If you have a passion for fitness and enjoy helping others learn about healthy eating habits, then a degree program in health and fitness education may be right for you. Read on for more information about career options, salaries and academic requirements for fitness workers and health educators.
Health and fitness educators use their knowledge of movement and its relationship to an individual's physical and psychological wellbeing to teach others how to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle. In general, fitness degree programs may include the study of exercise and wellness, exercise science or kinesiology. These are interdisciplinary fields of study that incorporate the biological, physical and social sciences, and that can help you prepare for a career in the dynamic field of health and fitness.
An education in health and fitness may help you find work in a number of venues, including hospitals, corporate wellness centers, gyms, schools or community settings. You may choose to become a fitness instructor, personal trainer or health educator. You might also qualify for a position as an aerobic or group exercise instructor, fitness director or physical education teacher.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of fitness trainers and instructors is expected to increase by an average rate of 13% nationwide between 2012 and 2022. The BLS also reported that the median annual salary for fitness trainers and aerobic instructors was $33,020 in May 2013.
Employment of health educators, who focus on educating others about proper nutrition and illness prevention, was expected to increase by 21%, or faster than average, between 2012 and 2022. As the costs of healthcare increase, the demand for health educators will grow as individuals seek methods to avoid costly healthcare interventions. The BLS reported that the median annual income of health educators in May 2013 was $49,210 (www.bls.gov).
The BLS reported that a professional certification is usually required to obtain a job as a fitness worker, which can vary according to the job. Although not always necessary, some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in a health- or fitness-related field of study, such as kinesiology or exercise science. Health educators, including physical education teachers, usually need a 4-year degree. A graduate degree may be required for advancement in some areas of the field.
A Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science or a related field, such as kinesiology, can open the door to a variety of health and fitness careers. Depending on your area of study, you may take classes in sports medicine and nutrition, biology, psychology and human physiology, to name a few. An internship may also be required to obtain a degree in exercise science.