For many, working in the NBA is a dream. But there are plenty of ways to make that dream a reality. One option is to become an NBA physical therapist.
If you’ve been wondering, “Are there physical therapists in the NBA?” what do they do? You’re in the right place. We’ve covered everything you need to know about the day-to-day life of an NBA physical therapist and what it takes to become one in the sections below.
Let’s get started.
What is an NBA Physical Therapist?
A physical therapist in the NBA helps athletes rebuild their strength and movement after an injury.
They do this by assessing the athlete’s injury, understanding how it limits them, devising exercises and treatments to improve the athlete’s strength or movement, and then putting the plan into action through regular treatment sessions and workouts.
NBA physical therapists work with athletes with more fine-tuned performance needs than patients with whom a regular physical therapist might work. They also tend to focus on a more limited range of injuries and rehabilitation exercises than the average physical therapist.
How Much do NBA Physical Therapists Make?
Data on NBA physical therapist salaries are limited because there are only 30 NBA teams, and they don’t publicize how much they pay their physical therapists.
That being said, the average salary for a general physical therapist in the USA is about $95,000 annually. We can assume that NBA physical therapists make more than this since they are at the top of their field and have more intensive expectations than the average physical therapist.
It’s tough to say how high an NBA physical therapist’s salary can go. Still, it’s above six figures and potentially even into seven-figure territory for the most qualified NBA physical therapists.
Teams are willing to invest significant money into this position because physical therapists help NBA players recover from injury faster and perform optimally while on the court. Having a physical therapist on the staff who is better than most therapists in the NBA is a significant competitive advantage.
Qualifications and Expectations
Only a handful of NBA physical therapist jobs are available, meaning you truly need to be at the top of the field to get one. That means having a strong resume with relevant work experience and an education from solid schools.
You will be expected to travel with the team if you get hired for this position. The team that engages you will expect you to deliver treatment to players whenever they need it – day or night.
It’s not uncommon for NBA physical therapists to work 14-hour days and longer. But in exchange for that sacrifice, you’ll earn a high income and get to work with some of the most prominent star athletes on the planet.
How to Become an NBA Physical Therapist
If you think basketball physical therapy is for you, then there’s no time like the present to begin working toward that goal. We’ll outline the steps needed to go from here to there in the sub-sections below.
Education and Certification
The first step toward becoming an NBA physical therapist is completing your education and certification requirements.
That starts with getting a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as biology, sports medicine, or something similar. It’s vital to complete core classes in science subjects like chemistry, physics, and biology during your undergrad degree program, as these are a requirement for getting into a grad school program for physical therapy.
After you’ve completed your bachelor’s degree, the next step is getting a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) from an accreditated university. These typically take three years to complete.
Once you’ve finished your doctorate, you can apply for certification in the state where you wish to begin working. You’ll have to pass an exam, a background check, and potentially other requirements to get your certification.
Completing your physical therapy education and certification is the first step toward landing your dream job with an NBA team. You’ll also need enough experience to stand out from the competition.
You can begin working towards this requirement while pursuing your bachelor’s and doctorate degrees. Working with school sports teams is an excellent opportunity to get some entry-level experience in this field that will help you stand out from other applicants.
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get an NBA job immediately. Instead, look for physical therapist job opportunities that prepare you to apply to NBA positions in the future.
You might take a position with a sports rehabilitation center or find a job working with a college sports team or an NBA G-League team.
It’s all about getting as much experience working with athletes as possible so that the NBA teams know you’re ready to join the league when it comes.
Job Search & Networking
Now that you’re ready to get a basketball physical therapy job in the NBA, it’s time to get hired. Networking is a big part of this.
You can start networking with NBA teams, players, and training staff online and through in-person clinics, conferences, and events. The more people you meet, the higher the chance one of them will influence a hiring decision.
Some NBA physical therapists even got their big break via LinkedIn. You never know how it will happen; you need to put yourself out there to give yourself the best chance of meeting the right person at the right time.
It can also be beneficial to apply to new NBA physical therapist positions before everyone else. This will put your resume at the top of the pile and ensure that the hiring manager takes a good look instead of only glancing at it.
JobsInSports.com can help you do that. If you create an account with us today, we’ll start sending you notifications when new NBA physical therapist jobs are posted so that you can apply for them immediately.