Sports medicine professionals provide instruction and support to fitness fans, from entry-level exercisers to serious athletes. Related occupations include personal trainers, group fitness instructors, and athletic coaches. While duties vary tremendously from one sport medicine career to the next, all focus on providing clients or athletes with the knowledge they need to get in shape and maintain good health.
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How to Start your Sports Medicine Career
Sport medicine training requirements vary, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most professionals must be certified to work in their field. Personal trainers must be certified before working with clients; for instance, group fitness instructors might be able to begin teaching without certification, but are often encouraged or required to become certified later. While a specialized training program is often sufficient, the BLS also notes that many employers now require a bachelor's degree in a related field. While it's not always a set rule, most athletic coaches and sports instructors are required to hold sports medicine bachelor's degrees, particularly when working at a secondary school or beyond.
According to the BLS, in 2008 the median annual income of a fitness trainer or instructor was $29,210, with the middle 50 percent earning between $19,610 and $44,420. The median salary for athletic coaches was $28,340, but depended greatly on the competitive level of their athletes.
The BLS reports that sport medicine careers are expected to grow much faster than the national average for all careers, thanks to continued growth in health clubs and fitness centers. Prospects will be best for coaches in lower levels of competition.