Sports engineering concentrates on the conception, design and manufacturing of sporting equipment. Sports engineers work in nearly every sport, creating designs that meet specialized specifications to improve athlete safety, durability, performance and skill. Sports engineers are classified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as materials engineers.
BLS figures from 2010 indicate the national annual mean wage for materials engineers is $85,860. This figure factors out to an hourly rate of $41.28 per hour over the course of a standard 40-hour work week before taxes and deductions. The BLS indicates the lowest salary percentile for the field is $51,680, or $24.85 per hour. Those in the highest earnings percentile in the materials engineering field earn $126,800, or $60.96 per hour before deductions.
Factors Affecting Salary
Factors that affect the salary of a sports engineer include engineering expertise, length of professional engineering experience as well as the particular facet of sports an employer is focused on. Large sporting goods manufacturers who conduct testing on a myriad of running shoes are likely to pay much more given their market share than a company that specializes in niche sports or smaller markets. This sentiment is reflected in BLS data, which indicates that materials engineers in commercial manufacturing earn an average salary of $113,010.
Salary By State
BLS statistics indicate that Maryland is home to the highest average salary for materials engineers in the United States. Employees in this occupation category, sports engineers included, earn $112,280 annually, or $53.98 per hour before the deduction of taxes and benefits. The highest paying U.S. metropolitan area for jobs in this employment category is San Jose, California, where workers earn an average of $55.12 per hour, or $114,650 before deductions. States reporting mean incomes less than $73,000 annually for employees in this occupational category include Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky.
Relevant Background and Experience
Employers in the sports engineering industry often seek at minimum a bachelor's degree in materials engineering, chemical engineering or materials chemistry and energy technology. Adept experience in a materials research testing environment is also desired. Due to the fact that testing results are often explicated to sales and other administrative professionals with little scientific knowledge, sports engineers must also posses the keen communication skills necessary to translate scientific data and analytical findings so that they are palpable by other professionals and consumers alike.