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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
Physician Opportunity in Westminster, CO Rocky Mountain Primary Care Westminster, Colorado US 05/12/2022
THE OPPORTUNITY Full-time with a partnership track available Take over an established practice from a retiring physician 1:5 call by phone, light 32 scheduled patient care hours per week 1 or 2 dedicated medical assistants, with potential for a scribe 25 - 30 new patients / month, 18 - 22 patients / day Two-year maximum income guarantee wRVU based compensation after income guarantee ... More
Director of Student Athlete Wellness Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan US 05/09/2022
Provide Mental Performance Consultation to athletes Implement intake and/or screening procedures Provide group mental skills instruction to optimize a teams performance Promote health, wellness and safety for athletes Perform characteristic duties of a counselor, social worker or psychologist Refer, consult and collaborate with athletic trainers, team physicians and psychiatrists Develop mental health programs and services that ... More
Program Director and Assistant/Associate Professor of Orthotics and Prosthetics East Tennessee State University Johnson City, Tennessee US 05/08/2022
The Department of Rehabilitative Sciences seeks an experienced faculty member to serve as the Program Director to develop and launch a Master of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics in May 2023. The position is a 12-month clinical or tenure-track appointment, and is available to start as soon as the search process has ended. The Program Director reports to the Chair for the Department of Rehabilitative Sciences. The Department of Rehabilitative Sciences is a fast-growing, multidisciplinary ... More
Assistant AD/Counseling and Sport Psychology Mississippi State University Starkville, Mississippi US 05/06/2022
Manage day-to-day operations that support strategic planning and departmental engagement efforts. Oversees counseling and sport psychology staff service provision and professional development. Oversees training and mentorship programs with the assistance of counseling and sport psychology staff as part of the dotted line relationship with campus partner Student Counseling Services. Provision of general mental health and performance enhancement, mental skills services (evaluation, treatment, ... More
Post-Doctoral Fellow The University of Tulsa Tulsa, Oklahoma US 05/06/2022
The University of Tulsa Counseling and Psychological Services Center is recruiting for a full-time, 12-month sports psychology postdoctoral fellowship, both formal and informal tracks of experience in sport psychology will be considered. Other areas of focus may be available which include multicultural, assessment, groups, trauma, eating disorders, substance use disorders, or outreach. Under the supervision of the Director of Counseling Services, the postdoctoral fellow will provide a full ... More
Mental Performance Consultant The Performance Pursuit Remote US 05/02/2022
WHO ARE THE PERFORMANCE PURSUIT The Performance Pursuit is a unique performance consulting organization that caters to not only athletes, coaches, exercisers, but professionals of all occupations focused on satisfying our client's need to thrive and compete in various arenas. Our consultation is deeper than making you a successful athlete or coach, we believe that our work provides you with the skills and insight to be successful in life. HOW OUR TEAM ... More
Chair of the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Management Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, Georgia US 05/02/2022
Chair of the Department of Exercise Science and Sport ManagementJob ID: 239866Location: Kennesaw, GeorgiaFull/Part Time: Full TimeRegular/Temporary: RegularAbout Us For more than 50 years, Kennesaw State University has been known for its entrepreneurial spirit and sense of community. A leader in innovative ... More
Psychologist Psychologist New Orleans, Louisiana US 05/02/2022
Position Summary: The Psychologist position will work within a multidisciplinary team to assess patient needs for all Center for Sport clinical programs. The primary responsibilities are divided between the interrelated functions of clinical management and some research practice. Duties include: patient assessment, treatment planning and coordination, counseling, multidisciplinary staffing, research, and ongoing program monitoring and development. Follow-up with appropriate ... More
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