One of the best things in life is a career that you love. If you are interested in psychology, love sports and you want to help others, pursuing a career in sports psychology may be the ideal choice for your career path.
While becoming a sports psychologist takes several years of advanced education, if it is something you are passionate about, the work will be more than worth the effort required to reach your goal.
Learn more about the field of sports psychology, how to become a sports psychologist, average salaries in the field, job outlook, work environments for sports psychology professionals and the types of careers that are available.
What is Sports Psychology?
Sports psychology is a scientific field in which principles of psychology, or the study of the human mind, are applied to athletes. How a person thinks, as well as what they think, can have a dramatic impact on physical and competitive performance.
Sports psychology is more than just an area of research; it has many practical applications in the world of sports. College athletes sometimes meet with a sports psychologist to determine whether athletic demands are causing behavioral issues or self-esteem problems.
Among elite athletes, meeting with a sports psychologist is common as a way to envision success or deal with the complications of losing a major event on a global scale. Sports psychology helps prepare athletes to perform at their best and deal with the impact of winning and losing.
Becoming a Sports Psychologist
If you have the ultimate goal of becoming a sports psychologist, you should be prepared for several years of study and hard work. All licensed sports psychologists in the United States need to have a doctoral degree, which comes after a four-year bachelor’s program in a related field.
In some cases, it may be possible to work as a sports psychologist at the high school or college level with just a master’s in exercise or sports psychology.
Successful sports psychologists need to be great listeners and communicators. Aspiring sports psychologists should be patient, have great observational skills and be able to think critically to solve problems.
Alternative Careers in Sports Psychology
The majority of professionals working in the field of sports psychology are licensed sports psychologists. However, there are other roles to consider if you’d like be active in the world of sports and psychology but you don’t want to earn a full doctoral degree.
With a bachelor’s degree, for instance, you might work as a physical education teacher or a high school sports coach, or you could find employment as a physical educator for a nonprofit in your local community.
With a master’s degree, you could pursue roles such as academic athletic adviser at a major university or life coach for professional and aspiring athletes.
Salaries for Sports Psychologists
Salary for a licensed sports psychologist varies according to employers. Those who work at colleges, for instance, tend to make less than those who work for major sports teams in the NBA or the NFL.
A sports psychologist in the United States with a doctoral degree can expect to earn an average salary of $69,000.
Job Outlook for Sports Psychology
The outlook for psychologists as a whole is very promising in the United States. From now until 2024, there is forecast to be an increase of 19 percent in the demand for licensed psychologists, which includes sports psychologists.
For those in the field of sports psychology in particular, the news is even better with a predicted employee demand increase of 22 percent.
Typical Work Environments for Sports Psychologists
Sports psychologists, like all psychologists, may spend a large portion of their workday in an office setting, meeting one-on-one with their patients. However, sports psychologists may also be needed on the sidelines of major sporting events or on college campuses, in fitness facilities and anywhere else that amateur and professional athletes perform.
If you’re interested in the study of psychology, and you also have a deep passion for sports, you can combine the two and become sports psychologist.