Your Guide to Exercise Science Careers

Posted October 9, 2014 | By csponline

The U.S. health and fitness industry is growing faster than ever due to increasing, widespread interest in disease prevention and health promotion. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects fitness employment to increase by 29 percent through 2018, a rate much faster than that of average career growth. So how can you take advantage of the shift toward healthier lifestyles? Earning the right degree is a great place to start. An exercise science degree can get you on track to rewarding health and fitness careers.

Exercise Science Careers


Depending on experience and individual skills, coaching professionals can work at the high school, college, amateur or professional level. As an athletic coach, you will teach athletes the skills and strategies they need to excel. Coaches also provide guidance in both training and career decisions. The average salary for sports coaches is around $28,000 annually.

Another option for individuals who are interested in coaching is the wellness field. Wellness coaches work with clients to develop strategies for prevention and healthy living. As a wellness coach, you will motivate your clients as well as provide them with information and tools to meet their overall health goals. These goals can be related to weight management, nutrition, stress reduction and other lifestyle components. Wellness coaches earn an average of $42,000 a year.

Education and Training

Education and training requirements vary for coaching positions. Most coaches, both athletic and wellness, have a bachelor’s degree in exercise science or a related field. Many have also completed an internship or other form of real-world volunteer work in the field. For sports coaches, most employers require extensive experience in the sport that will be coached.

Personal Trainer 

Personal trainers work one-on-one with their clients and may also teach group classes. They help both experienced fitness lovers and those who are new to the gym to achieve the results they want. Personal trainers develop effective fitness plans and provide guidance and motivation while they help clients meet their goals. Some are self-employed while others find employment at fitness centers and other health care facilities. The average salary for personal trainers is about $32,000 annually.

Education and Training

Personal trainers need to have a thorough understanding of body mechanics and function, which is why a degree in exercise science or a related field is a good choice if you are considering this career. Studying exercise science will allow you to fully grasp your role in providing health and fitness services to your clients. Most fitness centers require a bachelor’s degree for employment as a personal trainer in addition to certificates in a specialized area.

Exercise Physiologist

Exercise physiologists work with patients who are suffering from issues related to body compensation, the cardiovascular system, muscular strength, flexibility and more. These professionals address the cause of these problems and create exercise routines that can alleviate any adverse effects. Exercise physiologists often work in the athletic training departments of colleges or universities, fitness centers, rehabilitation clinics and hospitals. The median annual salary for exercise physiologists is around $48,000

Education and Training

A bachelor’s degree in a health science is required for all entry-level positions in the exercise physiology field, and many employers are looking for candidates who have additional certifications for specialized client care.

Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist

For many patients with heart or lung disease, lifestyle changes are an effective first step to reduce health risks and improve quality of life. These conservative treatments are favored by patients who do not wish to undergo major surgery. Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists work to educate patients about the causes of heart and lung disease as well as help them to manage the symptoms. The average salary for cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists is about $43,000.

Education and Training

A bachelor’s degree in exercise science, kinesiology or physiology is required in order to become a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist. Beyond entry-level positions, a master’s degree in exercise science or similar fields is a good choice to increase employability.

Further Study

You may also choose to complete graduate work in the exercise science field. Students who earn master’s degrees in exercise science can fill leadership and management roles in fitness, health and sports performance settings. Job titles for these types of positions include the following:

  • Program director
  • Clinical coordinator
  • Clinical exercise specialist
  • Director of rehabilitation and wellness
  • Lifestyle consultation manager

According to the BLS, about 57 percent of high-level professionals in the exercise science field hold a master’s degree.

Exercise Science at CSP

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Exercise Science program consists of 41 credit hours and is offered fully online. It is designed for students who are interested in beginning a career in exercise science. The undergraduate program focuses on kinesiology concepts in human movement, exercise and management.

The Master of Science in Exercise Science is designed to advance the skills and knowledge of current and future exercise science professionals. It consists of 33 to 36 credit hours. By utilizing a combination of theoretical inquiry and practical application, our graduate exercise science program allows you to gain greater insight into exercise testing and prescription in diverse client populations.

Both of our exercise science programs provide a comprehensive study of the fundamental concepts of kinesiology and health such as biomechanics, exercise physiology, exercise prescription, health promotion and disease prevention. For more information on these exciting careers, download our exercise science career guide.




Also published on Medium.