Careers in Sports Medicine – A Guide

Global Employability

Every few decades or so, new careers emerge. While many of these are tied to advancements in technology and industry, there are those that take shape due to changes in our outlook towards life.

Take sports, for instance. It’s not new by any means, but playing, or rather aspiring to play professional sports has become more mainstream. Apart from schools paying more attention to it, there are myriad private institutions and centres that have sprung up in the last decade to cater to this growing field.

And where there’s growth, there are opportunities.

We examine it here today. Here’s what we’ll be exploring:

  • What is Sports Medicine?
  • Industries for Sports Medicine
  • Career Options in Sports Medicine
  • Sports medicine: a growing Market

First - what's sports medicine?

Sports medicine is the combination of general medical education with sports science, sports nutrition, sports psychology, exercise, physiology, biomechanics, and orthopedics. It is not a single career, rather a widely varied group of professionals who are concerned with the health and well-being of the athlete. Therefore, sports medicine in particular deals with physical fitness including the treatment and prevention of injuries that are related to sports and exercise.

Treatments that can be sought under sports medicine include:

  • Acute traumas (fractures, sprains, and dislocations)
  • Overuse injuries (tendonitis, overtraining syndrome, and degenerative diseases.

Simply put, whether it is about helping athletes (or other individuals) recover from injury or helping athletes improve their athletic performance, sports medicine is not ‘just’ confined to medicine alone. Under sports medicine, there are various medical and non-medical specialists involved, such as:

  • Athletic trainers
  • Sports psychologist
  • Nutritionists
  • Personal trainers
  • Coaches
  • Physical therapist
  • Physicians
  • Surgeons

Not just for athletes, sports medicine is also essential for patients with disabilities who are seeking to improve their physical capabilities; and/or for patients seeking more effective exercise programs.

Industries suitable for sports medicine

The importance of maintaining health and well-being is felt and maintained by individuals across all sectors or areas of interest. This is why the areas of employment for sports medicine have also broadened. Some of the industries/sectors suitable for sports medicine are:

  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
  • Spectator Sports
  • Elementary and Secondary Schools
  • Offices of Health Practitioners
  • Nursing Care Facilities
  • Home care Facilities

Top Sports Medicine Careers

Here’s a look at some of the top sports-medicine career options:

Team Physician (Sports Medicine Physician):

Qualification required:

  • Bachelor of Science (BS / BSc) inMedicine, Sports Medicine
  • Master of Science (MS)in Medicine, Sports Medicine
  • Ph.D.
What do they do:

  • Pre-participation physical examinations
  • Injury assessment and management
  • Medical coverage of athletic events
  • Injury prevention
  • Strength training and conditioning
  • Substance abuse
  • Educating and counselling coaches, administrators and family members on sports-related medical issues
Physical Therapist
Qualification required:
  • Bachelor of Science (BS / BSc) inPhysical Therapy (related healthcare fields)
  • Master of Science (MS) in Physical Therapy (related healthcare fields)
  • Ph.D.

What do they do:
  • Plan and administer medically prescribed physical therapy
  • Assess and interpret evaluations and test results
  • Plan physical therapy treatment in consultation with physicians or by prescription
  • Documents patient care services
  • Instructs patients in proper in-home exercises and therapies
  • Evaluates the use and fit of prosthetic and orthotic devices; recommend adjustments and modifications

Sports Psychologist

Qualification required:

  • Bachelor of Science (BS / BSc) in Psychology
  • Master of Science (MS)in Psychology
  • Ph.D.
What do they do:
  • Provide psychological counselling
  • Assess the mental state and physical performance of athletes
  • Diagnose and identify mental strengths and weaknesses caused by the athlete’s physical performance
  • Help athletes cope with pressures (on and off the field)
  • Carry out research to build knowledge in the field of sports psychology
  • Provide counsel and treat athletes with mental health disorders and problems
  • Provide counsel and treatindividuals with physical injuries from sports
  • Apply recent scientific concepts to improve athletic potential
(Sports & Fitness) Nutritionist

Qualification required:
  • Bachelor of Science (BS/ BSc) in Clinical Nutrition, Food and Nutrition
  • Master of Science (MS)in Nutrition,Exercise Physiology
  • Ph.D.
What do they do:
  • Assess diet and health needs of the athlete and make an appropriate meal plan
  • Counselathletes on achieving and maintaining a level of body mass, body fat, and muscle mass
  • Develop and counsel in hydration protocols
  • Counsel athletes on optimal nutrition for recovery from illness or injury
  • Provide clients with nutrition plans that increase stamina and endurance
  • Educate clients on post-workout recovery needs
  • Planmenus for training table and team travel
Exercise Physiologist
Qualification required:
  • Bachelor of Science (BS/ BSc) in Clinical Nutrition, Food and Nutrition
  • Master of Science (MS) in Nutrition,Exercise Physiology
  • Ph.D

What do they do:

  • Analyse medical history and current fitness level to plan an appropriate health and exercise regimen
  • Develop tailored fitness training programmes
  • Work in collaboration with other sport and exercise professionals
  • Monitor and reassess training plans on a regular basis
  • Produce reports and longitudinal studies
  • Stay updated with ongoing research
  • Raise awareness of health and fitness issues; promote the benefits of sport and exercise

Sports Medicine: A Growing Market

Projected to reach USD 9.1 billion by 2024 from USD 6.6 billion in 2019 (at a CAGR of 6.5%), the global sports medicine market is taking huge strides in gaining popularity. The rising popularity is being attributed to three common reasons by Reportlinker, i.e.,

  • Increase in sports injury
  • The continuous influx of new products and treatment modalities, and
  • Developments in the field of regenerative medicine.

Furthermore, the global sports market is also expecting significant growth at a CAGR of 8% from 2021 and reach $556.1 billion in 2023. In light of this, a career in sports medicine can be a rewarding one, if you have the interest.

Date added

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Global Employability


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