Sports Doctor: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a sports medicine doctor. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Kinesiology & Sport Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Sport's Medicine Doctor?

In today's age athletes make big money and can't afford to be out with an injury for very long. Sports medicine is important to help take care of these high priced professionals. Sports medicine doctors are specialist who work mostly with athletes from high school and college athletes to professional sports stars.They work treating sports related injuries like joints of the knees, shoulders or hips, torn ligaments, broken bones, neck injuries and especially concussions. Sport doctors earn a medical doctorate and spend years in internship working with other doctors and athletic patients.

As a sports medicine doctor, not only will you treat sports-related injuries, but you'll work with athletes to prevent further injuries. The following chart gives you an overview about educational and training requirements as well as job outlook for this career.

Degree Required Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
Training Required General medicine internship followed by 2-year sports medicine fellowship
Key Responsibilities Examine patients and make diagnosis; prescribe medication and therapeutic treatment and evaluate patient progress; order diagnostic testing and analyze results
Licensure and/or Certification All states require licensure; board certification in sports medicine is available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 14% for all physicians and surgeons*
Median Salary (2016) $216,299**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com

What is Sports Medicine?

Sports medicine is the healing of sports-related injuries. Along with the diagnosis and treatment of injuries, you'll work with patients on the prevention of injuries. Your primary focus is to help athletes safely gain optimal performance or return to their previous condition prior to their injury. Sports medicine requires knowledge of nutrition, biomedical engineering, physical therapy, exercise science, training and psychology.

What Type of Education Will I Need?

The best place to begin your education is with a degree in sports medicine. Sports medicine programs are often available for study at the undergraduate and master's level. Another route you can consider is a bachelor's degree in pre-med studies. These programs are heavy in science and math courses, preparing you to continue your education in medical school. Most sports doctors attend a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree program specializing in family and internal medicine.

There are two steps to completing your education; both require clinical experience in medicine. After you have received your M.D., you can then move onto a residency program at a medical center. Residency programs usually require working in an internal medicine department and going to teaching lectures before moving on to training in your specialty. After your residency, a 2-year fellowship with a sports medicine department or orthopedic clinic will provide you with clinical training in sports medicine with theory practicum. As a fellow, you learn how to treat injuries, work in orthopedics, use diagnostic equipment and perform stress tests.

Do I Need Licensure?

If you want to become a sports doctor and practice medicine, you'll need licensure. Currently the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) has three examination steps to acquiring licensure (www.usmle.org). The first two steps can be taken during medical school, while the third step must be taken upon graduation. There may be other prerequisites to obtaining a medical license, depending on the state in which you'll practice.

Can I Become Certified?

The American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine (www. aoasm.org) and the American Board of Medical Specialties (www.abms.org) offer board certification for sports doctors. Board certification in sports medicine indicates that a doctor has completed special training in sports medicine and meets the standardized requirements of the field.

How Much Can I Earn?

While information specifically on sports doctors was unavailable, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that physician and surgeons in general made an average of $197,700 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Salary.com reported that as of 2016, sports medicine doctors had a median salary of $216,299.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Sports doctors and related fields will include many of the medical specialties. They may choose to work in such areas like becoming a podiatrists, chiropractors, dentists, optometrists and veterinarians. All of these will require a doctorate as well as internship in the field. Then again they may choose to work in the sports field as a sports trainer or sports manager. These jobs require at least a bachelor's degree. Trainers work in direct relationship with coaches and sports physicians in making sure athletes are physically fit and ready to play. Sports managers work under the direction of the owners and oversee the daily running of a team from injured players to coaching changes.

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