Bachelor's Degrees in Fitness: Online and Campus-Based Programs

Earning a bachelor's degree in fitness can land you a job as gym director, personal trainer or exercise instructor. Get information about online and campus-based fitness programs that can put you on the path to an active career. Schools offering Education - Sports Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Requirements for a Bachelor's Degree in Fitness?

Several types of fitness bachelor's degree programs are available that share similar curriculum and requirements. You might pursue a bachelor's degree in sports and fitness or a bachelor's degree in kinesiology with a fitness specialization. Bachelor's degree programs in exercise science are another option if you're interested in fitness. All of these fitness-related programs typically lead to a Bachelor of Science.

In a fitness bachelor's degree program, you'll complete courses in kinesiology, physiology and nutrition. You'll also learn about fitness instruction, fitness management, injury prevention and sports psychology. Many schools offer practicums, clinical experiences or internships, designed to provide hands-on experience in the field; these may or may not be a program requirement.

To earn your bachelor's degree, you'll also take general education courses like English, math and chemistry. Many schools require you to take classes in health, human development and communications. Some programs are designed specifically for certified healthcare professionals.

Common Courses Physiology, kinesiology, sports psychology, nutrition, injury prevention
Online Availability Online programs are available with some in-person requirements
Certification ACE certifies some fitness workers, employers seek certified fitness workers
Career Options Exercise instructor, gym director, personal trainer
Median Salary (2018)$39,820 (for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors)*
Job Outlook (2016-26)10% growth (for all fitness trainers and aerobics instructors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Can I Earn My Degree Online?

You can find some partially online fitness bachelor's degree programs. These programs allow you to complete much of your coursework online, but they also have in-person requirements, such as internships. Some of these programs are degree-completion programs, designed for individuals who have already earned an associate's degree and are certified in a healthcare profession. Some mostly online courses may require you take exams under the supervision of a proctor.

Most online programs are delivered through virtual classrooms that allow you to view and read lectures, participate in class discussions, communicate with instructors and submit assignments, all via the Web. Typically, you're able to work according to your own schedule, but school deadlines and exam dates still apply.

Do I Need to Be Certified?

The BLS notes that employers usually look for certified fitness workers, and there are many certification options available. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) certifies personal trainers, lifestyle and weight management consultants, group instructors and fitness specialists ( Yoga and Pilates instructors often take courses and earn certification through other organizations. Many bachelor's degree programs in fitness are designed to help prepare you to seek various certifications.

What Jobs Will I Be Prepared for?

With a bachelor's degree in fitness, you'll be qualified for many jobs in the fitness industry, including gym director, exercise instructor and personal trainer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most of these jobs require you to be physically fit and able to lead individuals and classes ( You might find work at corporations, health facilities and fitness centers.

Gym and athletic center directors spend time organizing schedules, hiring and coordinating instructors, performing general management duties and meeting sales goals. Personal trainers spend one-on-one time with clients, tailoring workouts to help clients meet their fitness goals. Fitness instructors are often experts in a particular area, such as Pilates or yoga, and lead groups through planned routines. Often, fitness centers audition their group instructors.

With experience, many fitness workers advance to management positions. Some open their own gyms or start their own private training firms. The BLS notes that bachelor's degrees in fitness fields are often necessary to move into management positions and can prepare you to run your own business.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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