Highest Paying Exercise Science & Sports Medicine Jobs

Physiatrist holding her cute little piggy bank.

Under the umbrella of movement science and physical medicine are many occupational pathways one can pursue. However, all have in common improving the body’s functional capacity or composition.

Careers in sports medicine are considered clinical, meaning those working in this field are actual healthcare providers. For example, athletic training is officially recognized as an allied healthcare profession.

With exercise science, careers tend to be either in fitness, human performance, research, teaching, administrative or business roles. An example of this would be a strength and conditioning specialist who works with athletes to optimize physical capacity in sports. Whether you’re interested in healthcare or human performance, there’s a career out there to suit your interests and professional needs. Learn more about the difference between Exercise Science and Sports Medicine from an occupational standpoint.

For many, salary is one of the major determining factors in choosing a career. However, higher paying careers come at the cost of more education (read: time and money) – although the long-term job outlook and financial security typically offered by these professions can make them a worthwhile investment.




Here’s a list of the 21 highest paid jobs related to sports medicine and exercise science as of 2017 ranked in order of average salary:

OccupationAvg. Salary
1. Orthopedic Surgeon (Sports Medicine) *$679,750
2. Orthopedic Physician (Non-surgical) *$375,560
3. Family Medicine (Sports Medicine) *$297,517
4. Physiatrist *$296,866
5. Podiatrist$136,180
6. Physician Assistant (Orthopedic - Non-surgical) *$122,684
7. Physician Assistant (Orthopedic - Surgical) *$112,436
8. Physical Therapist$85,790
9. Occupational Therapist$81,690
10. Chiropractor$78,370
11. Sports Psychologist **$71,803
12. Dietitian/Nutritionist$59,300
13. Occupational Therapy Assistant$58,340
14. Physical Therapy Assistant$55,250
15. Exercise Physiologist$49,740
16. Athletic Trainer$46,940
17. Massage Therapist$43,170
18. Strength Coach ***$42,123
19. Personal Trainer/Fitness Instructor$40,970
20. Occupational Therapy Aide$31,090
21. Physical Therapy Aide$27,440

* Salary data taken from the 2015 MGMA Provider Compensation report.
** Salary data for these occupations taken from 2017 indeed.com data.
*** Salary data for these occupations taken from 2017 glassdoor.com data.

All other salary data compiled from BLS.gov May 2015 occupational wage estimates.


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