3 Common Questions About Sports Medicine Training
Physical exercise, recreation, and athletics play a major role in keeping Americans healthy and providing beneficial outlets for entertainment and community bonding. But all of that activity comes with some risk.
For instance, each year, about 12 million youth in the U.S. between age 5 and 22 get injured from playing sports.* And millions of others above that age group experience the same thing, including many amateur and professional athletes.
Simply put, the human body is capable of performing many remarkable feats. But it requires proper fuel and conditioning to pull them off. And it often needs time to heal and recover. That's why knowledgeable sports, fitness, and rehab professionals are so important. They help us "stay in the game."
Yet the sports medicine field isn't always that easy to get a handle on. So here are answers to a few of the most common questions related to going after a career in this sector:
1. What Exactly Do Sports Medicine Colleges Teach?
You're likely to find some variations from school to school. But vocational programs for this field are often fairly broad in the subjects they cover while also emphasizing practical ways to apply what you learn. In fact, many of the top sports medicine schools are known to teach students about areas such as:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Biomechanics and human movement (aka kinesiology)
- Nutrition and weight control
- Injury prevention and risk factors
- Sports psychology
- Sports-related massage therapy
- Fitness-level assessment
- Exercise planning
- Injury rehab
2. What Careers Can You Begin With a Sports Medicine Degree?
This type of education can allow you to go in a number of different directions. After just a few years or less of school, some of the most popular entry-level career options to pursue include:
- Fitness trainer or instructor—Help people improve their physical strength and cardiovascular conditioning by leading them through proper exercises, providing advice on food and lifestyle matters, tracking their progress, and offering encouragement. Employment of fitness trainers and instructors in the U.S. is projected to rise by 8.4 percent between 2014 and 2024.** In 2015, they earned $40,970, on average, for a year of work. But some made over $70,180.***
- Assistant athletic trainer—Work under the direction of an athletic trainer to help provide on-the-scene care and treatment to athletes who get injured or fall ill during practice or competition. Jobs for athletic trainers are expected to grow in number by 21 percent from 2014 to 2024.** The average salary for assistant athletic trainers is about $35,280.****
- Physical therapist aide—Help out with a lot of the basic duties in a physical therapy clinic, including assisting patients and setting up equipment. Between 2014 and 2024, the number of jobs for physical therapist aides is projected to increase by 39 percent.** On average, they made $27,440 in 2015. And some earned more than $38,040.***
- Coaching assistant—Contribute to the training and motivation of a sports team or individual athletes by helping other coaches do things like plan and carry out practices, track performances, and identify areas for improvement. From 2014 to 2024, the employment of coaches and scouts in the U.S. could grow by 5.9 percent.** They earned an average salary of $40,050 in 2015, with some making over $70,050.***
3. Where Can You Work If You Have a Sports Medicine Education?
Employment opportunities exist in many kinds of settings. You can often find them in places like:
- Schools (at every level)
- Gyms and fitness centers
- Community recreation centers
- Sports rehab clinics
- Physical therapy clinics
- Amateur sports organizations
- Training facilities for professional sports teams
- Orthopedic doctors' offices
- Hospitals with specialized facilities for cardiopulmonary rehab
- Athletic company marketing or research departments
- Corporate wellness departments
Discover Where to Go From Here
Take a moment to find out if any sports medicine colleges are in your area. By searching with your zip code, you can quickly see the options near you!
* U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, website last visited on December 14, 2016.
**Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, website last visited on March 11, 2016.
*** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on April 29, 2016.
**** PayScale, website last visited on June 9, 2015.