What Education Is Needed for a Sports Nutrition & Exercise Science Career?

Becoming a sports nutritionist or an exercise physiologist starts with earning an associate's or a bachelor's degree and gaining some form of certification. Read on to learn about the education requirements for a career in this field. Schools offering Exercise Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Education Overview

At least an associate's degree in sports nutrition or exercise science is needed to qualify for most common certification programs. Beyond that, becoming an exercise physiologist requires a four-year degree and specialized certification, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's, doctorate
Concentrations Therapeutic exercise, rehabilitation,
Online Availability Fully available
Possible Careers Physical therapist, athletic trainer, recreational therapist
Median Salary (2018) $49,270 (for all exercise physiologists)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 13% (for all exercise physiologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

American Society of Exercise Physiologists Certification

In order to be eligible for certification by the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP), you'll need a college degree in either exercise science, exercise physiology, kinesiology, or another related field. The exercise physiologist certification offered by ASEP covers nine areas of which seven must be passed with a C or greater:

  • Exercise physiology
  • Environmental physiology
  • Exercise metabolism
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Kinesiology
  • Research Design
  • Nutrition
  • Fitness Assessment and prescription
  • Biomechanics
  • Exercise and special populations

National Association of Sports Nutrition Licensure

The primary sports nutritionist license offered by the National Association of Sports Nutrition is an entry-level sports nutrition credential requiring at least an associate's degree. For the master sports nutritionist license, NASN requires a bachelor's degree or an advanced degree in sports nutrition, exercise science, or a related field that includes four years of study in sports nutrition and sports science. Master's-level candidates must also have scored 90% or better on the primary level exam. People recognized as primary sports nutritionists have studied the following subjects:

  • Testing body composition
  • Evaluating and understanding metabolism, exercise, and their relation
  • Developing menus
  • Anatomy
  • Various fitness tests

International Society of Sports Nutrition Certification

The certified sports nutritionist program is offered by the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). As with many other certification programs, to sit for the certification examination, you must have at least a bachelor's degree in sports nutrition, exercise science, or a similar field such as kinesiology, nutrition, biology, or physical education. The ISSN certified sports nutritionist program teaches the following:

  • Exercise and integrated physiology
  • Nutrition
  • Sports psychology
  • Bioenergetics

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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