Education and Training Required to Become a Successful Sports Medicine Career
Because sports medicine specialists work in a medical context under the supervision of trained physicians, they are considered medical professionals. Even though they do not require a medical degree, they still must complete a thorough education in anatomy, injury care, first aid, and more. They must also seek out additional education and certifications throughout their career.
Most sports medicine specialists possess at least a Bachelorís of Science in sports medicine or a related field. Even if a school does not offer a specific athletic training or sports medicine degree, they will offer foundational courses in related subjects like kinesiology, physiology, anatomy, or exercise science. A degree in any of these fields will establish a solid basis from which individuals may build a sports medicine career. Students should consult with their advisor to construct the best possible course of study. A Bachelorís of Science will cost between $4,500 and $25,000, though there are some scholarships to help aspiring sports medicine specialists allay some of those costs.
Those wanting to develop their own practice or operate without the required supervision of a medical doctor will themselves need to obtain a medical degree. Students will be admitted into the medical school of their choosing and will complete the first two years as any other medical student. Only in the last few years of their study will they be able to explore sports medicine fellowships and apprenticeships to gain the hands-on experiences they need. Most students graduate from medical school with debts in excess of $110,000. However if they go into practice immediately afterward, those debts can be paid down in half the time of the average studentís loan debts.
Graduate Level Education
Students who want a more specialized education in sports medicine but for whom medical school is not an option, a graduate level degree can open multiple doors in research and practice. An advanced degree in epidemiology, laboratory sciences, biostatistics, or athletic training can grant individuals a much more developed insight into sports medicine, allowing them a more specialized practice or giving them a successful career with a university athletics program. A Masterís Degree will likely run students upwards of $25,000 a year, while a doctorate can exceed $40,000 a year. Few scholarships are available at this level of education, but they do exist for those who most need the help.
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Even after graduation, sports medicine practitioners are required to seek certification with the National Athletic Trainersí Association if they wish to work as an athletic trainer. Dues are between $34 and $50 a year and the individual must demonstrate proficiency in a number of different practices. Continuing education in first aid, emergency care, and more are also required for sustained certification. Those who do not apply for certification with NATA are encouraged to at least join the American College of Sports Medicine. Applications are about $100 with membership dues that fluctuate from year to year.
With a solid foundation of education practicing sports medicine specialists can find work in many different environments. Sports medicine graduates work in hospitals, private clinics, secondary schools and colleges, and with all of the leading athletic teams.