Kinesiology exercise and fitness science is the study of human movement and fitness. Read on to learn more about educational and employment options for kinesiologists and other fitness specialists.
The design of exercise regimens, exercise machinery, physical education programs and other fitness curricula require the expertise of kinesiology exercise and fitness science professionals. Kinesiologists study human movement, especially as it pertains to exercise and fitness.
As a kinesiologist and fitness science expert, you may be employed as a personal trainer, general trainer, group exercise instructor or fitness director. In your position as a personal or general trainer, you would work one-on-one with a client or a small group, with exercise demonstrations and instruction taking place in a client's home, gym or health club. As a group exercise instructor, you may teach classes in cycling, stretching or strength training. If you're employed as a fitness director, you'll be more involved with the administrative, business and customer service aspects of a health club, rather than physical training.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), fitness trainers and instructors held approximately 267,000 jobs in 2012. In the same year, roughly 58% worked for fitness and recreational centers. Employment is expected to increase by an average rate of 13% from 2012 to 2022; professionals with a degree in fitness may enjoy the best opportunities. In May 2013, fitness workers and aerobics instructors earned a mean annual wage of $37,790 (www.bls.gov).
The education requirements for kinesiology exercise and fitness science vary according to your area of specialization. On-the-job training is rare; health clubs and fitness centers expect you to be well trained and prepared on the day you begin employment. A professional certification is mandatory; hiring trends indicate that more employers are showing a preference for applicants with a bachelor's degree.
Degree programs in kinesiology may include topics in exercise methodology, human biomechanics, sports injuries and sports physiology. You may also take classes in business, research methods and statistics. In addition to the previously mentioned career options, successful completion of a degree program may help you qualify for a position as an exercise physiologist, physical education teacher or sports medicine professional.
Undergraduate programs may lead to a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Health and allow for concentrations in applied movement or exercise science, physical culture and sports, health promotion or sports management. Similar areas of concentration may be found in a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training or a more general Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. Undergraduate programs usually require 120 credit hours to complete and cover topics in anatomy, exercise physiology, nutrition and fitness assessments.
Master's degree programs in athletics, kinesiology and physical education are professional courses of study that can help you prepare for a specific career. For example, a Master of Athletic Training program might qualify you for a position in a hospital or sports medicine clinic. Once enrolled, you might have the opportunity to study the relationship between performance and drugs, therapeutic modalities and medical conditions.
As an aspiring fitness director for a clinic or hospital, you may want to consider a Master of Science in Kinesiology program. To teach at a college or university, you'll most likely need a Master of Education in Physical Education. Curriculum requirements may include courses in data processing, exercise science, research and instructional strategies.
A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Kinesiology would allow you to focus on teaching while pursuing a concentration in sports psychology, exercise physiology, motor control or athletic training. Upon graduation, you may pursue a career as a scholar or educator at a university.
To work as a personal trainer, you'll probably need a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) or National Strength and Conditioning Certified Personal Trainer (NCA-PT) credential. As a new hire in a health club, you may be able to work as a group fitness instructor prior to certification. A high school diploma and certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is usually required to pursue certification; additional criteria include a passing score on a comprehensive exam.
Credentials are usually valid for two years; continuing education courses are required for renewal. Certifying agencies, including the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), are approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.