Sports Science Majors: Salary and Career Facts

A sports medicine major can train you to coach athletes, teach physical education or help people avoid or recover from injury. Learn about degree and course options, potential careers, job requirements and salaries. Schools offering Fitness & Nutrition degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is the Sports Science Major?

Bachelor's degree students interested in sports science can often major in the subject through a university's exercise and sports science, physical education or health and recreation department. A bachelor's degree in sports science usually requires completion of 126-147 credit hours and may be completed in 4-5 years.

Some schools allow you to choose between a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Art designation as you complete your sports science degree. If you like physics, chemistry and biology, a Bachelor of Science may be what you want. The designation may be awarded after completion of a specific number of science-related courses, in addition to the main degree requirements. Bachelor of Arts degrees in the field are generally more focused on the social science aspects of the discipline, like exercise psychology and how sport relates to culture.

What Careers Can I Have?

Graduates of sports science programs may find work as physical education teachers, sports coaches and athletic trainers. Though each of these careers requires a specific skill set and educational emphasis, they all involve work with other people. Majoring in sports science is a good choice if you want to spend your workday interacting with others.

Physical education teachers work with students in K-12 settings to teach classes that keep kids active. Some physical education teachers incorporate education in habits that could help students stay healthy throughout their lives. A physical education teacher typically plans activities for classes, oversees student activity to ensure safety and evaluates students based on their participation and skill level. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), coaches for elementary and high school sports are often teachers who have been hired to take on the coaching role, in addition to their regular duties (www.bls.gov).

Athletic trainers help athletes and other individuals avoid injury or recover following an injury. These individuals evaluate injuries, assist in physical therapy activities and provide instruction on proper technique for physical therapy equipment. A trainer may travel with a sports team, according to O*Net Online (www.online.onetcenter.org).

How Much Can I Earn?

In 2009, O*Net reported that athletic trainers were paid $41,340 per year, and the top-paying industry was educational services, followed by personal services. The same report indicates that approximately 16,000 athletic trainers were employed in that same year. The field is expected to grow by 11,500 employees through 2019, according to O*Net.

According to a survey by online salary database Payscale.com, in July 2010 physical education teachers' earnings ranged from $33,027-$51,357, annually. This includes commissions, bonuses and profit sharing potentials. Payscale.com also reported that sports coaches earned an average of $28,380 in 2009.

What Do I Need Besides My Degree?

Depending on the concentration you choose, preparation for a sports science career may not stop with your degree. You may have to gain additional credentials for your intended job as a teacher or a personal or athletic trainer. Each field has separate licensing and certification requirements, and job resource databases like the BLS indicate that these requirements may also vary by state.

Professional organizations for athletic trainers, like the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) may offer certification programs that require completion of classes offered through the organization itself or through completion of examinations. For positions in physical education or coaching, you will probably need to complete licensure programs outlined by the state where you wish to teach or coach.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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