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Salary and Career Info for Kinesiology Majors

Kinesiology is generally a program that combines classroom study with internships and clinical training. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

Kinesiology is the study of human body movement, and those with a major in kinesiology are ideal candidates for a career as an athletic trainer, physical therapist or recreational therapist. These are highly trained professionals who help prevent and treat the injuries of athletes, work with patients with chronic injuries or illnesses that affect their range of movement, or help individuals maintain or regain physical wellness after injury or illness.

Essential Information

Kinesiology is the study of human body movement. The field of kinesiology includes several disciplines, such as exercise science, physical education and sports management. Students can often choose one of these as an area of concentration. Kinesiology majors may take courses in anatomy, nutrition and health promotion and often learn through internships.

Career Athletic Trainer Physical Therapist Recreational Therapist
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Doctor of Physical Therapy Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements License or certification in most states License in all states Professional certification recommended
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 21% 34% 12%
Median Salary (2015)* $44,670 $84,020 $45,890

Career Options

Graduates with kinesiology degrees have a variety of career options available to them. Some jobs can be entered into with a bachelor's degree, while others require master's or doctoral degree studies. Below are descriptions of three jobs for individuals who majored in kinesiology.

Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers help to prevent and treat injuries suffered by professional and amateur athletes.

Average Salary and Wages

Because people can choose among a plethora of qualified athletic trainers, the salary of an athletic trainer is highly dependent on experience and location. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for an athletic trainer in 2015 was $44,670.

Career Information

In 2015, athletic trainers held about 23,450 jobs in the United States. The BLS predicted a faster-than-average growth rate for athletic trainer jobs for the 2014-2024 decade of 21%. The job outlook was expected to be especially good for athletic trainers within the healthcare industry, while competition was expected to be much stronger for collegiate and professional sports team positions.

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists are rehabilitative professionals; they work with patients who have experienced traumatic or chronic injuries or illnesses to help them regain their range of movement.

Average Salary and Wages

Much like athletic trainers, the pay rate for a physical therapist is dependent on geographical location and experience. The median annual wage for physical therapists was $84,020 in 2015, according to the BLS.

Career Information

The future was expected to be bright for physical therapists, with a BLS-predicted job growth rate of 34% for 2014-2024. While job opportunities are anticipated to be good across all settings, exceptional employment outlooks were predicted in acute hospital, skilled nursing and orthopedic settings, particularly where elderly patients were the primary concern.

Recreational Therapist

Recreational therapists treat patients using art, play, dance and music therapy, among other modalities, to help them maintain or recover their physical and social wellness after injuries or illnesses.

Average Salary and Wages

On average, recreational therapists working for hospitals and government agencies earned more than therapists working in nursing or community care facilities. According to the BLS, the median annual salary of a recreational therapist was $45,890 in 2015.

Career Information

Recreational therapists held approximately 17,880 jobs in 2015, about a fifth of which were in nursing care facilities. Other potential areas of employment are hospitals, state agencies and residential care facilities. The job outlook was expected to be favorable from 2014-2024, with a 12% increase in overall employment. Those working in geriatric therapy are expected to have the greatest prospects in the coming years, due to the aging baby boomer population.

Kinesiology majors may opt to pursue a career as a recreational therapist, physical therapist or athletic trainer. The job growth in these fields ranges from 12% projected for recreational therapists from 2014-2024, to 21% for athletic trainers and 34% for physical therapists over the same time period. The BLS indicates these growth rates are much faster than average when compared to all occupations, which means kinesiology majors can anticipate good job prospects in their field.

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