Master's in Kinesiology: Salary and Career Facts

Learn about your career options after completing a master's in kinesiology program, where you'll have learned how the human body moves. Get more information about master's degrees in kinesiology, areas of specialization, career options and salary prospects. Schools offering Exercise Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Do Individuals With a Master's Degree in Kinesiology Do?

A master's degree in kinesiology can prepare individuals for a variety of different careers, many of which involve athletics. For instance, it is possible to use the degree to get a job as an athletic trainer, coach, physical education teacher or kinesiotherapist.

Athletic trainers may be hired by a university athletic department or professional sports team to work with athletes in diagnosing and treating sports injuries. Another position in athletics is as a coach. They manage sports teams at the high school, college or professional level, advising athletes on a wide range of topics, including those related to kinesiology. For example, coaches of sports that involve running may try to help athletes find ways to improve their running form. High school and college physical education teachers may provide similar advice, but they typically teach a broad range of sports to students with little previous experience, instead of focusing on just one team. Outside of the world of organized athletics, individuals with a master's degree in kinesiology can become exercise physiologists, sometimes called kinesiotherapists. They design fitness plans for patients who are overcoming chronic illnesses and want to improve their strength, mobility and aerobic capacity.

Take a look at the following table for some more information about these career possibilities:

Athletic Trainer Coach Physical Education Teacher Exercise Physiologist
Key Responsibilities Diagnose and treat musculoskeletal injuries in athletes; design recovery programs for injured athletes Hold practice sessions; develop competition strategies; help athletes improve form and technique Teach students about sports, health and wellness; supervise students in and out of the classroom Prepare fitness programs for patients recovering from chronic conditions; measure health indicators; ensure patient safety
Licensure Requirements License required in most states Certification may be required License and certification required in public school Professional certification available, licensure required in one state
Job Growth (2014-2024)*21% 6% 6% (for all high school teachers) 11%
Mean Salary (2015)* $46,940 $40,050 (for coaches and scouts) $60,440 (for all secondary school teachers, except special and career education) $49,740

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is Kinesiology?

Kinesiology is the study of movement across physical activities involved in sports, exercise and daily living. Studies in kinesiology provide an understanding of the human body, how it works and how to treat and prevent injuries; this knowledge has particular applications to the elderly, disabled, children and athletes.

What Will I Learn in a Master's Degree Program?

Some of the topics that may be covered in a master's program in kinesiology are sports psychology, kinesiology technology, ethics, physical assessments, research methods, therapeutic exercises and anatomy. You'll gain an understanding of human motor skills and ergonomics. In addition, you may develop communication skills and learn to help the disabled or injured address movement issues. Hands-on practice is afforded through lab and clinical components included in the curricula. Online and on-campus programs are available.

What Specializations Are Available?

Many master's degree programs in kinesiology offer a variety of emphasis areas from which you can choose. Specializations may include:

  • Physical education
  • Pedagogy
  • Exercise physiology
  • Athletic training
  • Wellness management
  • Biomechanics
  • Sports management

What Are Some Job Possibilities?

According to the American Kinesiology Association, there are a variety careers available in kinesiology. Master's degree programs can prepare you for many of these careers, especially the more advanced positions that require graduate study. Career options may include:

  • Athletic trainer
  • Exercise physiologist
  • Physical education teacher
  • Coach
  • Sports administrator

What Will I Earn?

Since a master's degree program in kinesiology can prepare you for various careers, salaries vary depending on your chosen profession. According to salary data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, the mean salary for athletic trainers in 2015 was $46,940, for instance. The mean annual salary for coaches and scouts collectively was $40,050 in the same year, and exercise physiologists earned a mean salary of $49,740. For all a high school teachers, except those in special and career education, which is a group that includes physical education teachers, the average annual salary was $60,440.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Even if you don't want to earn a master's degree in kinesiology, you can get a job in a kinesiology-related field. For instance, the minimum educational requirement for a fitness instructor is a high school diploma. They offer personal training services or teach group classes at fitness clubs or recreation centers, like yoga or stationary cycling. Alternatively, you could get a master's degree that leads to a different health-related career. For example, by completing a master's-level physician assistant (PA) program, you can start a career as a PA, which involves working closely with physicians to diagnose and treat injury or illness in patients, including prescribing medication. Aspiring PAs must also pass a licensure exam.

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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