How to Become a Kinesiologist in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a kinesiologist. Learn about certification and education requirements and job duties to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Exercise Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Kinesiologist?

Kinesiology involves the study of human movement, focusing on evidence-based medical procedures to analyze, preserve and enhance mobility. According to the College foundation of North Carolina, there are three types of kinesiologists: exercise kinesiologists, who deal with how the human body moves in areas such as dance and recreation, biomechanic kinesiologists, who deal with patients who have an affliction that hinders their movement and psychomotor behavior experts who treat individuals who suffer from conditions that inhibit the normal relationship between perception and reaction times with motor skill performance.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree, master's or doctoral degree required by some employers
Education Field of Study Kinesiology, exercise science
Key Responsibilities Work with patients suffering from limited physical movement; apply physical sciences concepts to aid in rehabilitation, prevention and management; offer rehabilitation, movement and ergonomics research and design policies in patient consultations
Certification Teacher certification required to work in middle and high schools
Job Growth (2018-2028) 3% (all middle school teachers)*
4% (all high school teachers)*
2% (all physical therapists)*
19% (all athletic trainers)*
Median Salary (2018) $58,600 ( all middle school teachers)*
$60,320 (all high school teachers)*
$87,930 (all physical therapists)*
$47,510 (all athletic trainers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Research Kinesiologist Career Duties

Kinesiologists work with people who have experienced an illness, have been born with a disability or have had an accident that limits their physical movement. They assess movement of patients and apply concepts of physical sciences that aid in rehabilitation, prevention and management of physical conditions in the areas of sports, work and exercise. Kinesiologists consult with patients based on current research and design policies related to rehabilitation, movement, ergonomics and occupational health and safety. To work as a kinesiologist, one must earn at least 4-year degree from a college or university. Many occupations in kinesiology require an advanced degree.

Step 2: Consider Career Options of a Kinesiologist

As a kinesiologist, you could work in many different areas related to movement and medicine, such as physical education, physical therapy, athletic training or recreational program management. Some kinesiologists may work within the physical education departments of public schools, while many others may pursue a master's degree in kinesiology in order to work with professional athletes, to manage a sports team or to perform research. So consider carefully what area you would like to pursue, since you must choose the appropriate degree program in order to meet your career goals.

Step 3: Earn a Degree in Kinesiology

Find a college or university that offers programs in the various areas of kinesiology from the list of accredited programs on the American Kinesiology Association's website. Degree programs may allow students to study towards a degree in kinesiology with options in health and exercise science, physical education and athletic training. Other universities' Departments of Kinesiology may offer Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Exercise Science or B.S. in Athletic Training programs. Courses may include biomechanics, psychology, clinical neurology, pathophysiology, rehabilitation procedures, anatomy and physiology.

Step 4: Earn Certification

University students looking to teach or coach at the middle or high school level must obtain teacher certification. Many programs include an option for individuals wishing to teach. Students studying kinesiology at the undergraduate level are eligible to apply for various certifications. Certifications include those available from the American Council on Exercise (ACE), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

Step 5: Earn an Advanced Degree

Some positions, such as teaching in colleges or universities, working in medical offices, training professional athletes or working in research related fields require advanced degrees. If you are interested in these areas, you will need a graduate degree, typically a Master of Science or Ph.D. in Kinesiology. Some kinesiologists move into other careers and become chiropractors, physical therapists, sport lawyers or occupational therapists.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Exercise physiologists are also known as kinesiotherapists. In general, they develop exercise and fitness plans, programs and regimens that assist patients in the recovery from chronic debilitating conditions such as pulmonary disease or cardiovascular disease. They strive to help the patient improve flexibility and overall cardiovascular function, as well as body composition.

A similar occupation is that of recreational therapist, which, like exercise physiologist only requires a bachelor's degree. These individuals also deal with individuals who may be suffering from a physical disability or recovering from an injury or surgical procedure. Using various forms of recreation including arts and crafts, dance, sports, music and community outings, they develop a recreational therapy program that can serve to improve the patient's overall physical and mental well being as a functioning member of society.

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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