Helping people recover from and prevent sports-related injuries is one of the main responsibilities of sports doctors. But don’t let the name fool you; physicians who specialize in sports medicine treat more than athletes. They usually call the general public their patients, as sports doctors work with anyone involved with exercise in its many forms. Salaries vary by experience and subspecialty.
As of 2012, physicians and surgeons reportedly earned $184,820 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But this figure accounts for all doctors, regardless of specialty. A survey by the American Medical Group Association found physicians specializing in sports medicine brought home closer to $536,823 a year in 2013.
As expected, physicians just coming out of their residencies won’t command nearly as high a paycheck. According to a 2013 survey by MedSource Consultants, another national recruiting firm, sports doctors start out at $214,249 a year. But earnings can be broken down even further, as different specialties can take on subspecialties. For example, family practitioners with sports medicine started out at $152,000, while orthopedic surgeons in sports medicine started out at $266,000, reports Allied Physicians.
With three or more years of experience, family practitioners with sports medicine get a bump in pay, averaging $208,000 annually. The highest reported salary for this subspecialty was $363,000 a year. At three or more years of experience, orthopedic surgeons in sports medicine averaged $479,000, with the highest reported salary of $762,000 a year. In fact, Becker’s Hospital Review lists orthopedic surgeons in sports medicine as one of the 25 highest-paid specialties, at an average of $550,000 a year.
The BLS expects job opportunities for physicians to be good, with an average growth rate of 24 percent through 2020. By comparison, this is much better than the growth rate of 14 percent for all U.S. occupations. Expect the greatest prospects for doctors specializing in health issues affecting the baby boomer population, which could include sports medicine, as this branch of health care deals with prevention of injuries related to exercise.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Physicians and Surgeons
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physicians and Surgeons, All Other
- Cejka Search: Physician Compensation Report
- MedSource Consultants: Physician Compensation
- Becker’s Hospital Review: 25 Highest-Paid Specialties
- ValueMD: Physician Salaries (First Year)
- ValueMD: Physician Salaries (In Practice)
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images