Sports therapists work with sports men and women offering advice on how to train and compete safely, as well as treating injuries that may occur.
You could be:
developing a programme for injured sports men and women to restore them to full performing standard
using movement and manipulation to identify muscle and joint injuries
planning and delivering programmes of massage, sauna, hydrotherapy and other therapies to treat injured sports performers
using weighted exercise equipment and electronic muscle-exercisers
advising on techniques to strengthen the muscles and prevent future injury in sports performance
monitoring clients before and after they perform, supervising warming-up and cooling-down exercises
helping clients prepare for a sporting event and testing their fitness levels
working with coaches, doctors, physiotherapists and sports scientists
possibly giving first aid to sportsmen and women at sporting events.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Pay in the private sector depends on employer and location. As an assistant sports therapist with a team you could earn from around £17,000 a year. A full time sports therapist with a professional team would earn approximately £28,000 to £36,000 a year. A self-employed sports therapist would charge individual clients from £25 to £40 an hour.
As a sports therapist working in the NHS you will be on Agenda for Change Band 5, £26,104 to £32,915 a year. The current pay scales are from April 2021.
Working hours usually includes evenings and weekends, to accommodate clients who work during the day.
You could work part time.
Your job may include a lot of physical exertion and heavy lifting.
You would be based in a treatment room at a sports injury clinic or linked to a sports team or club, or maybe both, but you may also spend time outside in all weather during matches and training.
You may work with some patients in a swimming pool.
You may travel with athletes, possibly abroad, and you might sometimes be away from home overnight.
There is no single route into sports therapy. You could enter in one of the following ways.
A Higher National Diploma (HND) in Sports Therapy.
The City of Glasgow College, Edinburgh College and the University of the Highlands and Islands (Inverness and Perth campuses) offer an HND in Sports Therapy. Entry is 2 Highers (English and a science subject may be preferred).
Several universities in England offer a degree in Sports Therapy accredited by the Society of Sports Therapists. See their website for details.
A degree in sport and exercise science or similar – for entry you need 4-5 Highers including 1-2 science subjects.
A recognised qualification in physiotherapy (see article on Physiotherapist) – for entry to a degree course you need 4-5 Highers including 1-2 science subjects. Only qualified physiotherapists may work as sports therapists within the National Health Service (NHS).
A degree in physiology, sports science, psychology, medicine or physiotherapy plus a relevant postgraduate qualification. The University of Glasgow runs a postgraduate course in Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine.
An osteopathic or chiropractic qualification.
It is important to choose a course accredited by the Society of Sports Therapists as this will allow you to obtain professional indemnity insurance.
You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
You would also require a valid first aid certificate.
You might find work in a sports club, sports organisation or private hospital. Most sports therapists have several part time jobs or are self-employed. If you are a physiotherapist you could work in a specialist sports clinic in an NHS hospital.