Are you wondering what types of jobs there are in sports medicine? Athletics isn’t just about improving your moves so you can perform them flawlessly. It’s also about honing the primary tool for achieving your goals, your body, and making sure it remains healthy and in tip-top shape. That’s what sports medicine is all about. The following are just some of the jobs are involved with that discipline, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
1. Athletic Trainer
Athletic trainers, who are medical professionals, shouldn’t be confused with personal trainers or exercise instructors, who teach sports movements. Athletic trainers prevent and treats sports injuries by working with athletes, coaches, physical therapists, and doctors. The typical minimum education is a college degree and most states require licensing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics sees jobs for this profession increasing by 21 percent from 2012 to 2022. This is higher than the 14 percent growth predicted for all jobs in the country. The growth will be due to the growing awareness of sports risk, particularly among children and teens.
2. Physical Therapist
Physical therapists improve movement in an individual who suffers from injuries or disease. They can use exercise, manual manipulation, stretching, and specialized equipment to relieve pain and increase physical abilities. A physical therapist needs at least a master’s degree as well as state licensing. Employment for this career is predicted to jump by 36 percent. This is due to an aging American population. Older people experience more physical problems that can be improved by therapy.
Because the human body needs food to survive, nutritionists advise individuals and teams on the best diets to consume. They take into account the goals of the individual and may plan one meal or an entire sports season of menus. Nutritionists, who are also called dietitians, need an undergraduate degree and certification from the American Dietetics Association. Jobs should grow by about 21 percent. This because of growing interest in how diet can improve health and prevent disease.
Biomechanists research how physical activity and sport are affected by physics, and how the different systems of the body, such as the muscles and bones, are injured or can be improved. A master’s degree is the usual minimal requirement. Employments is projected to rise by 27 percent due to an aging population that wants to stay active.’
5. Medical Doctor
Doctors diagnose disease and injury, and prescribe treatment that can involve medicine, physical therapy, hospitalization, or surgery. They may supervise sports medicine programs and work with other sports professionals. Their training is the most rigorous of any type of job in sport medicine, requiring at least four years of medical school beyond the undergraduate degrees. Those specializing in sports medicine may undergo three to five years of residency/internship, and possibly two more years of fellowship training. Job increases vary by specialty. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that all doctors will enjoy employment growth of 18 percent. The increase is because of an aging population that requires more medical attention.
If you enjoy participating in sports or exercise, like to help people improve their abilities through the use of medical science, and like to investigate problems and find solutions, then finding jobs in sports medicine may be for you.
6. Exercise Physiologist
Exercise physiologists have one of the sports medicine jobs that focuses on the biomechanics of athletic movement. Exercise physiologists perform medical tests to measure vital signs like blood pressure and oxygen level to identify athletes’ health risks. Exercise physiologists utilize this data to customize fitness plans that boost athletes’ sport performance. Exercise physiologists need at least bachelor’s degrees related to exercise science. Most are certified by the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP). The Bureau of Labor Statistics foresees 10 percent growth for 1,500 new exercise physiology jobs by 2028. Exercise physiologists receive mean annual pay of $54,750.
7. Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Strength and conditioning specialists are sports medicine professionals who help competitive athletes tone muscles. S&C specialists teach athletes the proper form for weight lifting and aerobic exercise to build endurance. Strength and conditioning specialists use gym equipment, such as dumbbells, body bars, and dip stands, to make athletes stronger. Most teams hire S&C specialists with associate or bachelor’s degrees. Getting certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is suggested. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 13 percent job growth by 2028 for all fitness trainers. In May 2019, S&C specialists reported a mean yearly wage of $45,110.
8. Orthopedic Nurse
Orthopedic nurses are sports medicine RNs who specialize in helping athletes recuperate from musculoskeletal injuries. Orthopedic nurses coordinate the daily inpatient or outpatient care for hurt athletes. Orthopedic nurses assist physicians by applying casts, dressing wounds, and administering painkillers. RNs also provide follow-up care for athletes after orthopedic surgery. Becoming a registered nurse requires earning an associate or bachelor’s degree and passing the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the employment of nurses will jump 12 percent for 371,500 openings. Orthopedic nurses collect a median annual salary of $77,460.
9. Sports Psychologist
Sports psychologists are mental health professionals who are concerned with athletes’ minds rather than bodies. Sports psychologists give athletes coping strategies to deal with the pressure and anxiety of competition. Sports psychologists use practices like mindfulness meditation and behavioral therapy to help athletes reach their fullest potential. Most sports psychology jobs require a master’s or doctoral degree and fieldwork. The Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) also offers certification. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the demand for psychologists will rise 14 percent for 26,100 jobs. Sports psychologists earn an average yearly income of $98,230.
Chiropractors have one of the alternative sports medicine jobs that use non-invasive means to relieve athletic injuries. Chiropractors have a hands-on approach to manipulate and adjust misaligned musculoskeletal parts. Chiropractors offer all-natural, homeopathic remedies to heal pain in muscles, joints, and ligaments. Chiropractors choose rehabilitative therapies and lifestyle changes over drugs. Chiropractors must complete a four-year Doctor of Chiropractic degree and pass the NBCE exam for licensing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the hiring of chiropractors will increase 7 percent for 3,700 jobs by 2028. Chiropractors enjoy mean annual earnings of $85,010.
11. Massage Therapist
Massage therapists are sports medicine team members who soothe the aches and pains of minor athletic injuries or muscle overuse. Massage therapy is an Eastern medical practice that uses touch to knead and manipulate the body’s soft tissues. Massage therapists are well-versed in diverse modalities, including sports massage, to improve athletes’ wellness. Massages make athletes less tense and more flexible. Massage therapists only need a post-secondary certificate and passing MBLEx exam scores. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 35,400 new massage therapy jobs for rapid 22 percent growth. Massage therapists are given median compensation of $47,180 per year.
12. Orthopedic Surgeon
Orthopedic surgeons are sports medicine doctors who conduct invasive procedures to fix serious athletic injuries. Orthopedic surgeons work in operating rooms to correct broken or deformed bones, muscles, tendons, joints, and more. Orthopedic surgeons also treat the symptoms of diseases like scoliosis, osteoporosis, carpal tunnel, and fibromyalgia. Becoming an orthopedic surgeon takes at least 12 years with a bachelor’s and Doctor of Medicine degree plus residencies before the USMLE licensing exam. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists 1 percent job growth for 500 more surgery jobs by 2020. Orthopedic surgeons boast an average yearly salary of $252,040.
13. Recreational Therapist
Recreational therapists are medical professionals who develop sports-based treatments to improve the well-being of non-athletes. Recreational therapists help patients of all ages gain valuable motor skills through sports, such as swimming, kayaking, fishing, jogging, or golfing. Recreational therapists tailor unique interventions to keep patients with disabilities, acute injuries, or chronic illnesses active and independent. Therapists need a recreation bachelor’s degree, 560 internship hours, and good NCTRC exam scores to practice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates 7 percent growth for 1,400 recreational therapy jobs. Recreational therapists reap mean annual earnings of $51,130.
14. Physical Therapy Assistant
Physical therapy assistants are sports medicine aides who guide patients through prescribed exercise activities. Physical therapy assistants must be supervised while treating injured, disabled, or ill patients. Physical therapy assistants use gym equipment and assistive tech to help patients regain pain-free movement. Physical therapy assistants graduate from two-year, CAPTE-accredited associate programs. Assistants then get licensed by taking the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) exam. The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated high 27 percent growth for 26,700 new jobs. Physical therapy assistants make a median wage of $58,520 each year.
15. Sports Psychiatrist
Sports psychiatrists are licensed physicians who treat mental illnesses in athletes to enhance their field or court performance. Founded in 1992, sports psychiatry is becoming one of the hottest sports medicine jobs as the stigma of mental health disorders wanes. Sports psychiatrists can prescribe drugs and conduct psychotherapy. Psychiatrists treat athletes with anxiety, addiction, anorexia, ADHD, and more. Sports psychiatrists earn a Doctor of Medicine degree, finish residency training, and get state licensing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics features fast 16 percent growth for 4,500 psychiatry positions. Sports psychiatrists benefit from an average annual income of $220,380.
Kinesiotherapists are body movement specialists who aid sports medicine programs by tailoring fitness routines. Kinesiotherapists utilize their understanding of biomechanisms for athletic movement education. Kinesiotherapists treat wide-ranging ailments by controlling athletes’ active and passive muscle movements. Kinesiotherapists get athletes back in the game by improving strength and stamina. Kinesiotherapists generally need a master’s degree in kinesiology. Certification by the American Kinesiotherapy Association also helps. The Bureau of Labor Statistics counts 500 new kinesiotherapy jobs for 10 percent growth. Kinesiotherapists get mean yearly pay of $60,877.
17. Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner
Orthopedic nurse practitioners are advanced practice RNs who can independently treat mild to moderate sports injuries. Orthopedic NPs aid sports medicine by conducting physical exams and tests to diagnose athletes’ ailments. Orthopedic nurse practitioners have prescribing power to order non-surgical treatments to heal musculoskeletal conditions. Orthopedic NPs must graduate with Master of Science in Nursing degrees. The Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board (ONCB) provides further credentialing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics sees nurse practitioner jobs skyrocketing by 53,300 or 28 percent. Orthopedic nurse practitioners claim a median annual salary of $109,820.
18. Biomedical Engineer
Biomedical engineers can join sports medicine teams to develop better equipment that treats or prevents athletic injuries. Biomedical engineers create prototypes from scratch for gear and assistive technologies that enhance sports performance. For instance, biomedical engineers could design leg braces, helmets, shin guards, masks, and sports wheelchairs. Biomedical engineers even build artificial joints and limbs for orthopedic surgeons. Biomedical engineers need an ABET-accredited bachelor’s degree or higher. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 4 percent growth for 700 new biomedical engineering jobs. Biomedical engineers cash in average yearly profits of $95,090.
When you want to know how things really work, study them when they’re coming apart. – William Gibson
19. Physician Assistant
Physician assistants are sports medicine staff who support doctors in the treatment of athletes’ injuries and illnesses. Physician assistants are qualified to conduct x-rays, test for concussions, and set broken bones. Physician assistants help athletes manage chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes with healthy lifestyle habits. Physician assistants also prescribe medicines and supplements to legally aid sports performance. Physician assistants need master’s degrees and PANCE certification exam scores. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects much-faster-than-average growth of 31 percent for 37,000 jobs. Physician assistants are rewarded with $112,410 mean annual revenue.
20. Sports Medicine Professor
Sports medicine professors are med school faculty who teach post-grads and residents how to restore athletic function. Sports medicine professors inspire the next generation of medical doctors for clinical practice. Sports medicine professors design course curriculum, deliver engaging lessons, run lab simulations, and supervise field practicum. Sports medicine professors must possess an academic or clinical doctorate. Many hold certification from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 23 percent growth for 59,100 medical faculty jobs. Sports medicine professors garner median yearly earnings of $122,320.
Sports medicine jobs are as diverse as the sports in North America’s $71.1 billion market. Virtually any health care providers can specialize in treating athletes in the sports arena. For example, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists can assist athletes who suffer from heart or lung difficulties like chronic bronchitis. Occupational physiologists may teach athletes how to regain everyday life skills after suffering debilitating injuries like TBIs. Sports dentists use their oral health licensure to respond to facial trauma and minimize or prevent tooth loss. Sports EMS technicians are also vigilant on the sidelines to render first aid and transport injured athletes to hospitals.