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What is a sports psychologist?

A sports psychologist works to help support and develop the psychology of high-level competitive athletes and sportspeople.

Many people may find this surprising. After all, often athletes are very well paid, very well motivated, and incredibly successful! Why would someone living this sort of lifestyle need a psychologist?

The truth is that mental health issues can affect ANYONE, regardless of age, wealth, or any other external or internal factor.

High-level sport is incredibly unforgiving, particularly in a world where criticism and scrutiny are often public and very loud, in online spaces and elsewhere.

Sports psychologists help athletes deal with the stress and mental rigors that high-level sport puts on the psyche.

Career Outlook/Demand

The career outlook for sports psychologists is an interesting one, with a lot of room to specialize, learn and grow, developing as a clinician while also developing contacts and the business side of the profession.

It’s also quite varied, as you can work with athletes in various different sports, at varying levels, assisting with everything from depression, trauma, stress, or PTSD to assisting in building confidence and improving on-field performance.

It’s important to note that while there are similarities, sports psychologist sessions won’t look much like a clinical psychology session, as you will be working with coaches and athletes to deal primarily with stressors and difficulties as they relate to performance, which is an interesting and very specific focus, setting this profession apart from the other niches of psychology.

In terms of supply and demand, it’s important to understand this, as picking a career is really important and needs to be considered and a well-researched decision.

A low supply and high demand is the best for job seekers, and will often mean it’s easier to find work and get paid well for your efforts.

Jump to Sports Psychologist Job Listing

In terms of sports psychology, it’s actually a relatively good market for job seekers, as more sports take mental health seriously, and many athletes seek to improve and learn more about the importance of the mental side of the game.

Sport is essential, and the amount of money being made in professional sport is very high, and there are also a lot of different sports and leagues to choose from, meaning you will have a lot of opportunities to work and the ability to work in various areas of the country or world, with opportunities for travel too.

Sport is also continuing to grow, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs in psychology, including sports psychology, will grow 14% from 2018 to 2028 so there are definitely opportunities available!

What qualifications do you need to be a sports psychologist?

A psychology degree is just the first step in this process, and while it is a big part of it, there are other important qualifications you need to become a licensed sports psychologist in most states. While the rules in each state naturally vary somewhat it’s typical for candidates desiring to become licensed to have a doctoral degree and to have passed the Examination of Professional Practice in Psychology exam which is run by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. Candidates must have also logged some 1500 to 6000 clinical hours.

If you’re confused or have more specific questions about becoming a sports psychologist it’s best to contact your state board for guidance and assistance on what you need to do and other important information about qualification and licensing.

How much Do sports psychologists make?

One of the most important aspects of any career is remuneration, and it’s a big motivator for people even if you’re passionate about the particular subject matter.

There are a lot of variables as with any pay scale and can be affected by the experience, location, and the level at which you are practicing.

However for sports psychologists in a university athletics department can expect to earn around $60,000 to $80,000, with some even surpassing $100,000. In private practice, it’s much harder to give precise salary figures but it can be incredibly lucrative, as can consulting and freelance work.

How much do NFL sports psychologists make?

It’s difficult to give precise figures, as naturally, salaries are personal information which isn’t often shared very freely.

Generally, at the highest level, sports psychologists can expect to make over $100,000 a year when dealing with NFL franchises that have a large roster of athletes, state-of-the-art facilities, and incredibly lucrative and high stakes competition.

How much do NBA sports psychologists make?

The same can be said for NBA psychologists, who will likely often make in the vicinity of $100,000 a year or more when dealing with the highest level of athletes. It’s possible the amount may be less for someone less experienced, but these roles are some of the biggest and most rewarding for sports psychologists so they are competitive, highly sought after, and well paid too.

A day in the life of a sports psychologist/what do they do for athletes?

Sports psychologists can work for athletes, coaches, and referees, from the amateur level all the way up to the professional level. Their work is focused on supporting these athletes and sportspeople in their roles and dealing with the psychological stresses of the profession, as well as researching how sport affects psychology, and how psychology influences sports performance.

They attempt to prepare athletes as well as possible using all these factors and may use aspects of medicine and psychology in the performance of their duties.

Latest Sports Psychologist Jobs Listings

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Position Company Location Posted
Mental Health & Mental Performance Provider Cleveland Guardians Goodyear, Arizona US 08/08/2022
Primary PurposeThe Guardians believe that by investing in the well-being and positive mental health of their players, coaches and staff long term, optimal performance will be supported. The Mental Health and Mental Performance Provider will be based in Goodyear, Arizona throughout the year--- spring training, season, fall development, and winter development. They will be tasked with fostering the overall well-being of the Cleveland Guardians players and staff in that ... More
Assistant Coach Women's Golf University of North Texas Denton, Texas US 08/07/2022
Position DetailsPosition InformationUNT System Overview Welcome to the University of North Texas System . UNT System includes the University of North Texas in Denton , the University of North Texas at Dallas and the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth. We are the only university system based exclusively in the robust Dallas-Fort Worth region and we are committed to transforming lives and creating economic opportunity through education. ... More
PREPARING FUTURE FACULTY - FACULTY DIVERSITY POSTDOCTORAL PROGRAM University of Missouri Graduate School Columbia, Missouri US 08/05/2022
Preparing Future Faculty - Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Program Overview of Program The University of Missouris Preparing Future Faculty Faculty Diversity (PFFFD) Postdoctoral Program is designed to develop scholars for tenure-track faculty positions at the University of Missouri and elsewhere. Applicants should demonstrate how they can contribute to faculty diversity, such as through membership in a group ... More
Associate Clinician - Mental Health Counselor - Athletics UMass Amherst Amherst, Massachusetts US 08/02/2022
Job no: 515263Work type: Staff Full TimeLocation: UMass AmherstDepartment: AthleticsUnion: PSUCategories: Athletics, Counseling/Health/WellnessAbout UMass AmherstUMass Amherst, the Commonwealth's flagship campus, is a nationally ranked public research university offering ... More
Psychologist - School - (PSY - School) AMN Healthcare Casa Grande, Arizona US 08/02/2022
Job Description & RequirementsPsychologist - School - (PSY - School)StartDate: 07/07/2022Available Shifts: 8 D Pay Rate: $1650.00 - 2000.00We are partnering with a well-respected School District system in various locations throughout Arizona that include Deer Valley, East Mesa, Glendale, Laveen, Maricopa, N. Chandler, Queen Creek and Surprise, that is looking for a highly-motivated and passionate School Psychologists (SP) for a contract position. Candidates must be willing ... More
Sports Psychologist Clemson University Clemson, South Carolina US 07/21/2022
Clemson UniversityJob ID:106711Location:Clemson UniversityFull/Part Time:Full-TimeRegular/Temporary:RegularJOB SUMMARY: Sport Psychologist will lead implementation of mental health services and programming for Clemson Division I Student-Athletes. The Provider will assist in implementing the clinical pathways for mental health assessment, referrals, treatments/interventions, ... More
Therapist and Clinical Consultant- Sports Performance Simply Bee Counseling Vernon Hills, Illinois US 07/20/2022
Purpose: The Therapist and Clinical Consultant- Sport Performance is a subject matter expert in sports psychology and mental performance. They are responsible for preparing and developing content within sports performance coaching and applying it to the services or products provided through Simply Bees Consultation, Community and Product Departments. Tasks ... More
Coordinator, Mental Health & Wellness/Mental Health Care Provider Women's Tennis Association Remote Position Open to US or UK Residents US 07/19/2022
The Coordinator of Mental Health & Wellness will contribute to the design, development, and implementation of Sport Sciences & Medicine (SS&M) services/athlete care, and Performance Health administration, education, and WTA Labs as assigned. As a WTA Mental Health Care Provider, the clinician collaborates with Performance Health team members to ensure completeintegration of care. This comprehensive treatment approach within PerformanceHealthis designed to facilitate WTA athletes ... More
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