If you’re seriously interested in a professional exercise science or Kinesiology career, it is important to understand the answer to these questions –
- Is exercise science and Kinesiology the same thing?
- What is the difference between exercise science and Kinesiology degree options?
Kinesiology refers to the field that includes the study of movement, function, & performance, plus assessing how these relevant factors may affect an individual’s overall health. On the other hand, the field of exercise science primarily focuses on the various mechanisms that may impact how individuals adapt and respond to different exercises.
Accreditation for Exercise Science and Kinesiology
Selecting the right school to earn an exercise science or Kinesiology is a life-changing decision. So what does a student do to make the right decision regarding which exercise science colleges or exercise science schools would be the right fit? Would an accredited online exercise degree allow you to reach your academic and career goals and offer the flexibility needed?
Determining the quality of a post-secondary education program is easiest by ensuring the best exercise science programs (or accredited exercise science programs online) have received regional or specialized accreditation.
The process of exercise science accreditation or Kinesiology accreditation establishes whether the programs meet the educational standards as established by the federal government’s education agencies – at the federal level or an endorsed accrediting agency at an industry level. The process of accreditation includes the review of the best exercise science schools – including academic competency, the curriculum, and faculty, to name a few items reviewed during the process of accrediting Kinesiology or exercise science schools.
The Process of Regional Accreditation
Regional accreditation is recognized as the oldest of accreditations. At a regional level, the United States accreditation is organized into six agencies, which is contingent on each agency’s location in the country.
The purpose of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) administered agencies is to assess a school/university rather than a specific school within a larger university or college or a specific academic program.
The Process of Specialized Accreditation
Specific academic degree programs, like an associate degree in exercise science and Kinesiology that have earned specialized accreditation, offer degree candidates a significant assurance as to the academic degree program’s quality – as compared to a set of pre-established criteria related to exercise science or Kinesiology.
In the accreditation realm that includes exercise science and Kinesiology, the CoAES – the Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences is the primary agency that awards accreditation to Kinesiology and exercises science colleges and universities. As such, the best schools for exercise science and/or Kinesiology will be accredited by – the Accreditation Committee for the Exercise Sciences.
The CoAES – the Committee on the Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences
The CoAES – the Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences was established in 2004 and is managed under the auspices of the largest allied health accreditation agency – known as the CAAHEP, which is short for the Comm. on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. The CoAES offers accreditation for the best exercise science schools and Kinesiology program options.
The CoAES seeks to establish industry-acceptable standards for students who wish to enroll in a degree program in health, exercise, and fitness industries, offered by the best exercise science schools or universities. The CoAES is the professional oversight body that accredits the best exercise science programs and the internal programs dedicated to exercise science, Kinesiology, and physical education, among others.
Students with an interest in pursuing a Kinesiology or exercise science career should first determine if the program or the school of interest has been awarded accreditation – providing a student the assurance they need that they have chosen one of the best schools for exercise science or Kinesiology.
Types of Bachelor’s in Exercise Science and Kinesiology Degree Options
If you are considering a major in exercise science or Kinesiology, it is important to understand the types and nuances of the available degree in Kinesiology and exercises science degree programs. The reality is it is possible to graduate with an exercise science major from an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral program.
Exercise science majors typically need a baccalaureate, master’s, or doctorate degree to work in the exercise science and allied health field. Students who choose to major in exercise science will find the degree meets the requirements for most entry level positions; however, those who wish to be involved with clinical research (or any other specialized aspect of an exercise science major) will likely need to research those colleges with exercise science majors at the graduate or doctoral level.
On-campus and online bachelor degree in Kinesiology and exercise science programs appeal to those students who are interested in actively promoting the health of others. In addition, on-campus and online degrees in Kinesiology and exercise science will also prepare students to sit for one of the certifications or national exams – available after graduation.
A wide variety of career options are possible for students who want to pursue a major in exercise science. Deciding on the career path that will meet your career goals is likely to help you decide between the available Kinesiology and exercise science majors.
Exercise Science Major -Specializations
Exercise science majors can opt to work in a variety of settings that include fitness clubs, college campuses, business programs dedicated to health, hospitals, or the military, to name a few. Most exercise science majors choose to sit for the Exercise Physiologist Certified Exam that is available by the American College of Sports Medicine.
Kinesiology – Exercise Science Major – Specializations
Kinesiology is often referenced as an interdisciplinary field with a variety of sub-specialties. More specifically, colleges with exercise science major programs study theoretical basics in biomechanics but have the option to consider these sub-specialties of Kinesiology –
- Athletic training
- Sports management
- Physical education teacher training
- Sports medicine
Certifications/Licenses in Kinesiology & Exercise Science
In the world of exercise science and Kinesiology, certifications offer many additional professional opportunities. These opportunities allow students to further specialize in a certain technique or a subset of the general population.
The National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA)
The National Strength & Condition Association offers several benefits to help advance the profession (as well as the professionals) working in the strength and conditioning industry. The NSCA offers a variety of certificate and credential options, which are detailed below.
The National Strength and Condition Association offers the Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA – CPT®), which requires applicants to –
- Have a high school diploma (or one of its equivalents),
- Be a minimum of 18 years old,
- Be certified in CPR and AED training
Professionals who hold the CPT credential are equipped to educate and motivate clients with the goal of improving their fitness as well as their overall health. Those who hold this NSCA – CPT designation are also trained to are first responders to medical emergencies.
Additionally, the National Strength & Condition Association offers the Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (NSCA – CSCS®) – a credential for those professionals who wish to excel at the application of scientific knowledge in the training of athletes for improved performance. This credential from NSCA requires applicants to hold AED/CPR certification and to hold a baccalaureate level degree earned from an accredited institution of higher learning.
Another available credential offered by the National Strength and Condition Association is the Certified Special Population Specialist (NSCA – CSPS®) credential. This certificate provides Kinesiology and exercise science professionals with the demonstrated skills to train certain subsets of the general population with regard to health needs and fitness goals.
For exercise science, professionals, or Kinesiology professionals who what to physically train first responders and emergency personnel, the National Strength & Condition Association provides the Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator certification (TSAC -F ®). Those who this credential from NSCA are skilled at strength training and conditioning programs for law enforcement and other first responder services.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
Another professional organization that offers exercise science and Kinesiology credentials and certificates is the American College of Sports Medicine.
The (ACSM – EP-C) – the Certified Exercise Physiologist
The Certified Exercise Physiologist (EP) has advanced skills in assessing and interpreting physical fitness and plus the development of exercise plans for both healthy and physically challenged individuals.
The (ACSM – GEI) – the Certified Group Exercise Instructor
The Kinesiology and exercise science certificate program is a great fit for individuals who wish for professional careers that help motivate/educate those within group environments or on a personalized level. American College of Sports Medicine credential holders seeks to create positivity using a variety of motivational and educational techniques.
The (ACSM – RCEP) – the Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist
The RCEP is offered by the Clinical Exercise Physiology Association, an affiliate of the American College of Sports Medicine. Professionals who hold this designation are members of a team of health care professionals administering programs for those individuals afflicted with specific disorders or who are physically limited. Applicants for this ACSM credential must hold a minimum of a master’s level degree in a relevant and related field of study.
The (ACSM – CIFT) – the Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer
The professionals who work as Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainers possess the required skills to work closely with those with physical limitations or other health risks. The CIFT designation has been created in partnership with the National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability. Credential holders must have a comprehensive understanding of the policies relevant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The ACSM – CEP) – the Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist
Those who hold the CEP designation from the American College of Sports Medicine seek to improve each client’s daily life. CEP holders’ ultimate goal is to increase a client’s (those challenged with metabolic, pulmonary, or cardiovascular conditions) chances of achieving independence with regard to the social and physical aspects of daily life. Applicants for this ACSM credential must hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, plus appropriate clinical or hands-on professional experience.
Kinesiology and Exercise Science Careers
In addition to properly researching the educational components that lead to the best jobs with an exercise science degree or the best jobs with a Kinesiology degree, it is important to consider these relevant questions –
- What jobs can you get with a Kinesiology and exercise science degree that will meet your salary and career objectives?
- Which careers in Kinesiology and exercise science offer the most potential for the highest salary?
- Are there careers for Kinesiology and exercise science majors that require a graduate level degree?
- Which of the many careers in exercise science and Kinesiology offer the most flexibility in terms of scheduling?
Those who hold a degree in exercise science or Kinesiology will find there are a wide variety of career options. These are discussed below –
Fitness Instructors – this exercise science and Kinesiology career path is expected to have a job growth (of 15%) that will outpace the average of all combined occupations (4%) by a margin of nearly 4 to 1.Fitness instructors may work in health clubs, gyms, or within internal business health programs.
Exercise Physiologists – these Kinesiology and exercise science professionals typically require a master’s level degree in a relevant field. Professionals create fitness and exercise plans to help their clients recover from an illness or injury.
Coaches/Scouts – coaches and scouts work with athletic teams at the high school, college, and professional levels. Many entry-level positions remain available for those with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science or Kinesiology, but most advanced positions require a graduate degree.
Recreational Therapists – exercise science and Kinesiology majors can opt to work with those clients who are challenging with disabilities created by an illness or an injury. While a baccalaureate degree will open job opportunities, most advancements in this field will require a more advanced graduate degree.
Personal Trainer – the personal trainer is the most popular of career paths for those who have earned a baccalaureate degree in exercise science or Kinesiology. Personal trainers can obtain these certifications – NASM, ACE, or Fitness Mentors.
Physical Therapist – physical therapists offer one of the most advantageous paths to great exercise science or Kinesiology salary options. Physical Therapists are mostly required to hold doctorate level degrees, although some jobs may accept a master’s level degree.
Athletic Trainer – are similar to personal trainers, only they are typically required to pass a state licensing exam. Athletic trainers work closely with college and professional athletes, which makes this an exciting exercise science and Kinesiology career path. In addition, an athletic trainer may choose to work in a hospital setting or with younger athletes at the public school level.
Physical Education Teacher – many exercise science and Kinesiology majors choose to follow a career as an educator, teaching physical education, or a related subject. Graduates interested in pursuing a career as a physical education teacher should be sure to check with the state licensing requirements for educational and teaching professionals.
In addition, those who hold a baccalaureate degree in exercise science or Kinesiology may also find a path to these careers (although some may require additional education and training) –
- Rehabilitation Specialist
- Aerobics Instructor
- Strength Coach
- Camp Director
- Sports Agent
- Kinesiology Researcher or Professor
- Recreational Supervisor
- Leisure Supervisor
- Athletic Director
- Health Care Consultant
- Sports Facility Manager
- Sports Nutritionist
- Spa Manager
- Occupational Therapist
- Wellness Coordinator
Exercise Science & Kinesiology Degree Salary
In 2019, there were more than 370,000 fitness trainers and instructors working in the United States. According to the Federal Government’s Occupation Outlook Handbook, the median yearly salary for fitness trainers & group fitness instructors during the calendar year of 2020 was $40,510, which translates to approximately $19.50 hourly.
In addition, the statisticians expect the job growth for Kinesiology and exercise science professions to be 15% for the next decade (through 2029) – a growth rate significantly faster than the average of all U.S. jobs.
To have a full understand regarding jobs with an exercise science degree salary, it is important to review the percentile data for exercise trainers or group fitness instructors –
|Percentile||Kinesiology and Exercise Science Salary||Hourly Wage|
|10%||$21,640 per annum||$10.40/hourly|
|25%||$27,840 per annum||$13.38/hourly|
|Median – 50%||$40,510 per annum||$19.48/hourly|
|75%||$57,490 per annum||$27.64/hourly|
|90%||$76,550 per annum||$36.81/hourly|
|State||Kinesiology and Exercise Science Salary|
|Connecticut||$63,140 per annum|
|Vermont||$58,580 per annum|
|Washington, DC||$57,790 per annum|
|New Jersey||$56,980 per annum|
|Washington||$55,110 per annum|
|State||Number Employed||Exercise Science & Kinesiology Degree Salary|
|California||32,390||$54,770 per annum|
|Texas||17,970||$43,200 per annum|
|New York||16,310||$53,710 per annum|
|Florida||13,920||$28,470 per annum|
|Illinois||12,120||$47,610 per annum|
|State||Exercise Science & Kinesiology Degree Jobs Salary|
|New Haven, CT||$81,080 per year|
|Charleston Area, SC||$73,190 per year|
|Modesta, CA||$68,390 per year|
|Bridgeport/Norwalk/Stamford, CT||$65,590 per year|
|Ventura – Thousand Oaks, CA||$64,590 per year|
|San Jose – Sunnyvale, CA||$ 64,210 per year|
|Burlington Vicinity, VT||$63,410 per year|
|San Francisco – Oakland, CA||$62,930 per year|
|Salinas, CA||$62,500 per year|
|Santa Rosa, CA||$50,740 per year|
|State||Exercise Science & Bachelors Degree Salary|
|Northeast South Carolina Non-Metro Area||$59,900 yearly|
|North Missouri Non-Metro Area||$53,520 yearly|
|New York Capital Region Non-Metro Area||$53,440 yearly|
|Nevada Non-Metro Area||$53,220 yearly|
|Southern Vermont Non-Metro Area||$51,690 yearly|
Professional Organizations in Exercise Science and Kinesiology
Professional organizations are designed to support industry professionals by voluntarily being the voice of advocacy for those working in the industry. For professionals who are working in the field of exercise science and Kinesiology, there are a variety of professional organizations available to help support one’s career by providing benefits that often include, in part, these options –
- Networking Events
- Employment Boards
- Continuing Education Opportunities
- Professional Resources
- Awards that lead to recognition
- Relevant Seminars
- Mentoring Opportunities
While many memberships to professional organizations will require the payment of annual dues, the benefits offered to exceed the expenses related to membership. Professionals in the fields of Kinesiology and exercise science have these professional organizations from which to select –
The ACSM is considered one of the largest organizations dedicated to the professions of exercise science & sports medicine on the globe. With more than 50,000 members located internationally, it seeks to support the integration and the advancement of scientific research within education and practical applications in the various fields that include Kinesiology, sports medicine, and exercise science.
The American Kinesiology Association – AKA
The American Kinesiology Association was founded to promote the field of Kinesiology. The AKA offers many benefits to its members that include access to events and services, plus a career center.
The American Kinesiotherapy Association – AKA
As a voice of the kinesiotherapy profession, the AKA seeks to enhance the care standards by improving education opportunities through legislative changes. This association is affiliated with the American Kinesiology Association.
The National Academy of Kinesiology – NAK
The National Academy of Kinesiology is considered an honorary organization for Kinesiology professionals with a proven record of significant contributions to the fields of physical education and kinesiology. For nearly a century, the National Academy of Kinesiology has included about 475 members, with more than 130 active members.
The American Society of Biomechanics – ASB
The American Society of Biomechanics was founded during the 1970s and includes a membership of scientists, researchers, and clinicians working to provide the most accurate information about exercise science, ergonomics, and health science, among others.
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association – NATA
Founded in the 1950s, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association has more than 34,400 members across the globe. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association is on a mission to improve the quality of care provided by professional athletic trainers.