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 2020 ranked in order of average salary:

OccupationAvg. Salary
1. Orthopedic Surgeon (Sports Medicine) *$679,750
2. Orthopedic Physician (Non-surgical) *$375,560
4. Physiatrist **$315,000
3. Family Medicine (Sports Medicine) *$297,517
5. Podiatrist$148,220
6. Physician Assistant (Orthopedic - Non-surgical) *$122,684
7. Physician Assistant (Orthopedic - Surgical) *$112,436
8. Physical Therapist$88,880
10. Chiropractor$85,870
9. Occupational Therapist$85,350
11. Sports Psychologist ***$73,019
12. Dietitian/Nutritionist$61,210
13. Occupational Therapy Assistant$60,410
14. Physical Therapy Assistant$57,750
15. Exercise Physiologist$54,760
16. Athletic Trainer$49,280
18. Strength Coach ****$46,764
17. Massage Therapist$45,880
19. Personal Trainer/Fitness Instructor$44,580
20. Occupational Therapy Aide$32,580
21. Physical Therapy Aide$28,500

* From the 2015 MGMA Provider Compensation report.
** From Doximity 2019 Physician Compensation Report.
*** From 2020 ZipRecruiter.com data.
*** Salary data for these occupations taken from 2020 glassdoor.com data.

All other salary data compiled from BLS.gov May 2018 occupational wage estimates.


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