Sports medicine is all about working with athletes to prevent and address injuries in order to achieve optimal performance. The field of sports medicine contains a variety of careers that can be tailored to the amount of education you want to pursue and the money you aim to earn.
Money isn’t everything thing, though, and you’re happiness and fulfillment should also be taken into account. So ask yourself, will you find it exciting to wake up each morning knowing you’ll be working with athletes and helping them optimize their performance? If so, then read on to learn more about common careers within the field of sports medicine and their potential earnings.
What Do Sports Medicine Majors Learn?
If you decide to pursue a career in sports medicine, you can expect to take a wide variety of classes. Individuals can focus their studies in sports medicine at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels of education. At the associate degree level, you can expect to take some foundational courses that will allow you to understand the basic concepts of sports medicine, such as anatomy and physiology, introduction to nutrition, and exercise physiology. Most associate degrees require students to complete 60 credit hours of education.
At the bachelor’s degree level, you’ll be expected to tackle more difficult concepts that allow you to understand conditions commonly encountered in sports medicine. Examples of classes you may be required to take include Psychological Aspects of Sport and Exercise, Biomechanics, and Statistics for the Health Professional, among others.
Those who choose to pursue a master’s in sports medicine may do so for a variety of reasons. For those not wanting to become physicians, this may be the highest degree that the student wishes to pursue, and is an excellent option for athletic trainers who wish to maximize their earning potential in their field. Those in a master’s of sports medicine program can expect to take classes such as Advanced Strength and Conditioning, Biomechanical Factors in Human Movement, Advanced Exercise Physiology, and many more.
A doctorate in sports medicine represents the pinnacle of the educational system in this discipline. Many individuals who decide to get a doctorate in sports medicine do so through a medical school. After the individual obtains a medical degree, they will complete a residency, after which they have the option to complete a one or two-year fellowship in sports medicine to become a sports medicine physician. Some individuals may not wish to pursue a medical degree and may find that their passion lies more in research. Students wishing to focus on research and wish to pursue a doctorate degree should consider enrolling in a PhD program.
What Careers Can I Have in Sports Medicine at Each Degree Level? What Can I Earn?
One of the most popular careers for those that complete an associate degree in sports medicine is to become an athletic trainer. Athletic trainers work with athletes to evaluate sports-related injuries, monitor recovery, and assess fitness and readiness when it comes time to play after an injury. On average, athletic trainers can expect to take home a median wage of $47,510 per year. Texas and California are the states that pay athletic trainers the best, with a median income of $57,930 and $56,910, respectively.
Those who choose to complete a bachelor’s degree may also want to consider becoming an athletic trainer, as 25% of all athletic trainers have a bachelor’s degree, and earning this degree will certainly put you ahead of the competition. A career as an occupational therapist is also another great option for those who want to pursue a sports medicine education. Occupational therapists work with those with disabilities, injuries, and illnesses to perform tasks more efficiently. Occupational therapists earn an average salary of $84,270 each year.
Sports medicine majors who earn a master’s degree may want to give serious consideration to becoming a physical therapist. Physical therapists work with athletes and all types of people with injuries to create and implement a rehabilitative program to regain normal mobility and function. When you become a physical therapist, you will likely earn an average income of just under $88,000 per year.
Pursuing a doctorate degree requires significant investments in time and money, but if you can make it through the process, you’ll be rewarded with financial security and the freedom and knowledge to treat any kind of sports-related injury. Sports medicine physicians earn just under $200,000 per year. If the high salary of $200,000 is very important to you, then you may want to avoid Oklahoma and Nebraska, as they are the states that offer some of the lowest median incomes for sports medicine physicians at around $115,000 per year.