Sports psychologist salary & career outlook

sports psychologist

by Kim Carter | August 18, 2011



Working as a sports psychologist, you would work to understand the psychological reasons and factors that influence people to participate in physical activity including sports and exercise. You may also work with athletes to understand how mental state and emotions can affect athletic performance.

Career outlook for sports psychologists

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job growth of psychology professionals is expected to grow by 12 percent from 2008 to 2018. Employment is expected to grow as more and more people seek psychological services. Job prospects are projected to be the best for professionals who have a doctoral degree in an applied specialty field.

Sports psychologists' jobs may vary on a daily basis, depending on clients' needs. Working as a professional sports psychologist you may encounter the following job duties:

  • Counseling athletes
  • Motivating clients to continue exercise and physical activity
  • Researching individual and group sports and exercise experiences
  • Volunteering or working as a sports coach in order to best understand the athletes' experiences and environment

Sport and exercise psychology is a growing and changing field with new information and research being obtained, so your job duties may vary depending on the needs of your employer.

Sports psychologist salary: 2009 statistics and the future

The BLS reports that the median annual salary for psychologists in 2009 was $86,540. The top-paying industries for psychology professionals in 2009 included:

  • Physician offices: $109,550 annual mean wage
  • Educational support services: $91,980 annual mean wage
  • Scientific research and developmental services: $91,260 annual mean wage
  • Individual and family services: $90,690 annual mean wage
  • General medical hospitals: $89,450 annual mean wage

There are many states that offer high-paying salaries for sports psychologists ranging from $91,360 to $101,100 annually. The top paying state for psychology professionals with ACCRA cost-of-living rankings from Missouri Economic Research and Information Center include:

  • Arizona, 36
  • New Hampshire, 40
  • Connecticut, 47

The BLS also reports that the following metropolitan areas have the highest 2009 annual salaries for psychology professionals:

  • Salinas, California: $166,700
  • Miami, Florida: $118,460
  • Phoenix, Arizona: $112,450

Sports psychologist schools education and training

An education from an accredited academic institution can help advance your career and earning potential in sports psychology. To work as a sports psychologist, you must have a large foundation of knowledge both in psychology and exercise science. It may be beneficial for your future career to double major in both fields of study or to major in one field with a minor in the other.

To obtain a higher earning potential, you must have your master's degree or higher. The BLS reports that a master's or doctorate degree is required for most psychologists. Most professional sports psychologists also obtain their license from their local state before beginning their practice in sports psychology.

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