Sports Medicine Specialist Career Facts

Sports medicine specialists are doctors that specialize in injuries related to sports and exercise. They are trained doctors and can specialize in either Doctors of Osteopathy or Doctors of Medicine. The demand for this type of medical specialization is high in professional sports and sports clinics to deal with a range of characteristic health issues and risks. There are several basic functions in sports medicine:

  • Prevention
  • Evaluation
  • Treatment

The Work Environment

The typical workplace for a sports medicine specialist is a clinic, college, outpatient center, government agency, sports facility or a private practice. The work involves a wide variety of injuries and diagnostic issues. Sports injuries can involve complex treatment problems, and sometimes difficult recovery programs can last for many years. The work includes:

  • Examinations
  • Medical history checks
  • Tests
  • Fitness tests
  • Counseling
  • Preparation of health care programs
  • Nutrition
  • Surgery (Not all sports medicine doctors are surgeons. This is an additional class of medical qualification.)
  • Rehabilitation


Sports medicine specialists often specialize in many different types of fields. There s a high demand in the market. The demand comes from both a public demand and professional sports. In pro sports, the sports medicine specialist is working with a particularly demanding clientele. This specialization is also a high risk, high expense area for athletes and career threatening injuries. The sports medicine specialist may be responsible for the career prospects of a star athlete from injury stage to recovery. It's a true high pressure job, with very high demands placed on the sports medicine specialist.

Salary and Hours

The salary is highly variable, depending on type of employment, contract, or practice, experience, specialization, location and facilities. The median salary is $235,000. However, doctors that work within the lower ends of the market can earn considerably less. The hours are variable in this profession, due to patient needs, although clinical practice hours are the norm. 

The Career Environment

Although the work environment can be very demanding, the career track for sports medicine specialists can also be excellent. The market demand is extremely high, particularly in the US, where over 600,000 people are employed in this field. The expected growth in the profession is 14% in the coming decade. 

Career progression in this area is very like the career track for other medical specialists. Unlike other forms of medical practice, the strong commercial element in the market creates a range of possibilities in development of business interests as well. Sports medicine practices can provide a good range of local services, and sports clinic franchises may also create career opportunities. Career advancement also includes a range of other possibilities: 

  • Products and other commercial options
  • Training others in sports medicine
  • Advisory and consultancy roles 

The many career choices in sports medicine are open ended. They can be developed in various forms and specializations. Career moves tend to be on the basis of preference, and the market supports a lot of job mobility, which may translate into rapid career development.