Personal health and wellness have become growing points of interest for individuals across the globe. According to McKinsey & Company, the global wellness market is estimated at more than 1.5 trillion dollars, with projected growth of up to 10% per year. As people continue to cultivate healthier daily practices, there is an increased need for expertise in areas like fitness, nutrition and homeopathic medicine. In addition, experts in the health and fitness fields are in high demand. Exercise physiologists, for example, are projected to see a 13% increase in job listings from 2020 to 2030 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Individuals who enter the exercise science field have a strong passion to help their clients and communities improve their health and wellbeing. Those who hold a master’s in exercise science are prepared for a diverse array of job opportunities and can specialize in their area of interest. Some of the settings that exercise science graduates may work in include the following:

  • Acute and chronic health centers
  • Fitness centers
  • Hospitals
  • Professional sports teams and leagues
  • Rehabilitation centers

Since exercise science is such a broad field, individuals with a master’s degree are able to focus on the areas that most interest them. Exercise science careers run the gamut from athletic trainer to exercise physiologist to wellness consultant. According to PayScale, the average salary for a master’s in exercise science is $51,000. Below are five popular exercise science career paths, as well as salary information.

Career Average salary
Athletic Trainer $44,556
Exercise Physiologist $55,336
Fitness/Wellness Manager $44,428
Recreational Therapist $59,577
Personal Trainer $64,100

Sources: PayScale and, 2022

Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers diagnose, treat and prevent athletic injuries. They also respond when an athlete is hurt on the field. Athletic trainers work in a variety of settings including the following:

  • Primary and secondary schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Hospitals
  • Physicians offices
  • Professional sports teams

Some of the skills an athletic trainer should possess include rehabilitation, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), injury prevention and patient care.

Exercise Physiologist

Exercise physiologists create and direct exercise programs for individuals who are recovering from an illness or injury. Exercise physiologists tend to work in hospitals, recreation centers and other facilities.

According to Burning Glass, in order to be successful in the career, exercise physiologists should develop skills in the following areas:

  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
  • Physiology
  • Patient care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Patient monitoring

Fitness/Wellness Manager

A fitness/wellness manager organizes programs around nutrition, exercise and stress management. A wellness manager is also involved in the community, promoting access to healthy foods, exercise opportunities and health screenings.

Skills needed to succeed in this career include:

  • Fitness
  • Scheduling
  • Budgeting
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  • Staff management

Recreational Therapist

A recreational therapist creates recreation-based treatment programs and coordinates and directs recreational activities for individuals with disabilities, illness or injuries. In addition, a recreational therapist might help individuals learn to use resources like public transportation. Recreational therapists work in a variety of settings including healthcare facilities, nursing homes and clinics.

In addition to patience, recreational therapists should possess the following skills to be successful:

  • Treatment planning
  • Recreational therapy
  • Mental health
  • Behavioral health
  • Rehabilitation

Personal Trainer

A personal trainer does more than count your reps. They assess their clients’ health and fitness goals, and develop customized fitness and exercise programs to help them achieve their goals. Personal trainers may also lead group classes at a fitness studio, bootcamp, aerobics studio or a pool.

Skills that garner a premium salary for this profession include the following:

  • Group fitness
  • Yoga
  • Pilates

Source: Labor Insight from Burning Glass.

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