Discovering the Right Sports Medicine Career
Are you ready to jump into an exciting career filled with energized people? Jobs in sport medicine are fast growing.
A sports medicine career can put you into the action, even if you are on the sideline instead of actually in the middle of the game.
What is Sports Medicine?
Before listing career opportunities it is important you have a good understanding exactly what sports medicine is.
A sports medicine career is the study and practice of skills and techniques for the medical treatment and therapy for individuals who participate in sports or physical activity.
The definition is actually quite broad. Sports medicine techniques are used for the treatment of injuries sustained through all types of physical activity which can include:
- Sore Muscles from Weight Lifting
- Broken Bones or Injured Joints from Contact Sports
- Strained Backs from an Over Zealous Golf Swing
- Minor Impact Injuries from Aerobics Classes
- Torn Ligaments of a Professional Baseball Pitcher
- Treatment of a Sprained Ankle
If you see a professional treating a sports or exercise related injury it can be considered under the umbrella of sports medicine.
Is A Sports Medicine Career Right For You
The Variety of Careers in Sports Medicine
As you may be guessing from the broad, and somewhat vague, definition of sports medicine, the careers in sports medicine can cover a wide range of choices. Here are some of the more popular titles you may run across:
- Sports Medicine Physician
- Physical Therapist
- Athletic Trainer
- Massage Therapist
- Exercise Physiologists
- Certified Personal Trainer
- Certified Health Fitness Specialist
- Sports Nutritionist
Along with this wide variety of titles comes a large disparity in wages, too. At the pinnacle of wages in sports medicine jobs is the sports medicine physician with trainers being towards the lower end of the spectrum. Here are some median salaries for a variety of jobs in sports medicine:
- Sports Medicine Physician – $240,648
- Physical Therapist – $74,336
- Athletic Trainer – $38,972
- Massage Therapist – $42,737
- Chiropractor – $129,420
- Exercise Physiologist – $44,849
- Certified Personal Trainer – $52,750
- Sports Nutritionist – $52,867
As becomes very obvious from these salary figures sports medicine has a highly variable range of salaries. Depending on your level of education, experience, and specialty you can expect to make anywhere from an average income to very high income levels.
The Educational Requirements of a Sports Medicine Career
Careers in sports medicine can have a wide variety of educational requirements depending on your specialty. Let us examine a few of the sports medicine jobs and their educational demands.
Sports Medicine Physician – This broad specialty of medicine will require the following educational requirements:
- 4 Year Bachelor of Science Degree in Pre-Med or Science
- 4 Years of Medical School
- 3-5 Years of Residency
- Multiple years of fellowship depending on specialty.
Sports Physical Therapist – This specialized form of physical therapy is also highly demanding in educational requirements, but the rewards are high. Physical therapists usually have less stress and work less hours per week than the average physician. The education requirements at Colleges for Physical Therapy include:
- 4 Year Bachelors Degree
- 3 Years Doctor of Physical Therapy education. (Note: Some programs allow a 3+3 program where one year of physical therapy education replaces a year of your Bachelor Degree requirements.)
Sports Massage Therapist –This is a loosely regulated position which is usually licensed on a state level. Two examples of requirements for a massage therapist are:
- Florida – 500 Hours Training – Passing of licensing exam.
- New York – 1000 Hours Training – Pass State Exam.
This is one of the easiest educational directions to start your career in sports medicine. Many of the job openings will be found in fitness centers and spas with pay being based upon a percentage of sales.
Personal Trainer Career – Educational requirements on this position vary greatly. You can find courses through universities, trade schools, and online educational classes. You should check your local state requirements. Often the most important requirement is your own extreme level of fitness, knowledge of exercise mechanics, and ability to motivate.
Steps Towards A Sports Medical Career
Step1: Concentrate on science subjects in high school: If you want to specialize in the field of sports medicine, then pay special attention towards those biology classes. When you start your sports medicine career then you have to heal the patients who are injured, so it’s critical that you learn physiology, anatomy, chemistry and other subjects related to life science because they are closely related to sports medicine.
Step 2: Choose the right college: Choose the right sports medicine colleges that provide depth and assortment in some of the following areas; anatomy, biology, chemistry and physiology When evaluating the top sports medicine universities, get the proper information about the required courses needed to complete your sports medicine major as there are various courses related to jobs in sports medicine such as physiotherapy, message therapy, orthopedics, etc. Select the area of specialization based on your interest and ability for a successful sports medicine career.
Step 3: Choose your career: Decide if you want to be a private medical practitioner such as a career as a sports therapist search for jobs or work as a fitness trainer. If you want to be a fitness trainer and provide intense coaching to the athletes, then you must complete a short-term diploma in sports medicine.
If you wish to seek a job, then you must complete a bachelor’s degree and if you wish to become a private medical practitioner then you must acquire many years of experience in a university that is associated with sports medicine.
Step 4: Post education: After you complete your sports medicine education, then you can start working as a group exercise instructor, athletic trainer, biomechanist, exercise physiologist, etc. As a group instructor you provide training to various kinds of individuals such as old, weak, arthritis patients, or even pregnant woman to stay fit and healthy.
You provide them training at various levels depending upon their age, body weight, fitness level etc. As an athletic trainer you could provide fitness training to athletic teams.
If you want to be an Athletic trainer then you must be attain an undergraduate Degree from CAAHEP and then appear for National Athletic Trainers Association.
You can also become a biomechanist by deeply studying the subjects of physics, orthopedics, and sports. The biomechanist professionals deal with athletes with injuries by providing them with various types of treatment.
The choice for people seeking a sports medicine career is really wide. Anybody who specializes in sports science, whether a diploma holder or a person who has attained a PhD degree can earn good sports medicine salary.
After completing a PhD degree you can work as a researcher and conduct deep studies on human body, their function and how to vitalize your body.
A sports medicine career does not always mean going to 4 years or more of school. As you can see in the examples of a massage therapist or trainer the requirements can be much lower. The difference will be in your earning potential and ability to specialize.
Choosing to pursue a sports medicine career offers not only great income opportunities, but unique opportunities to serve in a career you love.