Physical Therapist vs Sports Medicine Doctor: What’s the better career choice for you? 

Physical Therapist vs Sports Medicine Doctor: What's the better career choice for you?

There are various specialties that cover the care of the human body. Two of the most well-known specialties are physical therapy and sports medicine therapy. Often, physicians practicing physical therapy are mistaken for those practicing sports medicine, and while they have some overlap, they are quite different. If you are thinking about specializing in either field, this post is for you. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of each specialty.

Sports Medicine

Physicians that specialize in sports medicine focus mainly on sports-related injuries, the diagnoses of those injuries, and also prevention. sports medicine salaries also tend to rely on where a physician works and the type of athlete they service most often. For example, a sports medicine specialist working with a advanced basketball training program may earn more than six figures a year plus bonuses.

Physical Therapist

Physicians that specialize in physical therapy care for patients who need help maintaining or regaining mobility following an illness or general injury. Physical therapists can further refine their specialties to focus on pediatrics, neurological, orthopedic, geriatric, or cardiopulmonary therapies. This specialty has a lot of room for upward mobility and pay ranges start at $70,000 per year and can also reach six figures. 

Physical Therapist vs Sports Medicine Doctor Education Differences

The training and educational background of each type of physician differs as well. A physical therapist will whole a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree which allows them to work with both regular patients and athletes alike. A sports medicine doctor will have an Orthopedic Degree, and many are also certified orthopedic surgeons. Sports medicine doctors will have to complete at least two years of training relating specifically to sports-related injuries and treatment. This type of doctor is able to treat all levels of athletes but typically won’t treat non-sports-related injuries. 

Rate of Pay Considerations

Attending medical school is not cheap, nor is a quick. Before choosing which specialty to pursue, consider the long-term earnings potential for each field. Of course, aside from wealth planning, passion and a desire to heal should also be considered when choosing a specialty. Physicians working in the field of sports medicine have the chance to work with world-class athletes, or they may choose to work in a hospital. 

The average salary for a doctor of sports medicine ranges between $210,000 and $320,000 per year. Physicians working in the field of physical therapy can work with a range of patients starting from infants ranging to the elderly. The average salary for a doctor of physical therapy ranges between $78,000 and $112,000 per year.  

Which Field is The Best Fit?

Both specialties focus on helping patients regain their mobility and heal from injury with some minor differences. Physicians who enjoy working with a range of patients or who prefer to serve a specific type of non-athlete patient may prefer PT. However, those who are more interested in treating sports-related injuries and would rather focus on fitness readiness would do well to enter the field of sports medicine. Both fields have a high potential for handsome wages and hyper-specialization within the field. 

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