Learn more about careers in sports psychology. Find information on sports psychology careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers as sports psychologists.
Individuals pursuing a career in sports psychology are able to combine their love of sports with their love of psychology. In most states, professionals working in this field are required to obtain a Masters or Doctorate Degree in sports psychology as well as licensure for practice in clinical psychology or counseling practice. Those seeking a Masters Degree will be required to complete two to three years of additional course work in addition to creating an original thesis on a topic related to the field. Those completing a Doctorate Degree will need to complete an additional five years of course work and several hundred hours of clinical residency training.
After completing their education and training, professionals working in this field will be expected to provide expert services for sports organizations and athletes. In particular sports psychologists help individuals and organizations cope with the emotional demands of sports including stress, relaxation and managing limitations. In addition, these professionals help athletes and sports organizations set realistic performance and training goals. Through this process, sports psychologists work to build self-esteem and self-confidence. These skills can be important for the athlete or sports organization in overcoming obstacles to goal achievement such as injuries and building team cohesion.
After completing their training and education, sports psychologists can choose from a number of different career paths that commonly reflect the specific area of specialization for the professional. Careers for sports psychologists typically include positions in schools, professional sports organizations and with companies that provide athletic training. Some sports psychologists may also choose to work in private practice working one-on-one with athletes to provide motivation and support for obtaining performance and achievement goals. In professional sports organizations psychologists will work as part of a team to provide needed supports for both individual players and the team as a whole. In general, sports psychologists work with personal trainers, coaches and group leaders to build a comprehensive foundation for team functioning. Further, may large corporations will hire sports psychologists to provide wellness programs for employees. While these professionals do not work directly with athletes, they provide needed supports for motivation and achievement of health goals.
Salaries for sports psychologists vary based on the professional’s specific area of specialization and the particular organization in which the professional is employed. Psychologists working in professional sports organizations will command higher salaries than those employed as athletic trainers in fitness centers. Self-employed sports psychologists will be able to command higher salaries as a result of developing experience in the field and through establishment of a consistent client base. Presently, more than one-third of all sport psychologists working in the industry are self-employed. Because of the level of education required for professionals to practice in the field, salaries for sports psychologists are typically quite generous. Generally speaking, median annual salaries for sport psychologist were $86,000 in 2008. Some professionals working in upper echelons of the field command salaries as high as $150,000 annually. Extensive experience in the field will provide the professional with the ability to command a higher salary.
The job outlook for sports psychology is average overall. Projected growth in the industry is 12 percent though 2018. This is on par with average growth in all other industries. The principle challenge for filling positions in sports psychology lies with the extensive amount of education required by professionals. Because of the level of education needed for sports psychology, there is often a shortage of qualified professionals to fill existing jobs. An emphasis on healthy lifestyles and promotion of physical activity in children and young adults will also fuel demand for professionals in this field. In particular, demand for personal trainers will increase in the coming years along with the need for more physical therapists. Interest in health and wellness as critical issues for employee and organizational success will also fuel an increased demand for sports psychologists in corporations. Individuals with the requisite education should have numerous opportunities for employment.