Salaries for Practitioners of Sports Medicine

How much money do rehabilitative therapists make?

Salaries for those entering or already working in sports medicine can vary greatly. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the mean, or average, wage in the field is $45,730 as of May 2014. However, pay can be affected by a number of factors including location, type of employer and work setting, level of experience, educational credentials and level of responsibility. That's why the BLS also reports the average earnings for the lowest and highest 10 percent of professionals working in the field to be, respectively, $27,610 and $67,060 as of May 2014.

However, those are the wages listed for fitness trainers. Sports medicine and rehabilitative therapy can also fall into a vast number of other occupations, including physical therapist, physical therapist aide, physical therapist assistant and exercise physiologist, for which the mean annual wages, as of May 2014, were $83,940, $26,660, $54,330 and $49,040, respectively, according to the BLS.

Learn more about sports medicine degrees.

Is this profession in high demand?

The BLS reports that job opportunities for athletic trainers and exercise physiologists are expected to grow by 19 percent from 2012 to 2022. This is growth that is faster than average, compared to all occupations, and could lead to 5,400 new positions opening up during this time across the country. Part of the increase in demand is expected to come from youth leagues, colleges and universities that can use athletic trainers to better prepare athletes for activities and prevent injuries.

Athletic trainers can also be important on the field since they are often among the first to respond if an injury occurs. They should be knowledgeable about the symptoms of a concussion as well as be able to immediately assist with other common athletic injuries. Other factors driving demand include the middle-aged and elderly who are becoming more active and may need help in staying mobile, recovering from injuries or strengthening and improving their overall condition. Professionals from athletic trainers to physical therapists can help to provide services, advice and healing to these patients.

Is there room for advancement?

If you want to optimize your chances of succeeding in the field of sports medicine, getting hands-on experience is key. Getting exposed to the practice of sports medicine in a variety of settings -- a school athletic program, a health club, a clinic, a training facility -- will make you more attractive to potential employers and more qualified to perform a wide range of sports medicine jobs. Taking your education seriously is another important step toward career success in sports medicine. The better your grades and the better your credentials, the more sports medicine career opportunities you will find after you graduate and become certified in your specific profession. Take advantage of internships and clinical instruction while you are in school so that you can get as much practical experience as possible.

Also, certification can be another way to be more competitive in the field. A number of organizations ranging from the Board of Certification, Inc., to the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) offer opportunities for credentialing. These organizations may also provide networking, presentations, conferences and other opportunities advantageous to advancing in a career.


  1. Athletic Trainers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes299091.htm
  2. Athletic Trainers and Exercise Physiologists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Jan. 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/athletic-trainers-and-exercise-physiologists.htm#tab-6
  3. Exercise Physiologists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291128.htm
  4. Physical Therapists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291123.htm
  5. Physical Therapist Aides, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes312022.htm
  6. Physical Therapist Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes312021.htm

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            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
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