What's the Job Description of an Exercise Physiologist?

Exercise physiologists create exercise programs targeted for individual physical limitations and strengths. Keep reading to learn about additional job duties, education requirements and certification options for this profession. Schools offering Exercise Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Occupation Overview

As an exercise physiologist, you'll assess the physical fitness of patients in hospitals and other medical facilities to measure strength, blood pressure, heart rate, and the amount of oxygen in the blood. You'll develop progressive exercise regimens that are safe for patients with varied, sometimes serious conditions, in addition to monitoring small groups of patients who are exercising and documenting their progress. The exercise equipment used in hospital programs is similar to that found in gyms, but some may be specially developed for patients' needs. Exercise physiologists who work with hospital patients need to have the ability to inspire confidence and motivate patients.

Other settings where exercise physiologists might work include nursing homes, sports medicine clinics and physical therapy offices. Exercise physiologists also work with healthier client populations, managing fitness programs at gyms or developing corporate fitness programs. You may even choose to pursue work in professional sports, developing exercise regimens to maximize athletic potential for particular sports.

Important Facts About Exercise Physiologists

Key Skills Physical fitness, interpersonal communication, critical decision-making
Median Salary (2012) $49,040 per year
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 19% growth
Similar Occupations Chiropractor, paramedic, massage therapist, vocational nurse

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

The minimum education for an exercise physiologist is a bachelor's degree in exercise science or physiology. Undergraduate exercise science programs typically include courses in anatomy, physiology, physics, biology, chemistry, biomechanics, athlete training, therapeutic exercise, and nutrition.

To work in some settings, like hospitals, a graduate degree may be required. To earn certain professional credentials, you also need a master's degree. Master's programs include research and more advanced coursework that teaches how specific body systems respond to exercise and methods for evaluating these responses. With a doctoral degree, you may pursue research in exercise science and/or teach.

In addition to a college degree, most employers require you to hold CPR certification, which may be earned in your school program, from your employer or through the American Red Cross. Certification in cardiac care and basic life support is also typically required if you work in a hospital.

Professional Certification

Though not mandatory to practice as an exercise physiologist, you may find that earning a credential enhances your chances of advancing in your career. Certification for exercise physiologists is offered through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP).

To qualify for first-time certification through the ACSM, you need a master's degree, CPR certification, and 600 hours of clinical experience (www.acsm.org). To become board certified through the ASEP, you need a degree in exercise science, physiology, or a related area (www.asep.org). To earn either certification, passing an exam is required. To maintain these certifications, you'll need to fulfill continuing education requirements.

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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