The University Network

12 Jobs For Exercise Science Majors

Exercise science is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on issues of health, fitness, and physical activity. Bringing together coursework in health science, biology, and kinesiology, an exercise science degree provides students with a strong foundation to pursue careers and further education in the fields of medicine and therapy. Exercise science is not a professional degree, meaning that it won’t necessarily prepare you for a specific job title. However, graduates with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science can find work in fitness, athletic training, exercise physiology, and a number of other fields.

Here is a list of 12 possible jobs for exercise science majors:

Most Common Jobs for Exercise Science Majors

1. Fitness Trainer

Fitness trainers lead group fitness classes and provide private fitness training to individuals. Fitness trainers may lead a variety of exercise classes, teaching cardiovascular exercises, strength training, stretches, aerobics, and more. They often provide guidance related to injury prevention, nutrition, and general health, as well. There is not always an educational requirement to become a fitness trainer, though many employers, including gyms and exercise facilities, increasingly seek out applicants with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science or a related area of study.

Median annual wage: $39,210

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 9%

2. Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers are professionals who work with athletes of all ages and levels to prevent, diagnose, and treat muscle and bone injuries and illnesses. They are not medical doctors but rather the first stage of treatment for athletic injuries, providing first-aid and emergency care and assisting in the rehabilitation process. In order to become an athletic trainer, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in exercise science or a related field. Some employers may prefer or even require a master’s degree. Most states also require certification from the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).

Median annual wage: $46,630

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 0.7%

3. Exercise Physiologist

Exercise physiologists design fitness programs for patients recovering from chronic illnesses or injuries. They craft specialized exercises catered to the medical needs of their patients, who may suffer from a variety of diseases, such as pulmonary disease or cardiovascular disease, that restrict their ability to move or make it difficult to exercise. Most exercise physiologists have a private practice or are self-employed. Others work in hospitals, physician’s offices, or in clinics. In order to become an exercise physiologist, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree. Certification is not necessary to practice in most states in the United States. Louisiana is the only state that requires licensure.

Median annual wage: $44,756

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: N/A

Specialized/Unique Jobs for Exercise Science Majors

4. Physical Therapist

Physical therapists work with patients to recover from physical injuries or illnesses, assisting them so that they can gradually regain control over their bodies and pain. They develop recovery plans that involve stretching, strength training, exercise, soft tissue work, and physical manipulation. Becoming a physical therapist requires advanced training. You’ll need to complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program, which typically takes 3 years. Many also complete a clinical residency program, which typically takes about a year.

Median annual wage: $86,850

Common entry-level degree: Doctor of Physical Therapy degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 2%

5. Sports Medicine Physician

Sports medicine physicians are doctors who specialize in working with athletes and treating athletic injuries. Their jobs consist of diagnosing, treating, and helping to prevent injuries that commonly occur when playing sports. These are typically musculoskeletal injuries, such as knee injuries, muscle strains, ligament sprains, fractures, tendinitis, and head injuries, including concussions. Becoming any kind of physician physician requires a lot of time and rigorous work. After you get your bachelor’s degree, you will need to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), attend medical school for four years and earn a medical degree, and then complete a residency program. Many sports physicians complete their residency in family medicine (which generally take about three years), though they may also choose a residency in internal medicine, emergency medicine, or physical medicine and rehabilitation. After completing a residency, sports medicine physicians need to complete a 1-2 year fellowship in sports medicine.

Median annual wage: $208,000

Common entry-level degree: Doctor of Medicine/Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 0.4%

6. Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists treat ill, injured, and disabled patients with a variety of therapies to help them live with or recover from their conditions. Occupational therapists typically specialize in treating individuals with a particular condition and utilize therapeutic methods that are specifically catered to their patients and ailment. Typically, they also advise individuals to help them live more independently and mitigate risks in their lives. For example, occupational therapists who work with permanently disabled individuals may recommend specialized equipment like wheelchairs and assist them in performing daily tasks. To become an occupational therapist, you will need a master’s degree or doctorate in occupational therapy. Occupational therapists must also pass an exam to become registered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

Median annual wage: $83,200

Common entry-level degree: Master’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 0.4%

Non-Traditional Jobs for Exercise Science Majors

7. Recreational Therapist

Recreational therapists use games and activities to assist patients who struggle from a variety of disabilities, illnesses, injuries, or mental conditions. They engage in a variety of activities with patients, which may include sports, games, dance, or arts and crafts. They also may provide emotional support to patients, family and friends. In order to become a recreational therapist, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree. Some employers also look for candidates with official National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC).

Median annual wage: $47,680

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job:0.3%

8. Health and Wellness Product Sales Representative

Exercise science majors who have an interest in business might choose to pursue a job as a health and wellness product sales representative. In this role, you might work for a variety of companies that produce health and wellness products, such as vitamins, nutritional supplements, exercise products, or even pharmaceuticals. Typically, employers look for candidates with some level of knowledge about their product or area of business. Becoming a sales representative only requires a bachelor’s degree, though some may choose to pursue further education in marketing or business.

Median annual wage: $56,970

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job:85%

9. Sports Marketer

Sports marketers are marketers who work for sports teams, athletic wear companies, and other exercise and sports-related companies and organizations. As with all marketing professions, the job of a sports marketer primarily consists of designing and executing various kinds of promotional and advertising campaigns to elevate the public perception of their employer. Exercise science majors are particularly well-suited to promote athletic products. To find a job in sports marketing with a degree in exercise science, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree with additional coursework in marketing and business.

Median annual wage: $63,230

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 61%

Other Potential Jobs for Exercise Science Majors

10. Registered Dietitian

Registered dietitians (RDs), also called registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), are credentialed nutrition experts who work directly with patients in clinical settings, advising them on their dietary choices and overall health based on their specific health needs. RDs treat patients with chronic conditions with medical nutrition therapy (MNT), evidence-based nutrition plans specially-catered to the patient’s unique health condition. The majority of RDs work in hospitals, outpatient care centers, and private practices. Others may work in government as public policy advisors. The RD and RDN credentials are effectively the same; in practice, RDs and RDNs perform the same job. RDs typically earn bachelor’s degrees in nutrition, so undergraduate exercise science students should consider pursuing a second major or a graduate degree in nutrition. RDs also need to complete an internship accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) and pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam. Aspiring RDs interested in working specifically in sports nutrition can choose to pursue a specialty credential in sports dietetics. The Board Certification as a Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) credential is available to RDs who meet a set of eligibility requirements outlined by the CDR.

Median annual wage: $59,410

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree/Master’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 0.4%

11. Coach

Coaches teach amateur and professional athletes how to play their sports and train them to perform well. They lead practices, draft game plans, call plays, and make game management decisions. They typically also assist in the scouting and recruitment of athletes. Coaches may work at the grade school, college, semi-professional and professional levels. Most coaches are employed by schools, universities, or professional sports teams. Most coaching positions require a bachelor’s degree, though there are options available to individuals with no degree but extensive playing experience at higher levels of their sport. Coaches typically have playing experience, but it is not always necessary.

Median annual wage: $32,270

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job:1.3%

12. Strength and Conditioning Coach

Strength and conditioning coaches are fitness trainers who specialize in working with athletes rather than the average population. They work for sports teams or individual athletes creating and implementing training programs designed to improve athletic performance. They also often create nutrition programs for the athletes they train and provide guidance on injury prevention. The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) offers the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) for aspiring strength and conditioning coaches. To qualify, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in exercise science or a related field. You will also need to pass the CSCS Exam. Salaries in the field vary dramatically. While the top strength and conditioning coaches in professional and college sports make upwards of $100,000 per year, most strength and conditioning coaches make salaries in the $30,000-$40,000 range.

Median annual wage: $39,995

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: N/A

10 Famous People Who Studied Exercise Science

  1. Mark Asanovich, NFL strength & conditioning coach
  2. Tim Noakes, exercise scientist
  3. William Kraemer, exercise scientist
  4. Sophia Nimphius, exercise scientist
  5. John McFall, Paralympic athlete
  6. Mickey Marotti, NCAA strength & conditioning coach
  7. Peter Phillips, member of the British royal family
  8. Mike Gittleson, strength & conditioning coach
  9. Tim Gabbett, exercise scientist
  10. Rob Newton, exercise scientist