Exercise science is a relatively new field of study that has drawn in many eager students who share a passion for exercise, fitness, and health. The degree itself debuted back in 2015; however, the concept isn’t new. This degree was previously labeled as exercise physiology, and students would use the skills learned to help change the health and poor lifestyle habits of individuals. If you decide to pursue a degree in exercise science, there are a large number of different career paths you can pursue upon graduation. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for exercise science majors is projected to grow over 13% between 2020 and 2030. This is significantly higher than the average rate of increase.
An Exercise physiologist works to develop exercise and fitness programs to help patients recover from injury or sickness. They analyze their patients’ fitness to better understand how they can help to improve and maintain their health. Typically, exercise physiologists work with patients who have underlying issues such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or other chronic conditions, and they help these patients to regain their health.
On a typical day for an exercise physiologist, they will work to use stress tests and other evaluation tools to evaluate a patient’s metabolism and cardiovascular function. After reviewing the results, you will work to design a fitness plan for the patient that helps to build up their muscle strength and endurance. According to Explore Health Careers, an exercise physiologist is trained to:
- Administer exercise stress tests for both healthy and unhealthy patients.
- Evaluate a patient’s health and pay close attention to cardiovascular function and metabolism.
- Develop customized exercise routines to increase the patient’s physical strength, fitness, endurance, and flexibility.
- Design customized exercise programs to meet the patient’s healthcare needs as well as their athletic performance goals.
Physical therapy is another career path you can pursue after receiving your exercise science degree. As a physical therapist, you work with injured or sick patients to help manage their pain and improve their body movement. According to WebMD, physical therapists may help patients to manage illnesses or injuries received to their neurological system, musculoskeletal system, cardiopulmonary system, or integumentary system. In most cases, they receive referrals from other healthcare professionals such as a doctor. They do a general physical examination of the patient, then develop a treatment plan revolved around stretching, exercising, and other hands-on techniques.
Ultimately, physical therapists work to help improve movement and functionality to specific parts of the body. If you are interested in pursuing a career in physical therapy, consider a school that offers hands-on experience. For example, Berry College one of the best physical therapy schools in Georgia, offers their exercise science students the opportunity to complete a for-credit internship at occupational therapy clinics. These hands-on learning opportunities help students to gain better experience that will help to set them up for success in their future roles!
If you have a passion for nutrition, considering a career as a sports nutritionist may be a great fit for you. As a sports nutritionist, you work with athletes to advise them on a nutritional regime. Ultimately, it must help to optimize their performance as well as their overall nutritional health. If you plan to work in sports nutrition, you may learn about the types of foods and fluids athletes should consume, as well as the average quantities needed. Ultimately, your goal as a sports nutritionist is to develop an eating regimen that works to properly balance their proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and other substances they intake on a day-to-day basis.
As an athletic director, you work as an administrator to oversee a high school, college, or private institution’s athletic program. In this role, you would be responsible for budgeting, scheduling, and promoting sporting events. As an athletic director, you typically will serve as athletic manager and work to organize transportation, supervise coaches, and ensure athletes are keeping up with their schooling and coursework. There are other administrative duties typically carried out by an athletic director such as fundraising for events, allocating money, and ordering new equipment.
A chiropractor is a healthcare worker that cares for a patient’s neuromusculoskeletal system. This typically involves their muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments, and nerves. They work to manage neck and back pain typically through spinal adjustments that help to maintain proper alignment for the body. Typically, a chiropractor will perform a quick examination of the patient to determine what, if anything, is currently out of place in their spine’s position. Depending on the severity, they work with the patient to develop a treatment plan as well as monitor their progress. As a chiropractor, they rely on the body’s ability to heal itself. According to WebMD, they use spinal manipulation to apply force to a joint in the spine, thus moving the joint to provide better alignment.
Last, but not least, you can use your exercise science degree to work as a coach. As a coach, you will use the knowledge received throughout your education to instruct people on the proper skills of a sport. This can range anywhere from amateur and high school coaching to coaching a professional team or athlete. As a coach, your goal is to improve the team or athlete’s performance and skillset through conditioning sessions and practice drills. Coaches can also be involved in the scouting and recruitment process where you seek out other qualified athletes to join a team.
Overall, there are so many different career paths you can pursue with an exercise science degree. Depending on the area of study that most interests you, there is a career out there for just about anyone. If you are interested in pursuing an exercise science degree, the first step is to find the right college for you. Find a college that best suits you and the way that you learn best! The rest will fall into place throughout your schooling.