7 sports psychology careers (with salaries and duties)
Updated 21 February 2023
A sports psychology degree is a formal credential that teaches you about the way in which athletics and mental processing connect. This degree may be useful for you if you aspire to work with athletes or become a coach. Learning about potential career paths that you might pursue with this degree is helpful for developing a realistic career plan. In this article, we list various sports psychology careers, explore their day-to-day duties and show you how much you might earn in these roles.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
What are sports psychology careers?
Sports psychology careers are jobs you may pursue after completing a course in sports psychology or a related degree, like sports management. They're also suitable for psychology graduates who are passionate about sports. By pursuing a sports psychology job, you get a chance to use your knowledge of human psychology to optimise the performance of professional athletes by helping them develop effective strategies for handling strong competition or enduring demanding training sessions. It's also possible for sports psychologists to help amateur sports enthusiasts reach their fitness goals.
Key skills for a career in sports psychology
As an aspiring sports psychologist, developing strong counselling or communication abilities can help build trust and encourage your clients to open up in less time. Here are some competencies on which you may focus for a successful career in sports and psychology:
Counselling is the ability to question someone's situation in a way that helps them understand their thoughts, actions, emotions and behaviour. Sports psychologists who are effective counsellors actively listen to and observe their clients. They use the information they receive to interpret people's limitations. Depending on the situation, counselling skills help psychologists both during one-time sessions and long-term projects.
Related: 10 essential counsellor skills
Regardless of your chosen career, as a sports psychology graduate, you're likely to work in a customer-facing role. Succeeding in a role in which you interact with people daily requires strong customer service skills. To build them, you may focus on improving your self-control, learning to use positive language and implementing strategies for taking responsibility for your actions, both successes and failures.
Sensitivity and understanding
Sports psychologists use their sensitivity to build trust and help clients or patients open up during sessions and consultations. For example, they may use this quality to help a young athlete notice their true potential and build strength to start overcoming fear or other weaknesses they have. Sensitivity and understanding also help when a psychologist decides to conduct an intervention, for example, to provide their patient with immediate psychological help.
Effective sports psychologists have the ability to adjust their language to match other people's communication styles. They may work with athletes, coaches, physiotherapists and even sports managers. Developing strong communication not only makes the work of a sports psychologist more efficient but also helps them make sure others clearly understand their advice, interpretation and counselling plans.
7 careers for people with a degree in sports psychology
After graduating with a degree in sports psychology, it's useful to assess your potential by comparing your existing skills with what the sports industry requires from candidates for different roles. Reviewing these careers may help you decide which path you want to pursue as a sports psychologist:
1. Sports centre manager
National average salary: £23,767 per year
Primary duties: A sports centre manager is a strategic and operational specialist who oversees the day-to-day operations of a sports facility. To perform their duties, they utilise their leadership and organisational skills. A key element of their work is creating budgets and allocating them to different departments. It's also a manager's responsibility to periodically assess their subordinates' work using performance reviews, one-on-one consultations and team meetings. Occasionally, they may liaise between the sports facility and different sports teams, athletes and sports brands.
2. Sports coach
National average salary: £26,328 per year
Primary duties: A sports coach works with athletes and sports teams, offering them advice and analysing their individual potential. A coach with a background in sports psychology may help athletes identify their mental weaknesses and develop improvement plans to make them more competitive in their discipline. Some other responsibilities of sports coaches include advising athletes on their training programmes, lifestyle choices and diet. Typically, coaches work alongside other sports specialists, like physiotherapists or scouts.
3. Healthcare adviser
National average salary: £27,318 per year
Primary duties: A healthcare adviser works with people who require support and guidance regarding their medical care. They may help people identify their health-related struggles and instruct them where to find help. Some healthcare advisers work for medical facilities like hospitals or clinics, where they have immediate access to physicians and other medical specialists. It's also possible for these advisers to find employment at private and public organisations, where they assess day-to-day health risks for employees and help implement solutions to prevent them.
4. Fitness consultant
National average salary: £27,658 per year
Primary duties: A fitness consultant provides expert advice to sports and fitness enthusiasts. They may find employment at sports centres and gyms, where they may offer one-on-one sessions for amateurs who want to improve their fitness level. It's also possible for fitness consultants to organise and run fitness classes in which they incorporate exercises of different levels, including low, moderate and high-intensity training. A key element of this role is having strong customer service skills, which consultants use to promote their services and maintain the reputation of the facility where they work.
5. Athletic talent scout
National average salary: £28,103 per year
Primary duties: A talent scout may work for a sports team or coach. They look for aspiring athletes or people with the potential to become professional athletes in the future. As a part of their job, they may meet with young people and their families, identify the person's athletic strengths and weaknesses, run tests and help them discover their true potential for a career in sports. Scouts with a background in sports psychology may be primarily responsible for assessing an athlete's mental state and preparation.
6. Personal trainer
National average salary: £28,493 per year
Primary duties: A personal trainer works with clients and educates them on the policies and standards regarding the proper use of gym equipment. They may develop training plans and advise people on making their lifestyle healthier. Personal trainers rarely develop diet plans for clients, but those with a degree in sports psychology may offer consultations to discuss clients' dietary habits. It's also possible that they explain to clients how to improve their relationship with food and exercise. When they're not working with clients, they may work as regular members of the gym staff, preparing reports and helping customers.
7. School psychologist
National average salary: £43,544 per year
Primary duties: A school psychologist works with children and youth, helping them improve their communication and social skills. They may also use intervention skills to solve emergencies and urgent situations in a student's life. School psychologists promote the importance of problem-solving and encourage students to be more empathetic and invest in their mental, physical and emotional growth. For example, psychologists may do this by helping teachers organise sports events that develop students' teamwork and social resilience.
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