Sports Medicine Salary Range and the Factors that Impact it

The sports medicine branch of the medical field has many career options, with a sports medicine physician being one of the top options. This physician specialty falls under family practice physicians, and within this role, you help people be in top form for athletic pursuits.

Your role includes diagnosing athletic injuries and conditions, and then treating those problems to get people back in the game. For example, you might help someone with tennis elbow or with hip pain that’s interfering with their ability to jog or play golf. A sports medicine salary compensates you for the education and work involved in this specialized role.

In this article, we show you average salaries for this type of physician across numerous sources. We also help you see how a variety of factors influence your yearly salary. Finally, we break down a number of ways to make as much money as you can in this role and to use your salary wisely.

Average Sports Medicine Salary

Nationwide, the median salary for sports medicine is $300,125 per year, according to a 2021 report by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). Median refers to the middle number when 50 percent are below and 50 percent are above that number. The salary from this source ranged from $203,111 at the lowest tier to $429,598 at the highest tier. found the median sports medicine salary to be $245,736, while ZipRecruiter gave $183,344 as the annual salary for a sport medicine physician. Glassdoor reports $180,796 as the yearly salary for a primary care sports medicine physician. Payscale gives $184,153 as the average base salary. CareerExplorer lists the average salary as $200,890, while Comparably says the sports medicine physician average salary is $132,956.

What accounts for a broad range of salaries when we simply look at average salary before getting into factors that affect it? Mostly, these sources include different data within their calculations. They may be considering varying years, base salary versus total compensation, subspecialties included within the data or salaries reported to the site compared to physician surveys or other forms of research. It’s helpful to look at numerous sources and also to consider the many factors that affect an average salary in this subspecialty.

Related: The Definitive Guide to wRVU Physician Compensation

Factors That Affect Sports Medicine Salary

Many factors play a role in salary. The following lists a number of these factors that impact the salaries of sports medicine physicians.

Salary by Gender

Physicians within this subspecialty are broken down into 74.5 percent male and 25.5 percent female. The income differs, as the male income for this field is $204,073, while the female income is $164,268.


Whether a career is in demand may impact salary. While the job outlook was declining for this position in previous years beginning in 2019, the demand is now expected to increase by 2.15 percent a year, with people placed in 72,500 new positions by 2029, according to It’s worth considering that the coronavirus pandemic may have played a role in the previous decline.

Work Location

Where you live is an important factor regarding your salary. For this profession, people make the most money when they work in non-metro areas of 20,000 or more people, at $384,458, according to MGMA data. The next highest is in metro areas of more than one million, at $304,940. Following that, sports medicine physicians make $297,023 in metro areas under 250,000 and $288,495 in metro areas of 250,000 to one million in population.

The region of the United States also makes a difference. The highest median income for this position is in the Southern U.S. at $320,788. After that, it is the Midwest at $307,848, the West at $289,245 and the East at $284,250.

Separate from the part of the country, the type of practice where you work plays a role in income. Sports medicine physicians make more when they work for physician owned businesses, with a salary of $325,066. Those who work for hospitals make $298,060, while practices with another type of majority owner make $274,216. In addition, these physicians make more in multispecialty practices, making $304,278 compared to the $296,338 salary at single specialty practices.

Total Compensation

Additional compensation in addition to the base salary makes a major difference. lists a median base salary of $245,736, then showing that total compensation can go up to $358,938. This is a significant increase in total income, adding more than $100,000 to the base salary. It includes benefits, paid time off, a retirement plan and bonuses. This source notes that the median bonus for this role is $31,348. Payscale says that these physicians make bonuses of up to $40,000 and a profit sharing range of $10,000 to $25,000.


Simply continuing in the same profession and adding years of experience should increase your income naturally. Payscale shows that entry level sports medicine doctors make four percent less than average, while those in their early career make three percent less. Those in their late career make three percent more, while experienced ones make seven percent more.


You may utilize certain skills within your role as a sports medicine physician, which could change your salary expectations. Payscale shows that these type of physicians make these average salaries related to the skill:

  • Physical Therapy: $150,000
  • Training: $169,161
  • Sports Nutrition: $181,942
  • Medicine/Surgery: $198,894
  • Orthopedics: $204,817

Salary by Sports Medicine Subspecialty

Sports medicine is a subspecialty of family medicine within the medical field. We can compare it to some related specialties and subspecialties to get a better idea of salary expectations. While ZipRecruiter shares $183,344 as the sport medicine physician salary, it notes these higher paying specialties/subspecialties:

  • Remote physical medicine and rehabilitation physician: $211,774 per year
  • Family medicine physician: $214,241
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation physician: $216,261 – $284,285 per year

Average Loan Debt

The amount of student loan debt used toward becoming a doctor is about $200,000, according to Student Loan Planner. You end up paying significantly more than that over the course of the loan when you add in the interest over time.

Changing the amount you owe on student loan debt can help your physician income go further. This can be achieved through forgiveness or refinancing the loans. If you can get a reduced interest rate on the debt, you owe less, and you’ll ultimately take home more income from your salary. We partner with several providers to offer special discount rates for refinancing medical school debt.

Related: How Moving Can Help Physicians Pay Off Student Loans

How to Increase Salary in Sports Medicine

There are numerous ways to create more income once you are working as a sports medicine doctor. Some methods include:

  • Relocating to a higher paying area, while factoring in the cost of living in each area
  • Gaining additional certifications
  • Working locum tenens, which means temporarily filling in for another person
  • Participating in research and development

Let’s discuss a few other ways to potentially increase your income. First, consider changing your type of practice. If you’re working for someone else, consider starting your own practice or partnering with others to start one. If you already have a private practice, you could greatly increase your income by purchasing real estate for your office rather than losing money on renting the space.

Another significant way to change your salary is to make changes to how you spend your time. You will make more money by spending more time on direct patient hours rather than on paperwork and other less technical tasks. Maximize your time by hiring an assistant, such as a PA or NP, to take on these other roles. If you’re working for an employer, see if you can negotiate another role to handle those tasks.

Further, if you have an employer, negotiating a bonus creates a significant opportunity to increase your total compensation per year. Consider different types of bonus structures, such as a signing bonus or production bonus.

Build a Retirement

Salary considerations should not only focus on yearly income. It’s also important to think about how that income is building toward your future. Just as some of it automatically goes toward your social security through your taxes, you should also be thinking about a retirement plan. These can help your future as well as your current finances through tax savings.

You have options based on your employment situation.

Employer-Offered Plans

When you have an employer like a hospital, clinic or physician-owned facility, your employer may offer certain retirement plans or you may be able to negotiate for them. Some employer-offered retirement plan types include:

  • 401(k) retirement plans
  • SIMPLE IRA plans
  • Profit-sharing plans
  • Employee stock ownership plans
  • Other options

Non-Employer Retirement Plans

Alternatively, you can set up retirement plans separate from an employer. This could be a good option if you have more than one employer, if you work as an independent contractor or if you have your own practice. The best option is an individual retirement account, or IRA. Types of IRAs include a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. If you’re working as a sports medicine physician and you have a spouse who doesn’t work, you can set up a spousal IRA for your spouse. Another option for retirement savings is fixed annuities.

Malpractice Insurance

Another thing to think about is malpractice insurance. Malpractice insurance is important because it protects you in your position as a healthcare provider. This is professional liability insurance that becomes a lifeline if a patient of yours experiences an injury or death from your services. Likely, the state where you practice, and many employers if applicable, will require you to have medical malpractice insurance. Nonetheless, consider the type of occurrence vs claims-made, with or without tail, and ensure you have enough coverage in case of a problem. This form of insurance could save your income and assets.

Sports Medicine Salary Negotiations

Negotiating is one of the top ways to increase your sports medicine salary. Of course, this is relevant when you have an employer. Nonetheless, it could potentially also come into play if you have partners who have a say in your salary. Negotiations can make a large difference to your income both in the beginning and over the course of your career. Strongly negotiating a good salary from the beginning puts you off on the best footing to make a higher salary from then on. You can continue to negotiate when the time is right to ensure you are always making as much as you can, and negotiations provide ways to increase your salary that you may not automatically be given by an employer, such as bonuses.

Negotiations help to determine your starting salary with a new employer. In addition, you can negotiate the various features that make up total compensation. These could include paid time off, a bonus structure, profit sharing and other benefits. Negotiate whenever you change jobs, add credentials or gain new skills.

During negotiations, it’s helpful to come into the process having done some research on the value of skills, experience, certifications, subspecialties and other factors. Be confident in your worth and ask to be fairly compensated for the skills and experience you have, no more and no less. That said, negotiating is not easy for everyone. If you fail to do it properly, you could miss out on obtaining the highest salary befitting your situation. That’s why it makes sense for many professionals like yourself to gain expert assistance. A professional can use their expertise to review your contract and negotiate it for you. Contact Physicians Thrive to learn more about how you can earn the highest salary with a contract review individualized to your unique situation.

Protect Your Sports Medicine Salary

Finally, disability insurance is another type of insurance worth having. Your salary is dependent on your ability to perform your work. If something should happen that stands in the way, your sports medicine salary is at risk. An own-occupation disability insurance policy provides the necessary safety net to provide compensation in these types of situations.

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