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Exercise Science Careers Guide

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The health and fitness industry is booming, thanks to the nation’s growing attention to disease prevention and health promotion. Professionals are needed to stand on the other side of the treadmill and lead people toward a healthier lifestyle.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of fitness professionals is expected to increase 10 percent through 2026 – faster than average career growth. Careers in the field of exercise science are broad. From personal trainers to cardiac rehab specialists, there is a health and fitness job to fit your career goals.

To pursue a rewarding career in health and fitness, however, the right degree is critical. Concordia University, St. Paul’s exercise science programs deliver a comprehensive study of the fundamental concepts of kinesiology and health such as biomechanics, exercise physiology, exercise prescription, health promotion, disease prevention and disease remediation, so that you are prepared for whatever career you choose in this exciting field.

An exercise science degree from Concordia will prepare students for careers in the following fields:

  • Athletic training
  • Exercise physiology
  • Cardiac rehab

Exercise Science Careers

The health and fitness industry is a dynamic business sector with tremendous career opportunities for professionals with an exercise science degree. The growing focus on health care and overall wellness is increasing demand for many health and fitness jobs concerning health promotion and disease prevention. The following career guide has been compiled using the most recent available information from the BLS. Use this guide to learn about potential job opportunities in the health and fitness sector as well as education requirements and salary expectations for some of the top jobs in exercise science.


Stay in the game with a career as a coach. Depending on your level of experience, professionals can coach high school, college, amateur and professional-level sports. Coaches teach athletes the skills needed to excel in sports and provide athletes with guidance on and off the field. Another side of the coaching profession is wellness coaching. Unlike sports coaches, wellness coaches develop strategies for clients to live healthfully and prevent disease. They provide motivation and tools required to meet physical and emotional health goals. This may include weight management, healthy eating, stress reduction and other aspects of a client’s life.

Education and Training

Required: Bachelor’s degree Education and training requirements vary in this field. Most coaches have a bachelor’s degree in exercise science or a related field, and completed an internship or other form of hands-on experience. When it comes to athletic coaching, extensive experience in sports is required by most employers.

This occupation is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016.

Personal trainer

Personal trainers can lead the way in people achieving their fitness goals. This can include people who need extra encouragement and guidance through a new workout regimen as well as seasoned pros looking to ramp up a routine. Personal trainers work with clients to develop effective fitness plans and provide guidance and motivation. Many personal trainers are self-employed while others find employment at fitness centers and other health care facilities.

Education and Training

Required: High school diploma Recommended: Bachelor’s degree Understanding body mechanics and function is essential for personal trainers. A degree in exercise science or related field is necessary to gain a broader grasp of health and fitness outcomes and to better serve clients. Most fitness centers require a bachelor’s degree for employment as a personal trainer in addition to specialized certificates.

This occupation is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016.

Exercise Physiologist

Exercise can assist in the rehabilitation of individuals with an array of health issues, such as cardiovascular disease and obstacles related to body compensation, muscular strength, flexibility and more. An exercise physiologist works with patients to address the root of a problem through an effective exercise routine. Exercise physiologists can find employment within an athletic training department of a college or university, fitness centers, rehabilitation clinics and hospitals.

Education and Training

Required: Bachelor’s degree Recommended: Master’s degree A bachelor’s degree in a health science is required for entry into this medical field. Many employers are looking for candidates who have specific certifications for greater career mobility.

$47,340 This is the median annual salary as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist

When a patient is diagnosed with heart or lung disease, the first step in conservative treatment entails lifestyle changes to reduce health risks and improve overall quality of life. A cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist can educate patients about heart and lung disease prevention and help manage symptoms.

Education and Training

Required: Bachelor’s degree Recommended: Master’s degree A bachelor’s degree in programs like exercise science, kinesiology or physiology is required for work as a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist. Beyond entry-level positions, a master’s degree in similar fields is ideal.

$43,504 This is the median annual salary as reported by PayScale for a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist.

Further Study

Many individuals also choose to complete graduate work in the exercise science field. Students who earn master’s degrees in exercise science and related disciplines are qualified for leadership and management roles in fitness, health and sports performance settings. According to the BLS, there are about 60 programs in exercise physiology, exercise science, and kinesiology accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) as of 2017.

CSP Online Exercise Science Programs

The Bachelor’s in Exercise Science degree online consists of 49 credit hours and is offered fully online. It is designed for busy adults who are interested in earning a degree and require the flexibility of attending class on their schedule. The undergraduate program focuses on kinesiology concepts in human movement, exercise and management.

The Master’s in Exercise Science online 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, students will gain greater insight regarding exercise testing and prescription as they relate to working with diverse populations.

Download the Exercise Science Career Guide

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