14 Top Careers That Require a Kinesiology Degree

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated May 27, 2022 | Published April 13, 2021

Updated May 27, 2022

Published April 13, 2021

If you have an interest in sports medicine, health and nutrition or exercise, a kinesiology degree can prepare you for relative job opportunities. Jobs in kinesiology allow professionals to help others with strength and conditioning, mobility and rehabilitation. By learning more about degrees and career options, you can develop a plan to achieve your education goals.

In this article, we define kinesiology degrees, review the types of degrees you can earn, list available career paths available and provide examples of top jobs requiring a kinesiology degree.

What is a kinesiology degree?

A kinesiology degree is a college major program where students learn about the fundamentals of human movement and a variety of other subjects that prepare students to work in fitness instruction, rehabilitation, sports medicine, research and other areas. Here are some examples of the types of courses offered in kinesiology degree programs:

  • Anatomy and physiology

  • Introduction to Kinesiology

  • The history of exercise

  • The principles of physical activity

  • Human biology

  • Physics

  • Chemistry

  • Biochemistry

  • Exercise psychology

  • Exercise physiology

  • Exercise science

  • Public health

  • Sociology

  • Statistics

  • Nutrition and dietetics

  • Strength training

  • Stamina training

  • Motor development

  • Geriatric mobility

Related: The Best Undergraduate Majors for Physical Therapy

Types of kinesiology degrees

Colleges and universities offer Kinesiology degree programs in specialty areas at the associate, bachelor's master's and doctoral degree levels. These are examples of the types of Kinesiology degrees specializations you can earn:

  • Exercise science: Exercise science majors learn about a wide variety of topics relating to Kinesiology with a focus on sports nutrition, human anatomy and physiology and strength training and conditioning.

  • Exercise physiology: Exercise physiology programs focus on a specific area within exercise science regarding how human bodies react to different types of exercises and levels of intensity.

  • Athletic training: Athletic training specialties prepare students for careers as athletic trainers by teaching them about fundamental sciences, Kinesiology, exercise science, first aid and CPR and rehab practices.

  • Sports medicine: Sports medicine majors focus on areas like rehabilitation to teach students about how to assess, prevent and rehab athletic injuries.

  • Biomechanics: Biomechanics degree programs provide students with valuable information about how ligaments, muscles, tendons, bones and other bodily structures combine to help humans move by running, walking, kicking or throwing for example.

  • Pre-physical therapy: Pre-physical therapy majors help students prepare for further education to become physical therapists. During a pre-physical therapy degree program, students learn about human anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, exercise science and physiology and rehabilitation practices.

Related: 12 of the Highest-Paid Kinesiology Careers

14 career paths for kinesiology graduates

Review these 14 Kinesiology jobs to pursue based on the degree you earn, with salary expectations, and job duties to aid your decision-making:

Associate degree

Associate degrees are two-year degree programs typically offered by community colleges and accredited institutions. Those interested in exercise, rehabilitation and Kinesiology can find associate degree programs in areas like Kinesiology, exercise science, exercise and fitness or physical therapy assistance. These are examples of career paths you can pursue with an associate degree in Kinesiology or a related field:

1. Personal trainer

National average salary: $36,222 per year

Primary duties: Personal trainers may earn their qualifications with a high school diploma, but an associate degree can help enhance their employability. Personal trainers work for gyms, sports complexes or as self-employed individuals to help individuals develop and achieve fitness goals. This includes meeting clients to discuss their current exercise goals and developing a fitness regime to help them improve their strength training, physical stamina, muscle mass or weight loss goals.

Related: Learn About Being a Personal Trainer

2. Fitness consultant

National average salary: $41,691 per year

Primary duties: A fitness consultant helps clients develop workout routines, meal plans and lifestyle changes to promote a client's physical and mental health. They may also accompany individuals to the gym to help them work out and may teach them how to cook or prepare certain meals.

3. Fitness instructor

National average salary: $55,769 per year

Primary duties: Fitness instructors may also be able to work with a high school diploma, but an associate degree in an area like health and exercise can provide them with the knowledge they need to develop workout routines using different types of equipment or techniques. Fitness instructors can teach a variety of different classes in at-home studios or gym facilities. These include yoga, cycling, Pilates, barre, aerobics or kickboxing for example. Fitness instructors may also help their clients improve their techniques to prevent injury and maximize results.

Bachelor's degree

Bachelor's degrees consist of four-year degree programs offered by colleges and universities. These programs qualify professionals for entry-level roles and enable them to qualify for further education at the master's or doctoral degree levels. Here are examples of the types of Kinesiology jobs you can achieve with a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology or a similar degree program:

1. Exercise physiologist

National average salary: $35,823 per year

Primary duties: An exercise physiologist can work in health care facilities or as self-employed individuals. They use their understanding of how exercise affects the body to help clients reach their fitness goals. They typically work with clients recovering from injuries or clients who have chronic illnesses. Exercise physiologists design workout routines and other activities for clients to perform that help alleviate pain, build back muscle mass, enhance physical stamina and allow them to maintain an active lifestyle.

Related: Learn About Being an Exercise Physiologist

2. Athletic trainer

National average salary: $36,222 per year

Primary duties: Athletic trainers work for high schools, colleges and universities, sports and recreation complexes and sports leagues to provide onsite first aid and medical care to athletes. During games, athletic trainers respond to injuries by assessing the athlete, wrapping injured areas, applying cold compresses or cleansing wounds. They may also conduct concussion tests and notify emergency services when necessary. Before and after athletic events, athletic trainers help athletes by instructing them on how to stretch an injury and preparing cold or warm whirlpools to treat injuries.

Related: Learn About Being an Athletic Trainer

3. Strength and conditioning coach

National average salary: $36,222 per year

Primary duties: A strength and conditioning coach assists athletes in sports leagues or at high school or college level athletics. Their purpose is to help educate athletes on training methods to enhance their performance over time. They also work with athletes to teach them how to warm up and cool down from a workout to prevent potential injuries.

4. Kinesiologist

National average salary: $42,437 per year

Primary duties: Kinesiologists work for sports and recreation facilities, healthcare facilities and rehabilitation clinics to help clients with injuries or chronic conditions to improve their mobility and strength. They may work with clients who have diseases that affect the nervous system. Kinesiologists complete muscle monitoring during exercise activities and perform lymphatic massages or acupressure to help ease pain.

5. Dietitian

National average salary: $47,331 per year

Primary duties: Dietitians work with patients to help them improve their nutrition to maintain a healthy lifestyle, ease disease-related symptoms or recover from injuries or illnesses. They can also provide patients with helpful tips on the types of foods they should eat before and after working out to ensure maximum energy and muscle recovery.

Related: Learn About Being a Dietitian

Master's degree

Master's degree programs typically include two years of instruction with a bachelor's degree as a prerequisite. Master's degrees in Kinesiology specialties help individuals obtain leadership positions and specialty roles within the field. These are a few types of Kinesiology career paths you can pursue with a master's degree:

1. Athletic director

National average salary: $63,444 per year

Primary duties: Athletic directors oversee athletic programs at high schools, colleges and universities, sports leagues and sports or recreational facilities. They hire coaches, referees and athletic trainers to oversee sports teams, games and training. They also monitor budgets for sports equipment, field maintenance, uniforms and transportation.

2. Prosthetist

National average salary: $73,977 per year

Primary duties: Prosthetists specialize in designing and fitting prosthetic or orthopedic devices for patients. Examples include knee or ankle braces, artificial limbs, shoe insoles or back braces. Typically, they assess the patient's need for a device including their level of physical activity and current health conditions to determine their needs.

3. Occupational therapist

National average salary: $82,570 per year

Primary duties: Occupational therapists specialize in helping patients improve or regain basic motor functions that allow them to excel in their everyday lives. These include holding items, picking up items, brushing one's teeth, using utensils or putting on clothes. Through continuous training and different techniques, they help patients overcome mobility obstacles.

Related: Learn About Being an Occupational Therapist

Doctoral degrees

Doctoral degrees include four to six years of instruction where students advance their knowledge of a subject by conducting their own research projects and taking advanced courses. Doctoral degrees in Kinesiology specialties like physical therapy can prepare individuals for these job roles:

1. Physical therapist

National average salary: $82,469 per year

Primary duties: A physical therapist helps patients recover from injuries like broken or fractured bones, ligament or tendon tears and they also help individuals minimize pain associated with chronic illnesses. They do this by helping patients exercise, stretch and learn about at-home exercises they should complete every day.

Related: Learn About Being a Physical Therapist

2. Research scientist

National average salary: $110,693 per year

Primary duties: Research assistants specializing in kinesiology work with scientists and medical research teams to monitor patients recovering from concussions, broken bones, ligament tears and illnesses relating to the cardiopulmonary system. They record data as patients exercise and monitor their progress over time. Research scientists also write research reports for other scientists and medical personnel to use.

Doctor of medicine degree

For those considering careers in sports medicine, they need to attend medical school after the completion of a bachelor's degree program. Medical school programs take four years to complete and prepare students to apply for residencies in specialty areas like sports medicine. Here is an example of what you can do with a doctor of medicine degree:

Sports medicine physician

National average salary: $246,308 per year

Primary duties: A sports medicine physician works specifically with athletes to help diagnose and treat sports-related injuries. They may also instruct athletes on preventative stretching and other methods that protect against injuries.

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