Exercise science is a field of study that uses the health, physical, and biological sciences to understand biomechanical, biochemical, and physiological changes to human movement functionality. Put another way, the central objective of exercise science is to build knowledge on the critical connections between health, nutrition, exercise, and fitness.
Here are a few of the most exciting exercise science jobs, along with the types of degrees you can get to land them.
5 Exciting Jobs In Exercise Science
While there are dozens of potential exercise science jobs you can pursue with a degree, here are five of the most exciting career paths in the field:
- Athletic trainer
- Exercise physiologist
- Scout or Coach
- Fitness center manager
- Recreational therapist
#1. Athletic trainer
The goal of an athletic trainer is straightforward: optimize the health and fitness of athletes. Fitness centers, colleges, and sports teams hire these professionals to manage rehabilitation, monitor injuries and bolster strength through exercise plans and other means.
Beyond the bachelor’s: You may find you need an advanced degree to get these exercise science positions at pro or college teams. Wherever you work as an athletic trainer, you will typically have to be certified and complete continuing education requirements.
Salary expectations: As of April 2021, the average salary for US-based athletic trainers was $47,381, according to Franklin University.
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- Associate Athletic Director
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#2. Exercise physiologist
Another path with an exercise science degree is becoming an exercise physiologist. These professionals work in a clinic or a human performance environment, but typically they work in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. As with athletic trainer positions, this role also designs exercise programs and oversees the impact of the exercises. Plus, EPs know how to administer and read VO2, EKG, and other tests.
Beyond the bachelor’s: It can help to have an advanced degree for these exercise science careers since some high-level positions require them. You will also often need an American College of Sports Medicine certification.
Salary expectations: The average salary in the United States for exercise physiologists is $54,750, per Exercise Science Guide.
#3. Scout or coach
Nutrition, fitness, performance, and strength are important areas of knowledge for coaches at all levels, even high school. Understanding fitness is becoming increasingly important for pro and college scouts as well. While average occupations will grow at 7% through 2028, scouting and coaching positions will expand at 11%, per the California University of Pennsylvania.
Beyond the bachelor’s: Extending your education to a master’s degree can give you access to specialty coaching opportunities.
Salary expectations: In 2019, the average salary for a scout or coach was $34,840.
#4. Fitness center manager
If you want to lead and handle daily operations for a fitness center or gym, this career is for you. Fitness center managers oversee facility maintenance, employee hiring, training, oversight, and member recruitment and retention.
Beyond the bachelor’s: The bachelor’s degree is usually sufficient for education, but it helps to have some experience in management or fitness to land these roles.
Salary expectations: In the US, the average salary for fitness center managers is $43,480.
#5. Recreational therapist
Working with individuals recovering from or living with illnesses, injuries, and disabilities, recreational therapists develop therapy programs of exercises and stretches.
Beyond the bachelor’s: While you can certainly find employment with a bachelor’s, getting a master’s will boost your salary.
Salary expectations: In 2019, recreational therapists made an average of $48,220.
What Types of Exercise Science Degrees Are Available?
Degree options in exercise science include the following:
- Associate’s degree: This two-year exercise science degree gives you a strong foundation and can expand fitness training employment potential.
- Bachelor’s degree: Many employers require this four-year degree. You will take more science and liberal arts classes. In your senior year, you’ll likely need to complete a research project or internship.
- Master’s degree: This one- or two-year exercise science degree, like a bachelor’s, will conclude with a research project or internship. However, you will have to conduct an intensive final presentation or thesis, and you generally invest many more hours.
- Doctoral degree: Getting a Ph.D. in exercise science is a demonstration of your expertise in the field. Generally two or three years, this exercise science degree is focused on research methods, statistics, advanced applied science, and writing. The dissertation is central and is usually a year-long process.
Your Exercise Science Career
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