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Physical Therapy Specialties for Sports Fans

Four unique certifications that can boost your career
By Lily Beltran
Physical Therapy Specialties for Sports Fans

It’s a great time to be a physical therapist. You have lots of choices about where and how you work. If you have a certain passion, such as neurology or women’s health or pediatrics, you can become a board-certified specialist in that area. And if you love athletics, there are many certifications that can enhance your career as a sports-focused physical therapist. Here are just four:

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists are professionals who apply scientific knowledge to help athletes improve their performance. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), these specialists:

  • Conduct sport-specific testing sessions.
  • Design and implement safe, effective strength training and conditioning programs.
  • Provide guidance on nutrition and injury prevention. 

You don’t have to be a physical therapist to receive a CSCS certification. However, combining your PT expertise with this certification has certain advantages, according to a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. These include:

  • New professional opportunities in the PT field
  • More respect from other therapists
  • Better care provided for their patients

Learn more about the CSCS certification from NSCA.

Orthopedic Certified Specialist (OCS)

Orthopedic physical therapists treat conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system. These may include fractures, muscle strains, ligaments sprains, tendonitis, and bursitis. Regarding certification, Marie Johnson, PT, PhD, OCS says, “It’s really a way to differentiate that you have taken this extra step to study and make sure that you’re current in the general field of orthopedics. I believe it helped me get referrals from physicians.”

Learn more about the OCS certification from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).

Sports Certified Specialist (SCS)

As a sports certified specialist, you are considered an expert in athletic injury management—including acute care, treatment, rehabilitation, prevention, and education. “In the clinic, [certification and specialization] really helped with patient selection,” says Michael L. Fink, PT, DSc, OCS, SCS. “I have patients driving over an hour from out of state to seek me out, seek the services that I can provide for them.”

Learn more about the SCS certification from APBTS.

Certified Functional Strength Coach (CFSC)

Established by Mike Boyle, strength and conditioning guru, the CFSC program aims to help coaches and trainers improve in their profession. This is done in part by adding a live, practical exam to the certification process. “By doing this we are creating a skilled network of coaches that can deliver great demos, and provide clear and concise coaching cues, all within a systematic approach to programming,” according to the CFSC website. “Our goal is to make good coaches great and great coaches even better.”

Learn more about the CFSC certification.

Certifications are a great way to combine a particular with your love of healing to create the perfect career. And if you’re looking for even greater flexibility and choice, consider a career as a Luna physical therapist. We’re doing business in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, and soon in Seattle!

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