Sports Medicine Professions: Overview of Career Education Programs

Sports medicine degrees prepare students to inspect and treat injuries in people. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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A degree in sports medicine can pave the way for a career in a variety of fields, including physical therapy, massage therapy or working as a trainer. Sports medicine degrees range from an associate's up to a PhD, and each affords different opportunities. Physical therapists, massage therapists and fitness trainers all use their knowledge in different ways to work with people and their bodies, and improve their physical wellness.

Essential Information

The great thing about sports medicine degrees is that students have many areas to specialize in. For instance, students can interact and help athletes by becoming an athletic trainer. Students looking to help people lose weight can become a fitness trainer. A lot of universities today provide programs in sports medicine, offering associate and bachelor degrees. Some schools even offer certifications, and students can expect to work in different environments like a university, public school or athletic facility. Students looking to get their bachelor's degree can expect to take courses like exercise leadership, applied kinesiology and strength training. Master and doctoral degrees in this field give students the chance to choose a specialization and work in a clinical environment.

Career Physical Therapist Massage Therapist Fitness Trainer
Education Requirements Doctoral or professional degree Postsecondary non-degree award High school diploma or equivalent
Other Requirements Must have license Licensure or certification may be required Certification preferred
Job Growth (2014-24)* 34% 22% 8%
Mean Salary (2015)* $85,790 $43,170 $40,970

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Careers in sports medicine combine both sports and medicine in hopes of bettering the lives of people. Students can work in many environments, and can even open up their own practice if they have an advanced degree. Below are descriptions and overviews of possible careers for sports medicine graduates.

Physical Therapist

As a physical therapist, individuals review their patients' medical history and access their injuries. Their overall goal is to improve their patients' movement and decrease their pain. Goals are set up for patients, so they have something tangible to work towards every week for their recovery. Plans can be modified if they are deemed to be ineffective. Hands-on therapy, stretching techniques and state-of-the-art equipment are used to speed up a patient's recovery. According to the BLS, these therapists earn a mean annual salary of $85,790, as of May 2015. It also states that employment opportunities for this career from 2014-2024 are expected to grow rapidly at a rate of 34%.

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Massage Therapist

Through special techniques, massage therapist can alleviate pain in their clients' body, whether it's with the back, neck or lower body. First, these therapists talk with the client, seeing what their medical history and desired results are. Different massage techniques are utilized, such as a Swedish massage or a hot stone massage. Each patient's progress is documented, helping the therapist see what techniques they are responding best to. In order to be admitted into a massage therapist program, students must have at least their high school diploma or equivalent. According to the BLS, these therapists make a mean annual salary of $43,170 in May 2015. Employment growth for this career is expected to grow 22% between 2014-2024.

Fitness Trainer

Fitness trainers focus on motivating people to reach their weight loss goals. Group exercises are led by these professionals, whether they relate to cardio or strength building. Throughout each exercise, these trainers observe their clients to make sure they are doing everything perfectly. This is important because it helps speed up results and prevents injuries from unfolding. Fitness trainers also provide useful information to their clients, such as nutritional facts and lifestyle issues. These professionals typically work at health clubs, gyms or recreational centers. As of May 2015, the BLS reports that these professionals make a mean salary of $40,970 per year. Employment opportunities for this career are expected to grow 8% from 2014-2024.

A career in sports medicine combines knowledge of athletics and medicine in order to work with people and their bodies in order to reduce pain, heal injury and increase wellness or fitness. Jobs in the sports medicine field include working as a fitness trainer, which may require certification, as a massage therapist, which typically requires a postsecondary non-degree award, or as a physical therapist, which requires a doctoral degree and licensure.

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