Sorts Massage Levels

If you’re currently wondering what the different sports massage levels are, we’ll break these down and explore where these various qualifications will lead you.

To examine these levels in detail, we’ll cover:

But while you’re here, why not take a look at our Level 3 Sports Massage Course? This is the perfect way to start your career and gain an understanding of how to best help client recovery.

Find out more by downloading our course prospectus here.

Sports Massage Levels: Everything You Need To Know

If you’re wondering how to become a sports massage therapist and are looking into the different sports massage levels, it’s important to know why levels exist, what separates each one and what career opportunities they can provide you with.

What Are The Different Levels Of Sports Massage?

What are the different sports massage levels

The professional levels of sports massage are:

Level 3 Sports Massage

The Level 3 Sports Massage qualification is the standard level to get started in the industry. It is the minimum requirement to gain employment as a sports massage therapist, and necessary to advance onto the other levels.

Most jobs involving sports massage will list this as a required qualification, such as this one posted on Indeed for a sports massage course tutor and assessor:

sports massage course tutor

There are no prerequisites to gaining a place on a Level 3 Sports Massage Course. These courses are open to anyone with an interest in sports massage and cover a range of topics regarding client rehabilitation, such as advanced techniques to help muscular recovery.

This builds a solid foundation for students to gain confidence as a certified sports masseur by providing them with plenty of suitable skills and knowledge, as well as practical implementation.

Level 4 Sports Massage Course

The next stage is a Level 4 Sports Massage Course which builds on the foundational skills and knowledge developed on the previous level. This 4 qualification provides a deeper understanding of the skills required for sports massage and the application methods.

level 4 sports massage

There will often be a heavier focus on the therapy as a practice and the science behind it, as it looks deeper into the anatomy and physiology when treating client injuries.

For example, OriGym’s Level 4 Sports Massage Courses will also look into more advanced therapies to aid in recovery, such as:

  • Soft Tissue Repair
  • Cryotherapy
  • Thermotherapy

As this is more advanced and builds upon previous knowledge, to gain entry on a Level 4 Sports Massage Course, students must have completed a Level 3 Sports Massage Qualification, prior to enrolment.

sports massage levels qualification

This course is suitable for those who wish to gain employment in more professional environments, such as working with large groups or athletes.

While employers will still list the Level 3 as the main qualification, having the Level 4 provides you with even more desirable skills. For example, take a look at this job advertisement for a sports massage therapist in Liverpool:

sports massage job ad

Although they list the Level 3 Sports Massage qualification as an essential requirement, it also states that working towards a Level 4 Sports Massage is desirable.

This means that, by having this advanced qualification, you’ll have an advantage over someone with just the minimum requirement.

Level 5 Sports Massage Course

sports massage course levels

To gain entry to a Level 5 Sports Massage course, students require both a Level 3 and Level 4 Sports Massage qualification. This is the equivalent of a university undergraduate degree, providing students with a high level of skills and knowledge.

However, as the level 5 course isn’t as common, the topics covered on this course will vary between each institution. These courses will be offered by university or colleges and can take between one to three years to complete depending on what the institution allows.

There is no professional or legal requirement for those seeking employment to be qualified beyond Level 4.

Even less common is the Level 6 Sports Massage qualification. This is very rare and likely to be attributed to the specific college or university offering it, and not as a nationally recognised qualification.

Why Are There Different Levels Of Sports Massage?

different levels of sports massage

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation, or simply Ofqual, is the UK government department responsible for regulating qualifications and their providers. All qualifications regulated by Ofqual are set at one of its eight levels.

The reason there are different levels of sports massage is down to how advanced the content of the course will be. The higher the level, the more difficult it is to gain the qualification.

There are plenty of different individual qualifications within each level. However, to give you an idea of how these levels compare to their other educational counterparts, we’ll break these down:

  • GCSE grades at 3-1 or D-G are Ofqual Level 1
  • GCSE grades at 9-4 or A*-C are Ofqual Level 2
  • A Level or AS Level are Ofqual Level 3
  • Certificate of Higher Education or NVQ Level 4 is Ofqual Level 4
  • Diploma of Higher Education or foundation degree is Ofqual Level 5
  • A degree with or without honours is Ofqual Level 6
  • Master degree or PGCE is Ofqual Level 7
  • A doctorate or level 8 diploma is Ofqual Level 8

As the Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy Course is the equivalent of completing an A-Level, this is why it’s important to have different levels.

It allows students to slowly build and develop their knowledge by creating the foundation with a general overview and deepening this as they progress through the higher levels, such as the Level 4 SMT course.


Students must build their way from introductory modules to more advanced subjects. Think of it this way – you wouldn’t give someone Grade 8 piano pieces to play during their introductory classes.

levels of sports massage study

This applies to sports massage therapy too, as students must build their way up to level 5 if they want to advance this far. However, most employers will only require level 3, unless the position is something more academic, such as a teacher or lecturer.

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Check out these articles to learn more about working in SMT:

Are There Level 1 Sports Massage Courses?

sports massage courses level 1

While there are no sports massage Level 1 courses, Level 2 sports massage courses do exist.

However, the minimum qualification most sports massage therapists hold is the Level 3 Sports Massage.

It isn’t necessary for students to study courses below the basic Level 3 Sports Massage as this equips you with plenty of foundational knowledge and skills required for employment.

For example, OriGym’s Level 3 Sports Massage Course doesn’t have entry requirements:

origym level 3 sports massage

This means students don’t need to have completed any previous courses to enrol on the course. As an entry-level course, this provides students with everything they need to kickstart a career as a sports massage therapist, meaning levels beneath this aren’t necessary.

As discussed earlier, these levels are given by Ofqual and have standard education equivalents, for example:

  • GCSE grades at 3-1 or D-G are Ofqual Level 1
  • GCSE grades at 9-4 or A*-C are Ofqual Level 2

Although these levels are still recognised, it’s unnecessary for there to be level 1 sports massage courses as all this information can be covered at level 3 without being done separately.

What Does A Level 3 Sports Massage Course Cover?

what do sports massage levels cover

To understand what sports massage involves, students enrol on a sports massage course to learn a foundational level of knowledge, they will be taught the essentials of providing sports massage, as well as understanding the principles of exercise and human physiology.

The Level 3 Sports Massage Course provides students with basic knowledge, preparing them with an entry level of skills for their career. At this basic level, students will learn about the anatomy and physiology of sports massage, as well as the principles of exercise, health, and fitness.

These courses also cover the professional practice of sports massage and the different types of treatment. This is crucial for learning injury management and rehabilitation techniques, and especially so for understanding which techniques should be used for certain injuries.


Knowing the difference between post-sporting and restorative treatments, which these courses will teach you, means you can accurately treat injuries and help clients heal quicker.

different sports massage levels

Having knowledge of anatomy and physiology is also vital for understanding how to correct posture and treat muscular imbalances in the body. This gives you introductory knowledge to the human body which will be expanded upon from level 4 onwards.

What Does a Level 4 Sports Massage Qualification Cover?

highest sports massage course levels

The Level 4 Sports Massage Qualification will build upon your existing theoretical knowledge, teaching you how to carry out specalist test that help to indeitfy causes, signs, and symptoms of common injuries.

Following this, you will advance your practical skills to ensure you know how to apply various advanced massage techniques, such as:

  • Frictions
  • Tapotement
  • Trigger Pointing
  • Soft Tissue Release
  • Connective Tissue Massage
  • Muscle Energy Techniques (METs)

Both of these aspects will develop yoiur clinical understanding and reasoning skills, informing how you create and implement successful treatment plans for injured clients,

Before You Go!

By understanding the differences between sports massage levels and where each one will lead you, this means you can now get started on your career in the fitness industry!

With our Level 3 Sports Massage Course, you’ll gain a greater understanding of the close relationship between sports massage and exercise. Knowing the effect certain exercises have on the body means you’ll be able to treat injuries at a greater level.

Download our course prospectus to find out more or enter your details below.

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About the Author: James Brady

James Brady OriGym Author
James graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. His desire to find a place where he could combine his passion for writing and love of fitness is what brought him to OriGym. He believes his passion for daily exercise, especially running, is imperative in keeping him motivated and productive. As a result, he has a particular interest in the psychology of health and fitness and the relationship between physical and mental health. Outside of work, James enjoys reading, swimming, playing tennis, rowing, writing short stories, and watching classic movies.

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