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Sports Psychologist Job Description, Career as a Sports Psychologist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Training/Educational Requirements: Master’s degree

Median Salary: $55,000 per year

Job Prospects: Good

Job Description

Sports psychologists mentally train athletes. They consult with and treat sports professionals for specific conditions, or they may work with them on a regular basis. They work as any other psychologist in that they diagnose and treat psychological issues, but they serve only athletes.

There are a variety of different specialties and capacities that a sports psychologist may work within, so the responsibilities vary accordingly. These mental health professionals see athletes to help them cope with stressful situations, get focused, or understand what they are struggling with in their given sport. These psychologists may also treat patients who are dealing with issues outside of their sport but which is affecting their performance. There are a variety of reasons why a sports psychologist may be sought out, but ultimately they help to treat athletes with a variety of different conditions and treatments.

Usually sports psychologists focus on research, patient consultations, and treatment. They perform research to understand how physical performance may be affected by mental or emotional situations. These medical professionals also may perform research to understand and properly treat specific conditions. Sports psychologists provide a support system to athletes who are dealing with stressful life situations that are affecting their performance.

Sports psychologists may follow certain patients from consultation through treatment. The responsibilities for a sports psychologist may vary based on the specialization or specific role that the individual serves in. If they work within their own practice, these psychologists may also be responsible for all of the functions of running a business as well.

Training/Educational Requirements

Sports psychologists usually have a minimum of a master’s degree, though higher degrees, such as a doctorate, are quite common. Those who serve as psychologists often have a strong educational background within psychology, and they may have focused their coursework in sports. Though many universities don’t offer specific degrees in sports psychology, those people interested in the field can focus much of their elective coursework in this specialty.

It can help to have the appropriate graduate degree, coupled with experience working in the field in some capacity. Sports psychology is a field for which experience is the best training for advanced positions. It also is quite common for sports psychologists to keep up with their training through conducting research or by attending workshops and seminars. Because there are a variety of conditions that they must treat, sports psychologists must keep current in trends and studies.

How to Get Hired

Initially the best way to get hired into a position as a sports psychologist is to have a strong educational background. Having a minimum of a master’s degree is key, and any real-life work or even research work can be an excellent bonus.

As a sports psychologist moves on in her or his career, that person should gain experience in a variety of areas treating different conditions. If this medical professional is working in a research capacity, it’s important that he or she show studies led and completed. If working in a treatment role directly, sports psychologists should demonstrate their abilities in patient care. If striving for a consultative role, these psychologists should be able to show a combination of both. Working in a private practice means that a sports psychologist must have demonstrated experience with a wide array of patients. The more experience that sports psychologists gain, the more potential they have for getting hired as they move on in their career.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

There is good opportunities for those wishing to enter the field as sports psychologists. Because there are a wide array of jobs within the field, as well as many different types of employers, there are usually a good amount of job openings. Being able to demonstrate proven experience in the field will help sports psychologist candidates stand out from the competition.

Working Environment

The typical working environment for sports psychologists may vary based on the employer they work for. They may work for a sports team, in a high school or college, or for a government body or facility directly, or they may work in their own private practice. In whatever place they work, these psychologists have an office where they may conduct research. If they treat patients, they will have exam rooms to handle all consultations and associated procedures. Sports psychologists also may travel to their clients.

Salary and Benefits

Though the salary for a sports psychologist is around $55,000 annually, there can be quite a range. Those starting out in the field can expect to earn around $45,000, but those with experience in psychology can earn upwards of $80,000. Salary depends on the experience that the individual possesses, as well as the geographical location and employer that the medical professional works for. The specific specialty that a sports psychologist works within can also contribute to a larger salary range; some specialties may dictate more experience and therefore pay more per year. Those working as a sports psychologist may expect to receive standard benefits, such as paid vacation and sick days, medical coverage, and a pension plan. For those who have their own practice, they can expect to provide their own benefits.

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