How Much Do Sports Psychologists Make?

Sports psychology is a specialty that uses psychological principles and skills to address the well-being and performance of athletes. This field also involves the social and developmental aspects of participating in sports and systemic problems with sports organizations and settings. (

The American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes sports psychology as a psychological proficiency. Skill in this field is acquired after the student earns a doctoral degree in one of the major areas of psychology. State licensure is also required.

Sports psychologists intervene with athletes in high school, college, and at the professional levels to enhance their performance. They also work with coaches, administrators, and parents to improve sports programs at all levels.

Specialized knowledge you will learn as a sports psychologist includes:

  • The foundations of sports psychology
  • Techniques and issues surrounding sport psychological assessment and mental skills to enhance performance
  • Counseling and clinical problems with high school, collegiate, and professional athletes
  • Social and developmental issues associated with participating in sports

As a sports psychologist, you will use the following skills and procedures:

  • Behavioral and cognitive skills training to enhance athlete performance
  • Clinical and counseling interventions to improve athlete motivation
  • Consultation and training to assist in team building and for teams to more effectively manage families involved in the athletes’ lives

To be a successful sports psychologist, you must complete a doctoral degree in psychology and pursue additional training in sports psychology. This education will take many years. Therefore, it is vital to understand how much you can make as a sports psychologist. Below is more information.

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Sports Psychologist Salary Information

Learning about the salary of sports psychologists is possible by examining official online sources, such as the ones below.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports extensive information about psychologists’ salaries. As of 2018, BLS found the median wage for all types of psychologists was $79,000. The top 10% of psychologists earned $129,000 per year or more. Most professionals at the top of the income ladder have a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree and have worked for many years as a private practice psychologist.

SEE ALSO: Ph.D. vs PsyD

This source also reports the median salary for clinical and counseling psychologists in 2018 was $76,990. These were the top-paying industries for psychologists:

  • Government (all types): $96,500
  • Public and private hospitals: $86,400
  • Ambulatory healthcare services: $79,100
  • Elementary and secondary schools: $75,800

Earning a doctoral degree in sports psychology also could put you in line to work as a coach or scout for a collegiate or professional team. BLS states that coaches and scouts of all kinds earned a median salary of $33,700 in 2018, with the top 10% earning more than $77,800. (

The American Psychological Association states that sports psychologists in university athletic departments earn from $60,000 to $80,000 per year. For the biggest collegiate teams, salaries can exceed $100,000 per year.

In private practice, the salary range can vary tremendously. Sports psychology is a boutique offering that serves clients who pay for the service out of pocket. There is no ceiling or floor on what you can earn as a private practice psychologist. ( reports the average salary for sports psychologists is $75,000 per year. The salary range is between $50,000 and $109,000. The website also says that sports psychologists with one to four years of experience make $70,000. Those with 10 to 19 years of experience earn $96,000. ( reports the average salary for sports psychologists is $72,255, with a range between $20,000 and $157,500. ( The website states that most psychologists in this field earn between $40,000 and $95,000 per year. states the average base pay for sports psychologists is $78,473 per year. (

Job Outlook for Sports Psychologists

BLS reports that job demand for all psychologists will be robust in the next decade, with a 14% increase in job demand. This rate is much faster than other occupations. ( The need for sports psychologists is limited, as there is competition for the available positions.

Some psychologists work for several years in private practice on other types of clients. They may work on a part-time or contractual basis will high school, collegiate, and even professional athletes or teams.

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The salary for all psychologists is substantial at $79,000 according to BLS data. With a Ph.D. in clinical or counseling psychology, you can earn more than $100,000 per year in private practice. After you graduate and have gained experience, you can take more classes in sports psychology and start to focus on this lucrative subspecialty.

Some sports psychologists choose to work for a collegiate athletic department; there are hundreds of collegiate sports teams at different levels across America. Job possibilities in college athletics are far more numerous than at the professional level. But once you gain more experience as a sports psychologist, you may be able to make a high salary offering private services to individual collegiate and professional athletes.