Sports Medicine Career Options

Sports medicine careers combine a love of athletics and fitness with a desire to heal the human body, or to see the body perform to its ultimate potential. People in this profession typically work with athletes in high school, college or professional athletics. Most careers require at least a bachelor’s degree, with additional specialized training often necessary.

Popular Sports Medicine Careers

Some of the more popular sports medicine careers include:

Physician. Some medical doctors choose specialties that focus on aspects of health related to sports medicine. Physicians with training in primary care sports medicine, cardiology and orthopedic surgery may choose to focus on treating athletes from amateurs to professionals. Education requirements are the same as those for any medical doctor.

Athletic trainer. Part of the medical team that treats injuries related to sports and exercise activity. Most jobs are with high school, college or professional athletic teams. To be certified, students must earn an undergraduate degree from a properly accredited program before sitting for an exam from the V.

Physical or occupational therapist. Physical therapists help people recover from illness or injury that affects the muscles, bones, nerves or joints. Occupational therapists help people with physical, mental, developmental or emotional disabilities to better perform home or workplace activities . Both of these professions offer specialized training in sports medicine for those who seek it. A master’s degree is now the minimum for these fields.

Exercise physiologist. Study an athlete’s physiological response and adaptation to physical activity, then try to improve the athlete’s performance, or level of health and fitness. Increasingly, exercise physiologists also work with non athletes to improve the quality of day-to-day life. An undergraduate degree is the minimum, with certification improving the odds of landing a job.

Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist. Health specialists (such as exercise physiologists, nurses, physical therapists or respiratory therapists) who provide exercise instruction to patients with cardiac or pulmonary disease. Most work in hospitals, clinics and certain types of fitness centers. An undergraduate degree is the minimum, but those with advanced degrees and specialty certification will have improved job prospects.

Dietitian/sports nutritionist. Study the eating patterns of athletes and provide meal plans intended to boost performance and overall health. An undergraduate degree is necessary, followed by an internship and passage of the American Dietetics Association certification exam. Diets such as the banting diet and Paleo diet are generally invented by nutritionists.

Strength and conditioning coach. Work with high school, college and professional athletes to boost athletic performance. These coaches focus on improving an athlete’s agility, endurance, flexibility, power, speed and strength. A master’s degree and specialized certification typically are required.

Salaries for Sports Medicine Careers

Salaries vary widely for sports medicine careers. Some professionals may start with pay as low as R15 000 per month, while salaries for physicians can reach beyond six figures.

Advanced levels of education and certification should result in higher pay and improved job prospects.

Sports medicine careers are the perfect choice for people who love both fitness and health care. These jobs require different levels of education and offer a wide range of salaries. The variety of jobs available means almost anyone can find a career path matching his or her skills and desires.