Kinesiology is the study of the movement and muscle function of the human body. Kinesiologists apply biomechanics, psychology, and other sciences to identify how your body responds to movement. They also conduct extensive research on how to heal and prevent injuries, as well as improve body performance and movement.
To work as a kinesiologist, you must study the science behind human anatomy. Below is a detailed description of the education options and career outlook for a kinesiologist. We have also compiled a list of the best jobs for kinesiology majors. Keep reading to get more insight on this unique career path.
What Is a Kinesiology Major?
A kinesiology major is a college degree where you study the mechanics of human movement. The degree delves into physical activities and how these activities impact your health and wellbeing. You will learn crucial kinesiology objectives, such as relaxation, exercise training, sensory and respiratory re-education, and increasing muscle strength and coordination.
How to Become a Kinesiologist: Kinesiology Education Options
To become a kinesiologist, you must undergo intense training to understand how the human body functions. Generally, kinesiology students can pursue different learning paths like bootcamps, community colleges, or universities.
If you enjoy fitness and exploring human anatomy, a career in kinesiology is an excellent fit. Here are the education options that will prepare you for a fun career in kinesiology.
Kinesiology Associate Degree
An Associate Degree in Kinesiology takes about two years to complete at a community college or university. It is an excellent degree option for high school graduates and anyone seeking entry-level kinesiology jobs. The coursework explores introductory-level topics in anatomy, physiology, psychology, and exercise science.
Upon graduation, you can pursue entry-level career opportunities as a fitness instructor, massage therapist, or fitness consultant. However, an associate degree may limit you from pursuing specific careers, which require additional training. Associate degree programs can also act as a stepping stone to completing a bachelor’s degree at a university.
Best Associate Degree Programs in Kinesiology
- Physical Education, Fitness, and Sport Studies Program at the College of DuPage
- Physical Education Program, Associate in Exercise Science at Highland Community College
- Kinesiology Associate in Arts at the College of San Mateo.
- Exercise Science and Kinesiology Associate of Science at Bronx Community College
- Associate Degree in Kinesiology at Glendale Community College
Kinesiology Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree is the standard education requirement for most kinesiology jobs. This degree program, which typically takes four years to complete, delves deeper into the mechanics of human movement. You will enhance your skill level in movement assessment, biomechanics, exercise physiology, and patient rehabilitation.
A kinesiology bachelor’s degree is a suitable option for anyone looking to become a certified kinesiologist. You can also pursue a wide variety of specialized roles, such as a physical therapist, exercise physiologist, and athletic trainer. Admission requirements include a high school diploma or equivalency and ACT/SAT scores, and academic proficiency in science and math.
Best Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Kinesiology
- Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine and Exercise Physiology at Rice University
- Bachelor’s of Arts in Exercise and Sports Science at the University of North Carolina
- Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology – Exercise Science at the University of Rhode Island
- Bachelor’s Degree in Movement Science at the University of Michigan
- Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology at the University of Miami.
Kinesiology Master’s Degree
Kinesiology students pursue graduate degrees to improve their skillset and resume. A master’s degree gives you access to advanced career paths such as athletic training, strength training, and sports management. The coursework focuses on sports psychology, biomechanics, motor control, and human anatomy and physiology.
Students take two to three years to complete a master’s degree program based on full-time or part-time learning. To qualify, you must have a bachelor’s degree, statement of purpose, recommendation letters, and a 3.0 minimum GPA. Although a master’s degree is a valuable achievement, graduates can still pursue postgraduate degrees in kinesiology.
Best Master’s Degree Program in Kinesiology
- Master Science in Athletic Training at the University of Michigan
- Master of Science in Biokinesiology at the University of Southern California
- Master of Science in Health and Exercise Science at Wake Forest University
- Master of Science in Biophysical Kinesiology at Oregon State University
- Master of Science in Athletic Training at the University of Virginia
Kinesiology Doctoral Degree
A doctoral degree in kinesiology is the highest achievable level of formal education. Similar to a master’s degree, this degree program features specialized courses. You will spend four years doing in-depth research and practical work in biomechanical, exercise physiology, and related topics.
Furthermore, because doctoral degrees require research-based dissertations, you can opt to specialize in one area of kinesiology like sports psychology or physical therapy. The degree will take three years to complete.
Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Kinesiology
- PhD in Movement Science at the University of Michigan
- PhD in Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina
- PhD in Kinesiology Pennsylvania State University
- PhD in Human Movement Science at the University of North Carolina
- PhD in Applied Physiology at the University of Delaware
Kinesiology Career Overview: Is a Kinesiology Career Worth It?
Kinesiology Job Outlook
Kinesiologists have an impressive job outlook according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2020 to 2030 employment projections. BLS projects a 13 percent employment growth rate for exercise physiologists, faster than most careers. The industry is growing thanks to the rising awareness of the benefits of physical health and wellness.
However, keep in mind that the projections will vary, depending on your career choice. Some jobs may have higher projections, while others may not be as accommodating. Ultimately, kinesiologists have a high chance of securing lucrative jobs in the industry.
Kinesiology salaries differ, depending on your degree levels, expertise, and career path. According to Payscale, the average kinesiologist salary is $50,452. Entry-level kinesiologists make approximately $47,500 per year and those late in their careers can receive up to $95,000 per year. Late careers include masters and doctoral degrees holders with years of experience in the field.
However, you can also check out specific careers to gauge the average salary bracket. For example, BLS states the median salary for exercise physiologists is $50,280, physical therapists make $91,010, and fitness trainers and instructors earn $40,510 per year. The salary range primarily depends on your career path.
Best Jobs for Kinesiology Majors: What Can You Do with a Kinesiology Degree?
There are a wide variety of job opportunities for kinesiology majors. You can work as a health coach, fitness instructor, nutritionist, or athletic trainer. However, all these jobs depend on your level of education. Here are some of the best jobs for kinesiology majors based on the degree levels, including figures from BLS and Payscale.
Best Jobs for Kinesiology Associate Degree Majors
|Top 10% Salary
|University of Pittsburgh
|Physical Therapist Assistant
|City Colleges of Chicago
|New York College of Health Professions
- Average Salary: $62,810
- Job Outlook: 23%
Respiratory therapists monitor a patient’s breathing and perform diagnostic tests to measure the patient’s lung capacity using special equipment. A respiratory therapist will look out for pulmonary diseases, test your lung capacity, and create respiratory care plans for the patients.
Physical Therapy Assistant
- Average Salary: $49,970
- Job Outlook: 32%
Physical therapist assistants research new techniques, educate patients on injury prevention and manage clients’ recovery plans. You will also hold an administrative position, overseeing physical therapist aides and organizing essential paperwork. A kinesiology degree helps you understand human movement and how to implement new techniques in physical therapy.
- Average Salary: $43,620
- Job Outlook: 32%
Massage therapists use touch to improve muscle function and relieve tension in a client’s body. They also evaluate a client’s medical history, document the patient’s progress, and guide patients in locating painful areas. A massage therapist can work on any muscle group and implement different muscle movements with a kinesiology degree.
- Average Salary: $40,510
- Job Outlook: 39%
Fitness instructors help clients maintain a healthy lifestyle through exercise. The instructors choreograph and demonstrate exercise routines and guide clients as they work out. They also monitor the client’s progress and, if necessary, give emergency first aid. Studying kinesiology helps a fitness instructor provide instruction for cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and weight loss.
- Average Salary: $39,650
- Job Outlook: 39%
Personal trainers are responsible for helping clients achieve their fitness goals. Personal trainers work with individual clients or small groups. The trainers also prepare a personalized exercise program and diet plans with the help of a nutritionist. Studying kinesiology will ensure you’re well-versed in both personal training and nutrition science.
Best Jobs for Kinesiology Bachelor’s Degree Majors
|Top 10% Salary
|University of Florida
|Community Health Workers
|John Hopkins University
- Average Salary: $63,090
- Job Outlook: 11%
Nutritionists are an integral part of the healthcare industry, working with medical professionals, sports teams, and individuals. Some of their everyday activities include assessing clients’ nutritional needs, developing meal plans, conducting research, and creating educational materials. A kinesiology degree will help you align the body’s movement to dietary needs.
- Average Salary: $47,710
- Job Outlook: 10%
Recreational therapists work on the physical, emotional, and social well-being of a patient. They might help patients manage cancer, overcome depression, or recover from physical injuries. Generally, a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology focusing on therapeutic recreation can help you learn to drive a patient’s well-being and understand the science behind it.
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- Average Salary: $50,280
- Job Outlook: 13%
Exercise physiologists help patients with chronic illness through the recovery process. They design fitness programs, perform fitness tests, analyze medical history, and assess patient progress. Physiologists also work with physicians to prescribe exercise regimens for ailing and injured patients. A Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Physiology or Exercise Science is excellent for this profession.
- Average Salary: $49,860
- Job Outlook: 23%
Athletic trainers work with athletes to treat, diagnose, and prevent injuries and administer emergency first-aid. They work with professional sports teams, athletes, soldiers, and children to administer the treatment prescribed by a physician. Trainers also work with the athletic director or managers to prepare exercise activities and other administrative roles.
Community Health Workers
- Average Salary: $48,140
- Job Outlook: 17%
Community health workers act as an intermediary between the community and healthcare facilities. They discuss health concerns with the community, educate them on the benefits of different healthcare services, and collect data. A kinesiology program allowing you to major in public health will help you thrive as a healthcare consultant.
Best Jobs for Kinesiology Master’s Degree Majors
|Top 10% Salary
|University of Michigan
|Medical University of South Carolina
|University of North Carolina
- Average Salary: $115,390
- Job Outlook: 31%
Physician assistants work with physicians and surgeons to examine, diagnose, and treat injuries or diseases. They conduct physical tests and interpret results for the client, assist during surgery, and write prescriptions. A Master’s Degree in Movement Science, Kinesiology, or Health Sciences covers the academic requirements for this role.
- Average Salary: $82,180
- Job Outlook: 8%
Sports psychologists focus on the psychological and emotional well-being of athletes. They provide consultation and regular therapy to ensure the athletes perform well. Merging psychology and kinesiology helps you understand how psychological factors can affect performance and how sports activities can enhance your mood.
- Average Salary: $80,480
- Job Outlook: 29%
Speech therapists work with adults and children who have communication problems. Pursuing a kinesiology degree helps you understand neuroscience, physiology, and skeletal anatomy. You will also develop the interpersonal skills to work with a broad range of patients.
- Average Salary: $86,280
- Job Outlook: 17%
Occupational therapists treat injuries, illnesses, and people with permanent disabilities. The therapists will teach patients how to use adaptive equipment like leg braces in their everyday lives. They ensure the patient’s environment accommodates their disability or health condition.
- Average Salary: $61,295
- Job Outlook: 23%*
Athletic directors are in charge of the administrative duties of the team. You will hire coaches and other staff members, procure equipment, promote team events, and oversee the daily management of the group. A graduate degree in sports management will help you understand the ins and outs of managing athletes.
*Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on Athletic Trainers
Best Jobs for Kinesiology Doctoral Degree Majors
|Top 10% Salary
|University of California, San Francisco
|University of Michigan
|Kinesiology Research Scientist
|University of Delaware
- Average Salary: $208,000
- Job Outlook: 3%
Orthopedic surgeons specialize in bone injuries, ligaments, tendons, joints, and other parts of the musculoskeletal system. Doctoral degree levels are essential for this role because you must be well-versed in skeletal anatomy. Pursuing a professional degree in sports medicine, biology, or kinesiology is excellent for this career.
- Average Salary: $80,560
- Job Outlook: 12%
With a Doctoral Degree in Kinesiology, you can become a university lecturer. Pick a specialty like orthopedics, sports management, fitness, or sports medicine and enhance your skills. You will need to get certifications and a teaching license.
Kinesiology Research Scientist
- Average Salary: $102,942
- Job Outlook: 22%
Research scientists explore different areas of kinesiology to help professionals understand how various factors affect human movement. Research scientists help improve the quality of life, body performance, and psychological responses of patients. Kinesiology research scientists also work with software developers to create software for different industries.
- Average Salary: $70,720
- Job Outlook: 11%
Chiropractors specialize in the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, muscles, tendons, and bones. These specialized therapists assess a patient’s medical history to conduct tests and provide physical therapy. They also implement spinal adjustments, massage therapy, and rehabilitative exercises to release physical pain and tension.
- Average Salary: $91,010
- Job Outlook: 21%
Physical therapists deal with patients that require pain management in different parts of their body. In addition, the therapists help patients improve movement and handle diseases like cerebral palsy, arthritis, fractures, and amputations. They also play a role in rehabilitation education and sensitization.
Three Final Tips to Get a Job in Kinesiology
- Get state licensing: A state license gives you the freedom to practice kinesiology in a specific state. Find out certification requirements from the Professional Licensing Board for Kinesiology.
- Get industry experience: The best way to get ahead in kinesiology is through networking and gaining industry experience. Therefore, find entry-level jobs in your area of specialization and do extensive research in the field to gain experience.
- Earn certifications: Getting certified is the easiest way to solidify your position as a kinesiology professional. From sports science certifications to physiology certifications, pursue several certifications that are readily available online to strengthen your resume.
Kinesiology is a fulfilling career path that encourages an active lifestyle and allows individuals to feel healthy in their bodies. Even better, it offers a wide variety of career paths for students interested in exercise science, nutrition, or physical therapy. So take time to learn the mechanics of body movement and carve a successful career path in kinesiology.
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