those working with professional sports teams or elite athletes may receive higher remuneration compared to those serving at the amateur level.

Average Salary of Sports Physical Therapists

As of 2023, the average salary of sports physical therapists in the United States ranges from $60,000 to $90,000 per year. However, it’s essential to remember that these figures are approximate and can vary significantly based on the factors mentioned earlier.

Top-Paying Industries for Sports Physical Therapists

  • Professional Sports Teams: Sports physical therapists working with renowned professional sports teams may earn some of the highest salaries due to the intense demands of the job and the need for specialized expertise.
  • Sports Rehabilitation Centers: These centers focus solely on sports-related injuries, attracting athletes who require top-tier treatment. Therapists employed in such facilities may benefit from higher-than-average pay.
  • Hospitals and Medical Centers: Experienced sports physical therapists working in well-established hospitals may earn competitive salaries.

Career Growth and Advancement Opportunities

Sports physical therapists have several avenues for career advancement, which can lead to increased earning potential. Some opportunities include:

  1. Specialization: Pursuing advanced certifications in specialized areas, such as orthopedics or sports performance, can make therapists more valuable in the job market.
  2. Private Practice: Establishing a successful private practice allows therapists to set their rates and potentially increase their income substantially.
  3. Research and Education: Some therapists choose to transition into academia or research, contributing to the field’s knowledge and earning a higher salary in the process.

Tips for Aspiring Sports Physical Therapists

If you’re interested in becoming a sports physical therapist, consider these tips to enhance your career prospects:

  1. Focus on Education: Pursue a relevant bachelor’s degree and aim for a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree for the best opportunities.
  2. Gain Experience: Seek internships and volunteer opportunities to gain hands-on experience, making you more marketable to potential employers.
  3. Network: Build professional connections within the sports industry to improve job prospects and explore potential higher-paying opportunities.


Becoming a sports physical therapist can be a fulfilling and financially rewarding career choice for those passionate about sports and human movement. While salaries may vary based on several factors, dedicated therapists with the right qualifications and experience can expect competitive remuneration. By following best practices, continuously learning, and seizing opportunities, aspiring  physical therapists can carve a successful and lucrative path in this dynamic field.

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