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 helping to improve upon 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 a 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.

Whether you’re interested in healthcare or human performance, there’s a career for you out there which will suit your interests and professional needs. Learn more about the difference between Exercise Science and Sports Medicine from an occupational standpoint.

For many, salary 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.


We’ve compiled a list of the 18 highest paid jobs in sports medicine and exercise science as of 2015 ranked in order of average salary:

OccupationAvg. Salary
1. Orthopedic Surgeon (Sports Medicine) *$760,000
2. Physiatrist *$321,000
3. Orthopedic Physician (Non-Surgical) *$271,000
4. Podiatrist$137,480
5. Physical Therapist$83,940
6. Chiropractor$79,760
7. Occupational Therapist$80,000
8. Sports Psychologist **$67,000
9. Dietitian/Nutritionist$57,440
10. Occupational Therapy Assistant$57,260
11. Physical Therapy Assistant$54,330
12. Exercise Physiologist$49,040
13. Athletic Trainer$44,720
14. Massage Therapist$41,790
15. Strength Coach **$40,000
16. Personal Trainer/Fitness Instructor$39,410
17. Occupational Therapy Aide$29,040
18. Physical Therapy Aide$26,660

* Physician salary data taken from the 2012 MGMA Physician Compensation Survey.
** Salary data for these occupations taken from 2014 Salary.com data.

All other salary data compiled from BLS.gov May 2014 occupational wage estimates.


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