Becoming a Sport Psychologist in the United States

Baseball Team CelebratingHere at Sporting Bounce we list sport psychologists and sport psychology consultants from around the globe. We have a number of practitioners listed in the United States and below we outline the journeys our practitioners will have gone through to achieve their qualifications. We hope this information will be useful for those of you who are perhaps thinking of embarking on the journey yourself or those of who you are considering employing a sport psychologist or sport psychology consultant in the United States.

Sport psychologists work can work with athletes, coaches, teams and sometimes the parents of youth athletes. The type of work sport psychologists and sport psychology consultants do is varied. Typically this involves working to help athletes improve their psychological approach to competition. Examples of this type of work includes confidence-enhancement, the development of emotional control strategies, how to manage mistakes, deal with pressure or work with teams to help them be more cohesive. There are different routes to being able to work as a sport psychology consultant in the United States. 


Becoming a Sport Psychologist

To become a sport psychologist in the United States you will need to follow the route to become a licensed psychologist. This means:

  • Getting an undergraduate in psychology.
  • Getting a master degree in psychology 
  • Obtaining a doctoral degree in psychology. There are two different types of doctoral degrees. This could either be a Ph.D., which is a research based-degree or a Psy.D. (doctor of psychology) which is usually based on practical work and examinations.
  • Accruing supervised practice hours (1,500 to 6,000 hours, depending on the state).
  • To become licensed to practice in a state you will have to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) which is a multiple choice test. You may also be asked to complete an an oral exam or a jurisprudence exam.

It is interesting to note that there are currently no sport psychology doctoral level programs accredited by the American Psychological Association. So many of the sport psychologists come from clinical and counselling backgrounds. To use the term sport psychologist, an individual must be licensed to practice psychology in the state in which they work, as per the process outlined above, and they must meet the American Psychological Association-Division 47 educational and training standards.

The American Board of Sport Psychology (ABSP) also offers national certification in sport psychology. Again individuals are required to have a doctorate from a regionally accredited school, a state psychology license, and to complete the ABSP's training program which you can find here


Certified Mental Performance Consultant

The Association for Applied Sport Psychology also offers certification. To become a Certified Mental Performance Consultant individuals are required to complete a certification exam, have a post-graduate degree (masters or doctoral level in sport psychology), a signed mentor or employer verification form, a signed ethical code statement, a CV, and three references. 

Individuals who have become Certified Mental Performance Consultants are recognised as being able to help clients optimize performance, enjoyment, and/or personal development in sport and other domains (e.g., performing arts, military).


How Much do Sport Psychologists Earn in the US?

Data suggests that as of 2020 the median salary for a sport psychologist in the United States is $72,347


Further Information

If you would like to read more about some of the world’s best sport psychologists’ journeys, including those sport psychologists and certified mental performance from the United States, this book on Becoming a Sport Psychologist edited by Sporting Bounce members Dr’s Paul McCarthy and Marc Jones may be of interest. 

If you are interested in employing a sport psychology consultant then please remember to verify the background, qualifications and experience of any person whose services you are considering using.

If you are interested in beginning your own journey to becoming a sport psychologist or sport psychology consultant in the United States then we wish you all the very best in this rewarding profession.