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What Are Some Sport Psychology Career Options?

Sports psychology is a sub-field of psychology that involves working with athletes to help them break through psychological obstacles that are keeping them from performing at their best. Continue reading to find out what some of the career options in sports psychology are.

Overview of Careers in Sports Psychology

As a sports psychologist, you could work with both professional and recreational athletes to assist them with the mental aspects of their training, such as reducing anxiety or improving focus. You may also find opportunities to work in other settings, such as rehabilitation programs, gyms, student athletic programs, or private practice.

Your career options may depend on the type of degree you have chosen to earn. Some programs are designed to prepare you for work in research or teaching, while others might prepare you to become a licensed psychologist. Graduate programs can be found through counseling or educational psychology degree programs with specializations in sports psychology. The following are some common careers in sports psychology.

Important Facts About Psychologists

Median Salary (2018) $79,010 (for psychologists in all career fields)
Entry-level Education Typically a doctoral degree
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 14% (for psychologists in all career fields)
Work Environment Private practice offices, clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, mental health facilities, research facilities, universities, government agencies

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Teaching

If you major in sports psychology, you may decide that teaching students is your best option. You could pursue a career as a professor at a college or university. A master's degree may be sufficient to teach at a 2-year college, while most research universities require a doctoral degree. Competition for university sports psychology professor positions is strong, but once you become a professor, you can work toward becoming a tenured faculty member in order to improve job security as well as your chances of becoming eligible for a higher salary.

Research

You may decide to go into sports psychology research after graduating with a master's or Ph.D. degree in sports psychology. Related research positions involve the study of stress and motivation and the ways in which they may affect athletic performance. As a sports psychology researcher, you could work with sports teams and individual athletes and apply your research findings to real-world settings.

Clinical Practice

Another common career for graduates of sport psychology programs is clinical practice or consultation. While working for sports teams or individual athletes, you could help to diagnose mental or emotional barriers that may inhibit athletic performance. Once you have determined the factors that are preventing peak performance, you could use psychological principles to help athletes overcome these obstacles. You might also work with sports teams to develop strategies for them to work as a cohesive unit. If you choose to become a consultant, you must have a strong background in both sports science and psychology.