A sports psychologist works with athletes to optimize performance while also addressing developmental and social aspects of participation and issues associated with sports organizations. On average, the sports psychologist salary revolves around $70,000 annually in the US, followed by AU$84,000 ($62,499 USD) in Australia and NZ$81,500 ($57,407 USD) in New Zealand. On the lowest end are South Africa and India at R253,864 ($18,281 USD) and Rs126,000 ($1,839 USD), respectively.
Sports psychologist salaries vary based on work setting, geographic region, and professional experience.
How Much Does a Sports Psychologist Make Per Year?
Sports psychologists work in private practice, schools, hospitals and physical rehabilitation centers. Work setting, experience, and geographic region can impact the salary range as follows:
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Factors That Influence Sports Psychologists’ Salaries
Sports psychologists earn varying incomes based on geographic region, work setting and experience. Because of the educational level required for this career, it does not influence income as greatly as experience or work setting. Details on income, benefits and requirements to practice as a sports psychologist are outlined for each country.
1. Geographic Area
Sports Psychologist Salary in US
The American Psychological Association reports that a career in sports psychology offers growth potential and pays about $60,000 to $80,000 per year, on average, with some earning well over $100,000 annually. Work setting influences overall pay as those employed by large universities with wealthy athletic programs have the potential to earn strong salaries.
Those who build a patient base may choose self-employment through private practice, which provides the greatest income potential; however, because sports psychology is considered a “boutique service” with less demand for services, the salary range may vary widely.
Sports Psychologist Salary in Canada
Information on incomes for specifically sports psychologists is limited; however, psychologists who work with athletes and sports organizations have the same training and requirements as the larger pool of psychologists. Therefore, we’re going to use their wages as guidelines. According to payscale.com, the average annual income of a psychologist in Canada is C$76,667. Those entering their career earn nearly C$49,000, and with experience, earn more than $148,000.
Work setting influences salary with hospitals and agencies paying about half compared to private practice, according to canadianbusiness.com. Additionally, some provinces garner higher hourly rates with the recommended rate in Ontario at $225 per hour compared to $180 per hour in Alberta.
Sports Psychologist Salary in UK
Starting salaries for a sports psychologist in UK is about £20,000 per year. However, with experience, income increases to between £27,000 and £37,000 per year, and those at the senior level earn about £48,000 annually. While there is limited opportunity to work with top professional athletes, those who do secure these positions are often in private practice and may charge £1,000 per day in consulting fees.
Sports Psychologist Salary in Australia
In Australia, psychologists earn about AU$84,000 on average per year, an amount that corresponds with the average salary range of AU$78,000 to AU$90,000 for sports psychologists. Professionals working in New South Wales and Western Australia may earn incomes above the national averages.
Sports Psychologist Salary in New Zealand
While there is limited information on income ranges for sports psychologists, incomes for careers in psychology as a whole can be used as reference because sports psychology is a subset treatment area of psychology. According to careers.govt.nz, psychologists in training who work for district health boards earn salaries ranging from NZ$51,000 to NZ$54,000 per year. Annual salaries for senior psychologists with experience range from NZ$91,000 to NZ$112,000.
Sports Psychologist Salary in India
Sports psychology is a specialty area of the psychology field, and while there is limited information on incomes for sports psychologists, the pay for all psychologists can be used as reference. According to indiaeducation.net, psychologists earn between Rs72,000 and Rs180,000 per year, with Rs126,000 being the average income. Sports psychologists working in India are often employed by schools and sports teams.
Sports Psychologist Salary in South Africa
With limited information on salary ranges for sports psychologists in South Africa, incomes for all psychologists can serve as a guideline for expected salaries. According to Payscale, entry level psychologists earn about R89,000 per year, with the median annual salary at R253,864. Professionals with the most experience have the potential to earn R737,631 per year, plus an additional R193,916 in bonus pay and R7,500 in profit sharing. Income peaks during late-career with 20 years’ or more experience.
Salary ranges are heavily influenced by experience worldwide. At 729%, South Africa has the widest gap in salary range between entry level employees and those with the most experience, possibly because of the sharp increase in income for those with 20 years’ or more experience. New Zealand, UK and India have similar pay differences between entry level psychologists and senior level psychologists at 120%, 140% and 150%, respectively. In the US where salaries are highest for sports psychologists, senior level professionals earn about 67% more than those beginning their careers.
To practice as a sports psychologist, a bachelor’s degree followed by graduate level work and practicum are required. Those working in senior level positions that pay the highest salaries often need a PhD, while most countries require licensure or registry with a governing body. With the variances in requirements, it is the individual’s responsibility to understand the regulations for the country in which he or she wishes to practice.
Sports psychologists often work in schools, sports clubs, professional sports organizations, hospitals and physical rehabilitation centers. Some may choose to build a client base and then transition to self-employment through private practice. Professionals working in private practice enjoy the greatest earning potential and flexibility; however, it may take many years of professional experience to build a patient base to afford this transition.
Job flexibility, work-life balance and the opportunity to help others overcome anxiety, injury and issues with sports performance are aspects that provide high job satisfaction.
Sports psychologists usually work Monday through Friday during typical work hours; however, evening, weekend and on-call hours may be necessary. While most sports psychologists work full-time, some may have part-time schedules or flexible work hours.
Bonuses and Benefit Packages
Healthcare benefits, including medical, vision and dental insurance, are often provided; however, those working in private practice may be responsible for covering their own health benefits packages. Bonuses and profit sharing may also be offered.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a 20% increase in U.S. job growth in in the field of psychology from 2014 through 2024. Moreover, Employment and Social Development Canada anticipates the need for psychologists to exceed the number of professionals between now and 2020. Meanwhile, job growth for psychologists in Australia is expected to see only moderate growth. While careers in psychology overall are expected to increase, the more limited field of sports psychology may have less demand.
Those who work in sports psychology indicate high job satisfaction and a positive work-life balance. Future growth in the field of psychology will probably remain steady to fast worldwide with good earning potential; however, the more focused area of sports psychology may offer fewer opportunities as this field focuses on a niche audience.