Kinesiologist: Career Definition, Job Outlook and Training Requirements

Explore the career requirements for kinesiologists. Get the facts about salary, degree requirements and career outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Exercise Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Kinesiologist?

Kinesiologists study the science of human movement in home, work, sport and recreational environments. With an education in kinesiology, individuals can work as a coach, athletic trainer, fitness instructor or physical therapist, among other options. Kinesiologists will train their patients to use exercises, stretches or therapy to manage pain, prevent injury, increase mobility and facilitate wellness. They will continue to track progress and modify any treatment plans as needed. These professionals will often work with other healthcare professionals to provide the best overall care possible for the patient. Since there isn't specific career data on kinesiologists, the information highlighted in the table below is for physical therapists, who have many of the same duties and education requirements as kinesiologists.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Kinesiology, physical therapy
Key Skills Physical stamina, interpersonal skills, patience, attention to detail
Licensure/Certification Licensure is required in all U.S. states; certification is voluntary
Job Growth (2014-2024) 34% (for all physical therapists)*
Median Salary (2015) $84,020 (for all physical therapists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Kinesiologist Do?

As a kinesiologist, you focus on how the body functions and moves. You work to rehabilitate, prevent and manage disorders that impede bodily movement. Exercise, athletics, work and even daily living are all possible areas in which a kinesiologist may be used. When working, you use extensive scientific approaches involving biology, chemistry, physics, sociology and psychology to examine patients. Because the body responds differently to different stimuli, all of the approaches have to be taken into consideration when working with clients.

What Is the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is expected to be much faster than average for physical therapists from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The major factor behind this outlook is a demand for therapeutic services for the elderly and those afflicted with chronic illnesses. Additionally, physical therapists should have high employment opportunities in urban and suburban areas.

What Training Is Needed for this Job?

To become a kinesiologist in the United States, you typically need to hold a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology or related health area. Kinesiology undergraduate course topics cover human anatomy and physiology, biology, physics, chemistry, exercise science and bio-mechanics. Community colleges sometimes offer two-year associate degrees in kinesiology and exercise science; however, many of these are designed for students who plan to transfer to a four-year college or university to pursue a bachelor's degree in this field.

There are also graduate programs in kinesiology available in some colleges and universities. Graduate programs feature the general wellness and health programs of a typical bachelor's degree level kinesiology program in addition to teaching, administrative and research based curriculums. Those pursuing a graduate level degree have work goals in research, professional exercise science or in college teaching.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Recreational therapy is a similar field that requires a bachelor's degree. Recreational therapists use recreational activities, like crafts, music or aquatics, to help treat ill, injured or disabled patients. Physical therapist assistants and aides are another related option. Physical therapist assistants and aides need an associate's degree, but must also have the proper state certification or license. These professionals help physical therapists treat patients with pain, injuries or illnesses.

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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