What Can I Do with a Degree in Sports Medicine?

Learn more about what you can do with a degree in sports medicine. Find information on sports medicine careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers in sports medicine.


Sports have become an important part of our culture. From basketball and football to swimming and kayaking, sports are everywhere. While many of us may choose to engage in sports as a recreational activity, for those that compete as professional athletes, achieving optimal health and preventing injury can be significant issues of concern. Although healthcare professionals can provide support for athletes following injury, sports injuries often require special consideration. Specifically, sports injuries are typically managed by a sports medicine professional, trained to understand the unique needs of the athlete. Individuals working in this field include medical doctors that are uniquely trained to help athletes prevent and recover from injury as well as trainers and physical therapists that help sports professionals achieve optimal health outcomes.

Because of the growing popularity of sports for both professionals and laymen, sports medicine is a growing field that can provide important resources for those interested in improving overall health. Personal trainers, for instance, may provide individuals with the resources needed to achieve optimal physical well being through exercise. Even though these professionals do not specifically work with athletes, they are responsible for providing needed supports to prevent injury and help the client achieve the best possible health outcomes.


Sports medicine is a broad field that includes a number of different career paths. In general, the knowledge needed to enter into this field will require the individual to seek some type of post-secondary education. Most professionals working in the field must have basic knowledge of human anatomy, kinesiology and exercise physiology. Based on this knowledge, professionals are able to provide important supports for athletes or any individual seeking to engage in exercise to improve health, fitness and well being. Some of the most common career paths for sports medicine include: sports medicine physician, physical therapist, athletic or personal trainer, massage therapist, exercise physiologist, sports nutritionist and kinesiotherapist. Each of these professionals will require different levels of post-secondary education and training. For instance, a sports medicine physician will be required to complete medical school and acquire and MD before becoming licensed in the field. Physical therapists, on the other hand, require a Bachelors or Masters Degree and licensure in order to work in the field.

Industry Salary Info

Salaries for sports medicine professionals vary widely depending on the professional’s job title and level of education. Salaries also vary based on the specific organization in which the individual is employed. For instance, sports medicine physicians working with established sports organizations (e.g., the Miami Dolphins or the Pittsburgh Penguins) can command salaries of up to $700,000. While this figure represents the upper level of the pay scale, sports medicine physicians earn on average $240,648 annually. Overall, physicians working in the field command the highest salaries. Other professionals working in sports medicines do, however, typically earn generous wages. For example, physical therapists working in sports medicine have median annual incomes of $74,336 while athletic trainers have medina annual incomes of $52,750. Sports nutritionists have median annual salaries of $52,867. Most of the positions in this field are full-time providing the professional with access to benefits such as health insurance, paid vacation and paid time off.

Job Outlook

The overall job outlook for professionals working in sports medicine is quite robust. The number of jobs in this field is expected to increase in the coming years. Advances in research focused on sports medicine have enabled professional sports organizations to better understand the particular needs of athletes in order to optimize training regimens. As research in this area continues to expand, more professionals will be needed to meet the needs of professional athletes. Additionally growth in the field is expected as cultural attitudes towards sports and physical activity shift. More individuals are engaging in sports on a recreational basis to improve health and fitness levels. Continued interest in these areas will prompt the need for more professionals in sports medicine. Professionals working in the field will also have increased job opportunities due to flexibility in education and training. Professionals trained as massage therapists for athletes will also be able to use their skills for providing services to a wide range of patient groups.

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