Career Info for a Degree in Kinesiology or Exercise Science

Jan 09, 2020

Exercise scientists and kinesiologists apply knowledge about physiology in order to help their clients improve physical fitness. This article will examine three careers that are common choices among graduates with this degree: fitness trainer, coach, and sports instructor. The entry level degree for careers in this field vary, but most require a bachelor's degree.

Essential Information

Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree or certification programs are great for people who enjoy an active lifestyle and want to help others learn better exercise and training habits. A rewarding program, it teaches body mechanics and ways to manage exercise programs. With a degree or certification in Kinesiology or Exercise Science, you might work in strength training, coaching or sports instruction.

Career Titles Fitness Trainer Coach Sports Instructor
Education Requirements Associate's or bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth* (2018-2028) 13% 11% 11%
Median Salary* (2018) $39,820
(Fitness trainers and aerobic instructors)
(Coaches and scouts)
(Coaches and scouts)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is a Degree or Certification in Kinesiology or Exercise Science?

Are you an exercise nut? Do you own fifteen sets of weights and run three miles a day, rain or shine? If so, you can stoke your passion for fitness with an education in Kinesiology and Exercise Science. Exercise scientists may work under a physician's supervision to help patients recover from or manage chronic disease, spinal injuries and the effects of aging. A Kinesiology or Exercise Science degree program combines basic science coursework with additional courses in exercise science to teach students how fitness can affect neurological, cardiovascular and other systems. If you're interested in working as a strength trainer, coach or sports instructor, a program in Kinesiology or Exercise Science is a perfect match for you.

Fitness Trainer

Fitness trainers work with and advise athletes and others on how to gain muscle strength and stamina while preventing injury. Those who work for sports teams or individual athletes might be involved in training to help ensure athletes maintain excellent form, technique and peak physical condition. The job outlook is good for fitness trainers, and employment is expected to increase as a higher value is placed upon physical fitness in society, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS predicts that fitness trainers will see a 13% growth in employment from 2018-2028. Median annual salaries for this occupation were $39,820 as of May 2018, according to the BLS.


Coaches lead teams from Little League to the big leagues, training and advising athletes, developing strategy, managing rosters and maintaining and managing equipment. They assess the strengths and potential weaknesses of opposing teams before game play, modifying or changing strategies to match individual games, weather conditions and competitive situations. In between games and in the off-season, coaches work to train and condition athletes, helping them to master skills, teamwork and techniques in preparation for the next game or season. This occupation will expand at an average rate, according to the BLS, reflecting continued American interest in competitive team sports. Coaches and scouts are expected to see a 11% increase in employment from 2018-2028, according to the BLS, which is faster than average for all occupations. As of May 2018, the median annual salary for coaches and scouts was $33,780 according to the BLS.

Sports Instructor

Sports instructors can be thought of as coaches for non-team sports. They lead, advise and teach athletes, primarily in individual sports, such as bowling, tennis, badminton, skiing and surfing. Sports instructors tailor their lessons to each student or trainee, using what they know of kinesiology, sports training and related disciplines to determine the most appropriate training exercises, drills and lessons to maximize student progress. Some sports instructors work with students one-on-one, while others train in groups. Most sports instructors are experts in one or two sports. The BLS expects this occupation, like other sports-related professions, to expand faster than other occupations in the coming decade. The BLS groups sports instructors with coaches and scouts, so employment for sports instructors is also expected to grow by 11% from 2018-2028. Also, according to the BLS, coaches and scouts employed in 'other schools and instruction' earned a mean annual salary of $35,820 as of May 2018.

A degree in kinesiology or exercise science can prepare students for a career in either allied health or in the recreation industry. This degree is suitable for students who are both scientifically inclined and able to motivate clients to achieve their goals. A bachelor's degree is suitable for most positions.

Next: View Schools
Created with Sketch. Link to this page

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?