NFL Occupational Therapist

If you’re interested in working in the National Football League, then one job opportunity you may consider is becoming an NFL occupational therapist. You’ll get to work directly with players and help them regain their ability to perform essential daily living tasks after serious injuries.

The first steps in getting started with this career are understanding what the job entails and what it takes to get hired. We’ve covered that in the sections below to help you get started, so keep reading to learn more.

Understanding Occupational Therapy for Athletes

An occupational therapist will typically work with an athlete after they suffer a severe injury that requires lengthy rehab. 

They’ll help the athlete develop new methods of performing daily tasks that allow them to care for themselves while working around their injury. For example, an occupational therapist might work with an NFL player after a severe broken bone or a significant concussion.

This benefits athletes by helping them to continue living relatively everyday life in the wake of a severe injury. An occupational therapist may work side-by-side with a physical therapist to help the athlete get back to being themselves as soon as possible.

The critical difference between occupational and physical therapists is that they help people with daily living tasks. In contrast, physical therapists focus on improving patients’ ability to move their bodies.

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Do NFL Teams Have Occupational Therapists?

An NFL team may or may not have a full-time occupational therapist on its staff. Some couples do, while others outsource the job on an as-needed basis with primary sports rehabilitation clinics in the region.

If you want to be an occupational therapist who works with NFL players, there are two significant ways to do it. You can either try to get hired directly by an NFL team or look for a job with an effective sports rehabilitation center with which NFL teams have partnerships.

Either way, you’ll need to be skilled to become an occupational therapist working with NFL players. Positions in sports medicine and rehabilitation are highly sought-after, so you will face stiff competition as you apply for these jobs.

What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?

Occupational therapist spends their time treating patients who are recovering from injuries. They do so in each the following ways:

  • Evaluate a patient’s condition and needs
  • Develop a treatment plan for patients, identifying specific goals and the types of activities that will be used to help the patient 
  • Demonstrate exercises
  • Recommend special equipment
  • Assess and record patients’ activities and progress for patient evaluations

In the NFL, an occupational therapist will do all of these things in direct coordination with the front office, coaching staff, and star players that need this type of support in the wake of a severe injury.


An NFL occupational therapist’s salary can vary based on whether they work directly for a team or a sports rehabilitation center. That being said, the median salary for an occupational therapist is about $85,500.

If you were to get hired in this role, you could earn more or less than that based on your experience and qualifications.

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Benefits of Working for the NFL

Working for the NFL is highly desirable for a few different reasons. First, and most obviously, you’ll get to rub shoulders with some of the biggest stars in modern sports. For die-hard fans of the NFL, this benefit alone makes it the ideal place to work.

But also, the NFL offers some excellent benefits packages. No matter what kind of benefits you’re looking for, you should be able to get them if the NFL employs you.

And finally, working for the NFL will make your resume stand out for the rest of your life. If you ever need to look for another job after working for an NFL team, you should be able to find one quickly.

How Do You Become an Occupational Therapist in the NFL?

Becoming an occupational therapist is a long but advantageous process; it takes advanced education, good workplace experience, and a well-planned job search. We’ll outline each of those steps in the sub-sections below.


An occupational therapist needs to have both a bachelor’s degree and a graduate degree. That means the first step in this process is earning a bachelor’s degree to get you into a good grad program.

You’ll want a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as biology, health science, or psychology. Be sure to participate in extracurricular activities during your undergrad career to have a solid resume that will get you into a graduate school program in occupational therapy.

You can earn a Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) or a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (DOT). Earning your doctorate will be a longer, more challenging process. But the qualification will also help you stand out.


You’ll typically need some work experience before an NFL team hires you. That means once you graduate, you should start looking for jobs in the field of sports medicine so that you can get some practice working with athletes.

One of the best ways to get started is by working with athletes at your school while completing your graduate program. This will help you get the entry-level experience needed to qualify for jobs down the line, which can prepare you to get hired by an NFL team.

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Job Search

Finding your first NFL job will be much easier if you have connections in the league. You can start building those at your graduate program (by working with the football team) and attending various conferences, job fairs, and other significant events in the field of sports medicine.

It’s also essential that you apply to jobs quickly so that your resume is always one of the first that the hiring director looks at. can help with that.

We maintain an up-to-date list of the best jobs in sports and can send you notifications the second we post a new one in your area of interest.

You can create an account with us today to give yourself a leg up in the hiring process.