Sports therapist: job description

Last updated: 21 Jun 2023, 15:39

Sports therapists use their knowledge and skills to treat sporting injuries, advise on injury prevention and support rehabilitation, using a range of physical techniques and therapies.

grass to represent sports and outdoor activities

What does a sports therapist do? Graduate salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Typical duties include:

  • helping prepare clients both mentally and physically to reduce the risk of injury
  • assessing injuries and developing treatment plans
  • providing treatment, which can include massage, taping and electrotherapy
  • drawing up rehabilitation plans to restore full fitness
  • observing sports matches
  • giving first aid if required
  • checking injuries and strappings during matches
  • making decisions about whether athletes and players can continue
  • administering treatment for minor injuries such as bruises, strains and blisters
  • referring individuals to appropriate sports and medical practitioners for further treatment
  • collaborating with trainers and coaches on injury prevention programmes.

Sports therapy is different from physiotherapy. It focuses specifically on sport-related health, whereas physiotherapists handle patients with a range of injuries and conditions. Only people who are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council can call themselves physiotherapists.

Sports therapists may work at clinics, where patients tend to be members of the public, or be attached to sports clubs where patients are more highly trained. It’s also possible – and common – to do both kinds of work.

You may need to work weekends and evenings if your role involves attending matches or providing evening appointments.

Graduate salaries

Based on individual job listings we’ve looked at, salaries for sports therapists can start from £17,000 and increase to around £24,000 fairly quickly with experience. According to Glassdoor, the typical low salary for a sports therapist is £25,000 and the average salary is for those with more experience is £37,000. You’re likely to earn more working with a sports club than in a clinic, although not all sports club jobs are full time. It’s common to combine a number of part-time or hourly paid roles: for example, you could see patients in a clinic during the day and work with an amateur sports team in the evenings or at weekends.

Typical employers of sports therapists

Most sports therapists are self-employed. Typical clients include:

  • sports injury clinics
  • professional and amateur sports teams or clubs
  • health and fitness clubs
  • sports and leisure centres
  • rehabilitation centres.

Some sports therapists will also work in other sport-related roles such as teaching, coaching or personal training.

Jobs are advertised by careers services and university departments. They’re also advertised by the Society of Sports Therapists, individual clinics and sports teams, and on specialist jobs boards. You may also find them on sector-specific jobs boards.

Not all jobs are widely advertised. It’s likely that you’ll need to network – for example, via any professional sports associations you’re part of – and make speculative applications to find a job.

Qualifications and training required

You don’t need a degree to become a sports therapist, but if you want to join the Society of Sports Therapists you’ll need to have an accredited undergraduate or postgraduate degree in sports therapy from one of the society’s partner universities. It’s not obligatory to become a member of the society but it’s advisable as it is a clear indication to employers and clients that you have the relevant skills and knowledge.

Alternative qualifications are available at a range of levels (full or part time), including HND, diplomas and advanced diplomas but these aren’t accredited by the Society of Sports Therapists. You would need to research each qualification and how well it will set you up for a career in sports therapy.

Work experience will help your job applications. In addition to any coaching or teaching you do as part of your studies and extra-curricular activities, look for work placements with clinics and clubs.

Key skills for sports therapists

  • Good interpersonal skills.
  • Physical fitness.
  • Conscientiousness.
  • The ability to form strong relationships with people from diverse backgrounds.
  • The ability to deal sensitively with injured clients.
  • Encouraging and motivational communication style.

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