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What Are the Different Types of Sports Scientist Jobs?

There are research positions in labs for sports scientists.
Jobs in sports medicine often require a master's degree or higher.
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  • Written By: Susan Abe
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2014
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Sports scientist jobs are not comprised of any concrete inclusive careers and any qualifying single degree or subject of study. For the most part, these jobs are held by individuals who have directed their disciplines — such as nutrition, statistics or psychology — toward the sports arena. The most common undergraduate degrees and fields of study in the U.S. for sports scientist jobs are athletic training and kinesiology. There are also a growing number of undergraduate multidisciplinary programs known as "exercise science" in Great Britain. Those with graduate degrees in sports science include Ph.D.'s in exercise physiology and doctors who complete residencies in sports medicine.

Depending upon their focus, sports scientist jobs can be roughly divided into five different subgroups. These usually emphasize one area, such as instructive, treatment, research-oriented, dietary and descriptive job types, although any sports-related position requires a multidisciplinary and holistic approach. In order to qualify as a "scientist, a bachelor's degree is often assumed as the minimal educational preparation.

Instructive sports scientist jobs include exercise kinesiologists, and fitness instructors and personal trainers if prepared by adequate education in a sports-related field. These individuals work with athletes to design appropriate exercise programs for their particular sports and levels of fitness. This position is sometimes held at a team level, particularly for professional sports.

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Treatment oriented sports scientist jobs are the most numerous in the field, owing to both game-related and overuse injuries. These jobs range from those of an athletic trainer providing treatment immediately following the injury to the physical therapists who might work with an athlete weeks afterwards to rehabilitate the injured area and return the athlete to his or her pre-injury performance level. In between, a physician certified in sports medicine might evaluate and prescribe treatment. If necessary, sports psychologists are available to work with the athlete to deal with performance anxiety or other pertinent issues.

Research-related sports scientist jobs are the most varied and can range from exercise physiologists studying the effects of different factors on performance to research physicians investigating strength rehabilitation on the cellular level. Research may or may not include an athlete's diet. Nutritional sports scientist jobs include dietician and nutritional physiology specialists. These professionals design meals, recipes and allowed supplements for optimal athletic performance. Descriptive sports scientist jobs provide a subject-specific picture of an athlete's performance, whether via statistics or kinesiology specializing in biomechanical aspects of motion.

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