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Career Options for Students Studying Exercise Science

Exercise science professor and students working through exercise routine and evaluation.

Wondering how your love for fitness could turn into a career? Whether you’re considering becoming a fitness trainer, coach, or exercise physiologist you’re job prospects are expected to grow nearly twice the rate of the average occupation. The more experience and education you have, the better your earning potential. For example, according to Burning Glass Technologies, average salaries for exercise science graduates with a Bachelor’s degree are around $52,000 a year. Average salaries for students with a Master’s in this field, such as Hofstra’s Master in Sports Science, are higher and exceed $64,000. With six or more years of experience that can grow to $98,000 a year.

Here are just a few of the career options for students who love sports.

Exercise Physiologist

Exercise physiologists analyze their clients’ fitness needs in order to help improve or to maintain good health. They help clients with heart disease and other chronic conditions, like diabetes or lung disease, improve cardiovascular function, muscle composition, and flexibility.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, exercise physiologists earned a median annual  salary of $49,090. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the market for exercise physiologists will increase by 13% through 2026, which is 6% better than the projected national average for all other occupations during the same time period. Higher degrees, such as a Master’s, helps you move into the top 10% of earners with annual salaries of $75,000 or more.

Strength and Conditioning Coach

A strength and conditioning coach is a fitness and physical performance professional who uses exercise to improve the performance of competitive athletes. Strength and conditioning coaches also help athletes avoid injuries and maintain proper mechanics during competitions.

The salary of a strength and conditioning coach varies, and master’s degree recipients are preferred for most positions. With a Bachelor’s degree the average coach in the NY metro area earns more than $50,000 a year. An experienced strength coach working at a college or university regulated by the NCAA could command a yearly salary of as much as $500,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the market for strength and conditioning coaches will also increase by 13% through 2026.

An Alumna’s Story: Physical Therapist

Physical therapists are evidence-based, health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages with medical problems, or other health issues, that limit the ability to move and perform everyday activities. Physical therapists offer treatment that improves mobility and relieves pain, reduces the need for surgery and prescription drugs, and allows patients to participate in a personalized recovery plan. Physical therapists also help individuals prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness and wellness programs that encourage a more active lifestyle.

Physical therapists need a strong background in exercise physiology, resistance training, and applied physiology and a good undergraduate program can help you succeed. Having earned her BSES degree at Hofstra University, Maria Pettet is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

“I am a big advocate for Hofstra’s Exercise Science program, because of how well it has prepared me for physical therapy school,” says Pettet. “The well-rounded curriculum gave me a taste of many subjects that other undergraduate programs (don’t offer). Frequently, topics in my PT school lectures are expansions of topics I have already been exposed to at Hofstra and, therefore, make it easier to learn. I would not hesitate to recommend Hofstra’s Exercise Science program to another student interested in the health field.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists earned a median yearly salary of $86,850 during 2017. It should be noted, however, that physical therapists entering the profession are required to attain a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree and all states require physical therapists to be licensed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the market for exercise physiologists will increase by 28% through 2026, which is much faster than the projected national average of 7% for all other occupations during the same time period.

Preparing for Your Career

At Hofstra University, you can start this journey with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science (BSES) degree that will provide you with a solid grounding to succeed in the fitness industry.  “The Exercise Science Department at Hofstra is awesome!” says Pettet. “I loved being able to study in the Dome, and have the professors’ offices nearby so I could drop in and ask a quick question. The faculty challenges students to make clinical decisions and are always open to answering questions… I still keep in touch with many of the professors.”

As a BSES degree holder, you will be prepared to work as a trainer at a health club or fitness center or run a training business. If you want to take it to the next level you could pursue a Master of Science in Sport Science (MSSS). Both the BSES and MSSS programs at Hofstra University are officially recognized by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as preparatory programs for the field of strength and conditioning.

Hofstra University’s programs provide students with a comprehensive foundation in personal training concepts, in addition to skills that will allow you to work with a variety of clients. The program imparts the knowledge and skills necessary to meet the needs of your future clients by applying best practices in exercise science, business, management, communication, and psychology.

Other potential careers* in Exercise Science and Sport Science that may include additional education include:  Aerobics Instructor, Athletic Therapist, Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist, Fitness Coach, Gym Manager, Health Care Aide, Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer, Physical Therapy Assistant, Physiotherapist, Sports Medicine Physician, Sports Nutritionist and Wellness Coordinator, among others.

*Some of these careers may require further education or licensing requirements.

To learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science program please contact Katie Sell at or by phone at 516-463-5814. For more information on the Master of Science in Sport Science program at Hofstra University, please request more information here or contact Jamie Ghigiarelli via email at or by phone at (516) 463-5122.
Source: National area labor market data retrieved from Burning Glass Technologies in April 2019. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2017.

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