What Are My Career Options in Kinesiology and Exercise Science?

Kinesiology and exercise science careers can range from a variety of job opportunities. Depending on your passion and talents, you could work as a dancer, choreographer, physical therapist, professional athlete or referee. Read on to learn more about these career options. Schools offering Fitness & Nutrition degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Physical Therapist

As a physical therapist, you could work for doctors, in hospitals, in rehab facilities or even in the sports world. Working to help relieve pain or strengthen a patient or client, you would help devise treatment plans for your patients and clients, documenting injuries, progress and overall treatment. Doctors may refer you specifically, so working in conjunction with them and a patient, you'd implement exercise techniques that focus on the well-being and improvement of your client.

Education Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to become a physical therapist you need a graduate degree, generally a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, and you must be licensed in the state in which you work (www.bls.gov). Doctoral programs involve intense courses, and in most programs, you can select your focused discipline. If you focus on exercise physiology, for example, you can expect to take such courses that include physiology, biochemistry, neuromuscular studies and methods, theories and practices. A residency is usually included.

Career Outlook and Salary

The BLS noted that this job field could grow in employment by 36% between 2012 and 2022, due largely to an aging population who may experience health conditions that require the use of physical therapy. As a result, physical therapists should have good job prospects in healthcare settings were the elderly receive treatment.

According to a May 2012 BLS report, the mean annual wage for physical therapists was $81,110. Wages for most ranged between $55,620 and $112,020. Most physical therapists worked for the offices of other health practitioners, general hospitals, home healthcare services and skilled nursing facilities. These employment settings offered respective average wages of $79,180, $80,060, $90,440 and $85,810.

Dancer or Choreographer

While you could study dance and choreography in college, earning a degree in kinesiology or exercise science could also lead to a career as a dancer or choreographer. As a dancer, you could study and train in a variety of dance types, auditioning for dance roles and troupes. You could teach dance classes and work with choreographers in programs and recitals. Choreographers lead and direct recitals and programs, instructing dancers on moves and techniques. You would also audition dancers, create actual dance programs and movements, and work as a dancer yourself to keep up on the latest dance trends and stay abreast of your technical capabilities and fitness level.

Education Requirements

The BLS notes that there are postsecondary education programs available for dancers and choreographers and that most choreographers have experience as dancers. These professionals usually receive dance training from a young age.

Job Outlook and Salary

The BLS indicated that the career field for dancers could increase by 6% between 2012 and 2022, while choreographer employment could increase by 24%. Competition for employment in both fields is keen, and if you are a dancer with ties to a specific dance company, you may have better job prospects. The BLS also notes that Chicago and New York may have more job opportunities.

In May 2012, the mean hourly wage for dancers was $19.02; the BLS did not report a mean annual wage for this career. The mean hourly wage for choreographers was $21.60, and the mean yearly wage was $44,930. While choreographers working for performing arts companies made $25.40 an hour on average, dancers working for these companies earned an hourly mean wage of $20.48. Other schools and instruction paid dancers $13.68 an hour and choreographers $21.00 an hour.

Professional Athlete or a Sports Referee

A third job category to explore with a kinesiology or exercise degree involves the professional sports world. Becoming an athlete entails having talent, athletic ability and dedication. Practicing, keeping in shape and working with other athletes and coaches are keys to success. You must be able to assess your skills, obey the rules of the sport and identify ways you could improve your ability.

Sports officials or referees are responsible for ensuring that professional sports games are played according to their rules, that athletes perform according to moral code and that disputes on calls and plays are handling accordingly.

Job Outlook and Salary

Whether it's a team sport or an individual sport, competition between athletes can be intense, and you must avoid injuries, which could decrease your chances of being successful in this field. The BLS expects slower-than-average employment growth of 7% for athletes and sports competitors over the 2012-2022 decade. In May 2012, these professionals earned a mean wage of $75,760 a year, reported the BLS.

Referees, or other sports officials, on the other hand, could provide more stable work prospects, according to the BLS, especially if you are interested in working for colleges or even part time. Job growth for umpires, referees and other sports officials is expected to be 8% over the 2012-2022 decade. This group of professionals earned $32,600 a year on average in May 2012.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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