Top 5 Jobs in Sports Medicine, Health, and Fitness

When thinking of a career, are you drawn to working in sports medicine, health, and fitness? You can find a variety of jobs in sports, some requiring extensive education but others open to people without degrees. Explore these sports-related jobs.


Physical Therapist

physical therapist working on athlete
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Physical therapists are in demand and will be for some time. They treat a variety of injuries, but many specialize in the care and treatment of sports injuries. Those who focus on sports medicine and orthopedics work with both recreational and professional athletes.

Physical therapists in the United States now must graduate from a CAPTE-accredited Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program and pass a state licensure exam. In some programs, the bachelor and doctorate program are combined into a 3+3-year curriculum. In others, you are admitted with a bachelor's degree and then undertake the 3-year DPT program. You may spend an additional year in a residency program after attaining your DPT to learn a specialty. There are eight clinical specialty areas, including sports and orthopedics.

This length of education can be expensive, but if you serve with the Department of Veterans Affairs for a period of time after graduation you can benefit from loan-forgiveness programs.


Sports Medicine Physician

Sports medicine physicians have specialized training in the field of medicine that deals with sport or exercise-related injuries. Their primary focus is on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of injuries that occur during sports and other physical activity.

Most primary care sports medicine doctors complete a three-year primary medicine residency after medical school. Many then choose a fellowship in sports medicine for specialized training. An orthopedic surgery residency leads to a career as an orthopedic surgeon, many of whom treat athletes.


Certified Athletic Trainer — ATC

Certified Athletic Trainers are skilled professionals who work exclusively with athletes. Most work with sports teams on the high school and college level, but many now work in health clubs and with medical clinics. An ATC can help decide which injuries require a trip to a specialist, and can make the referral if necessary.


Coaches and Scouts

If you love sports and don't mind pressure, being a coach or scout can keep you in the game. Coaches need sports savvy, experience, and good communication skills.


Sports Psychologist

Sports psychology is a growing profession, and many athletes seek the services of psychologists, trainers, and coaches who can help them with the mental aspects of sports training. Elite athletes, professionals, and Olympians all have tremendous physical skills and research is finding that at these levels mental training skills (focus, relaxation, goal-setting and reducing anxiety) are critical in separating first from second place. More recently, recreational athletes are finding the mental training benefits them as well. Motivation, concentration, and focus are helpful for anyone wanting to achieve a goal, sports-related or not.

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