Kinesiologist: Job Outlook for the Kinesiology Field

Sep 15, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to secure a position within the kinesiologist career field. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certifications to find out if this is the career for you.

There are many career options related to kinesiology, such as physical therapist, coach and fitness worker. Training requirements vary for each position, as do job outlook projections and salaries.

Essential Information

A kinesiologist studies how the human body moves during work and leisure activities. Multiple career fields use kinesiology, such as physical therapists who work in the rehabilitation industry. Coaches also require an understanding of kinesiology so that they can guide athletes through specialized body movements used in sports. Fitness workers apply kinesiological studies to their job as they create exercise programs and offer advice on body maintenance.

Physical Therapists Coaches Fitness Workers
Required Education Doctoral degree Bachelor's degree High school diploma or equivalent
Other Requirements State licensing for physical therapists Prior sports experience Specialized fitness training; certification preferred
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 22% 11% 13%
Median Salary (2018)* $87,930 $33,780 $39,820

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Outlook for Physical Therapists

Information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that physical therapists help people of all ages to improve or regain physical mobility ( Therapists use kinesiology to assess each patient and determine what type of therapy is needed, such as muscle strengthening and pain management treatments. From 2018 to 2028, the BLS predicted that open positions for physical therapists were expected to increase by 22%, much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS attributed this growth to an increasing population of elderly citizens in need of physical rehabilitation and advances in medical technology that allow more conditions to be treated with physical therapy.

Requirements for Physical Therapists

Physical therapists must complete graduate school physical therapy programs in order to be eligible for mandatory state licensing. Most physical therapy programs include coursework, such as pathokinesiology, rehabilitation therapy and therapeutic measurements. Eligibility requirements for licensure differ by state; however, most states require applicants to pass a recognized licensing exam, such as the National Physical Therapy Examination. Some states require applicants to take additional tests and many states demand that physical therapists participate yearly in continuing education programs

Job Outlook for Coaches

Athletic coaches apply their understanding of kinesiology to help athletes improve physical stamina and enhance the bodily range of motion during sports activities. Coaches also rely on kinesiology to help athletes prevent injuring. According to the BLS, coaching and athletic scouting positions as a group were anticipated to grow by 11% (much faster than the average for all occupations) between 2018 and 2028 due to a steadily increasing population and the growing popularity of sporting event participation.

Requirements for Coaches

The BLS reports that coaches working for educational institutions, such as high schools or colleges, generally are required to hold a bachelor's degree. Individuals may choose to major directly in kinesiology, which includes coursework in biomechanics, exercise physiology, anatomy physiology and therapeutic treatments. Many kinesiology programs offer concentration options related to coaching, including sports leadership or athletic training. Licensing and certification requirements vary by state and by sport, although many coaches must be certified in basic safety and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Job Outlook for Fitness Workers

Fitness workers use kinesiology to create workout regimens for clients. An advanced understanding of body movements allows fitness workers to help clients focus on strengthening and toning individual muscles or muscle groupings. With more health problems resulting from obesity, the BLS predicted that more fitness workers would be required to meet the demand for fitness and nutrition training. In fact, between 2018 and 2028, the BLS noted that open positions for fitness trainers and instructors were expected to grow by 13%, which is much faster than average compared to all job sectors.

Requirements for Fitness Workers

Education requirements for fitness workers vary by employer, but the majority of employers require fitness workers to hold a certificate. There are several certificate programs that focus on different careers within the fitness industry. Fitness trainer certificate programs, for example, include courses in fitness technology, exercise physiology, fitness assessment and nutrition. According to the BLS, many employers are starting to prefer fitness workers who possess a bachelor's degree in fields like nutrition, exercise science or kinesiology.

In the field of kinesiology-related occupations, physical therapist offers the best prospects for job growth, but the job outlook is also solid for coaches and fitness workers. Physical therapists need a doctoral degree; coaches usually hold bachelor's degrees, and fitness workers can often find employment with a high school diploma.

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