What Careers Can You Get With An Exercise Science Degree?

By Alex Hoffmann on September, 15 2021
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Alex Hoffmann

Dr. Alex Hoffmann is the President of the College of Exercise Science. He earned a doctorate in Sports Management from the United States Sports Academy, a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton, and a bachelor's degree in exercise science from Central College. Prior to his career in academia, Dr. Hoffmann worked as Master Fitness Trainer course instructor for the United States Army, and as a strength and conditioning coach, personal trainer, and nutritionist.

It's no secret that the fitness industry is booming. In fact, fitness trainers and other exercise-related jobs (health coach, fitness instructor, and physical therapist, for example) are expected to increase in demand by at least 13% by 2028.

If you're looking into a career in fitness, it all starts with the right education. Let's talk about some careers you can pursue with an exercise science degree.

 

Careers With An Exercise Science Degree

 

Personal Trainer

No, you don't need a degree to become a personal trainer. However, more and more gyms require bachelor's degrees for their personal trainers in related fields. In fact, the majority of gyms now strongly prefer degrees. Personal trainers who have a bachelor's degree with an exercise science major will ultimately make more money in the industry.

Of course, personal training is only one of the many certifications you can get with this degree. You could also become a group fitness instructor, a health coach, nutrition coach, wellness director, or more. The average salary for a personal trainer with a bachelor's degree falls in the range of $55,000 and $65,000 a year.

The good news for this job is that the degree and the certification are all you need. Qualified personal trainers are in high demand, so if you complete an exercise science program and earn a certification, you're almost guaranteed your choice of exercise science jobs.

There's also plenty of room for growth within the field. There are management positions, physical education opportunities, the ability to become independent, and you can even start your own fitness business from home!

 

Strength & Conditioning Coach

With any degree level from AS to MS, you can become certified as a strength and conditioning coach, working with a wide variety of different athletic programs and sports teams.

Many of the high-level professional and college sports programs are competitive for strength coaches, so having a master's degree is almost a requirement to land a good job in the field these days. The average salary in the field falls close to $50,000 a year. Some coaches holding master's degrees receiving as much as $83,000.

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Athletic Director

Athletic directors are responsible for any number of athletic programs. These could be in schools, clubs, colleges, sports leagues, recreational facilities, or more.

Athletic directors will generally be responsible for overseeing and directing an athletic program that could consist of multiple sports within the specific departments. The director will generally oversee multiple coaches and assistant coaches. Programs will be a mix of physical education, general physical activity, and sport-specific athletic training.

Because of the wide variety of programs, there is also a wide variety in salaries. Some athletic directors could be making under $30,000, while some will be making over $200,000 in high-end college facilities. However, the overall average for an athletic director is around $61,000.

 

Sports Coach

This is a good place to start if you're looking into a career as an athletic director, and it's another option that offers a lot of variety. A middle school volleyball coach is unlikely to make as much money as a college basketball coach, but that doesn't mean it's not as fulfilling.

Depending on the sport and the nature of the program, sports coaches could earn anywhere from under $30,000 to over $150,000. The average across all sports coaches in the US is around $43,000.

As a sports coach, you're responsible for everything from teaching sport-specific rules and regulations, to skills training, to creating winning strategies for your team. This role falls under physical education and requires at least a bachelor's degree or higher.

 

Wellness Instructor

This could include yoga, pilates, nutrition, or some type of wellness program you enjoy. While a degree is not required for these positions, they tend to be fulfilling careers that people enjoy. There are plenty of opportunities to work independently or own your own facility.

Believe it or not, yoga instructors make a wide range of salaries. On the lower end, they make around $30,000 a year but they have prospects for making over $100,000, especially when working independently. In addition to earning hours to become a yoga instructor, clients may want to see some sort of health science education or experience.

Of course, you already understand physiology, so adding an exercise science program to your resume will meet those expectations.

There are also a lot of holistic and other wellness careers or certifications you can use on the side. Many people with exercise science degrees become massage therapists or work with the human body in some other way.

 

Dietitian

This will require additional training after you earn your bachelor's degree. But it is a popular field for people with exercise science degrees. Why is that? Well, people with a passion for fitness tend to incorporate nutrition into their lifestyles. The two go hand in hand.

A registered dietician with an exercise science degree has an advantage over a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. However, the additional training and studying will be important, as you will need to complete a dietitian internship and pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration exam in order to become certified.

If you're looking into personal training or a related career path, this additional certification will undoubtedly increase your salary prospects. However, if you're looking to go directly into the dietitian field, you should expect a salary of around $61,000 to $75,000, with some specialists exceeding $200,000.

 

Going Further With Education

People with an associate's, bachelor's, or even master's degree in exercise science don't necessarily have to stop learning. Many people with these degrees continue on to work in related fields.

Some will become physician's assistants or even doctors. Physical therapy is another common career path with promising salaries. You could also become an exercise physiologist, chiropractor, or a wide variety of other careers. However, you should stick with work that is the most fulfilling and exciting to you!

 

Make Those Brain Gains!

Now that you know some of the most promising career paths for those with exercise science degrees, you can look into these career paths more in-depth and see what's most appealing to you! Remember, the only things that matter are that you're happy and healthy. So make sure your career aligns with those goals! If you're interested in pursuing an exercise science degree at any level, check out our programs and get started!

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Alex Hoffmann

Dr. Alex Hoffmann is the President of the College of Exercise Science. He earned a doctorate in Sports Management from the United States Sports Academy, a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton, and a bachelor's degree in exercise science from Central College. Prior to his career in academia, Dr. Hoffmann worked as Master Fitness Trainer course instructor for the United States Army, and as a strength and conditioning coach, personal trainer, and nutritionist.

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