Students who have a fascination with wellness, athletic training, and how fitness impacts the body are likely to be drawn to careers in health and physical development. Regardless of whether a student aspires to become a physical therapist, exercise physiologist, athletic trainer, or sports marketing expert, the first step toward obtaining jobs in this field is to earn a bachelor’s degree. The most popular undergraduate study tracks for careers in health and physical development include kinesiology and exercise science.
While many people use the terms “kinesiology” and “exercise science” interchangeably, the terms and degree programs have distinct differences. For example, whereas kinesiology is the broad study of how performance and physical activity impacts a person’s health, exercise science would be considered a subfield of kinesiology that focuses on how the body adapts to exercise.
Exercise science professionals are in demand, and data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that the job growth projections are robust. Not only does BLS data suggest that employment of exercise physiologists is projected to grow by more than 10% between 2018 and 2028, but it also shows that employment of athletic trainers is projected to grow by 19% in that same time period.
Students who find that they’re drawn to careers such as fitness consulting, healthcare consulting, and athletic recruiting are likely to find that completing an online Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science will align well with their desired career paths.
Comparing the Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology vs. Exercise Science Curricula
The primary difference between kinesiology and exercise science curricula is the broadness of the coursework. For example, whereas kinesiology degree programs focus on the broad study of human movement in athletic and nonathletic environments such as the workplace, exercise science degree programs are narrower and focus on the study of what happens to the body during exercise.
Kinesiology and exercise science majors will both need to complete general education requirements in mathematics and science. However, kinesiology majors may need classes in human anatomy, fitness testing, biomechanics, nutrition, and sports physiology. Exercise science majors can expect to take these courses, but will also take classes focused on health and fitness development, such as health program planning and evaluation, applied nutrition, and tactical strength and conditioning. Overlapping courses between the degree programs may include applied kinesiology, exercise testing, and strength and conditioning.
Kinesiology vs. Exercise Science Degree Certifications
Numerous certifications are available for graduates holding either degree who wish to advance in their careers. Examples of certifications include:
- American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP). This certification is available to professionals who have completed a bachelor’s degree in exercise science or kinesiology. It’s for professionals who want to develop exercise programs for people who are healthy or have a medically controlled disease.
- Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). This certification, offered by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, is designed for professionals who want to apply scientific knowledge of how to train athletes to improve their athletic performance.
- National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT). This certification is for health and fitness professionals who want an in-depth understanding of how to use an individualized approach to help clients reach their health and fitness needs.
- Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator (TSAC-F). Professionals who have earned this credential are certified to apply scientific knowledge to physically train law enforcement, emergency personnel, and members of the military.
- EXOS Fitness Specialist (XFS). This certification is designed for those interested in general fitness and wellness coaching.
- EXOS Performance Specialist (XPS). This certification demonstrates that the candidate has advanced knowledge of how to create advanced training programs and motivate clients to achieve their fitness goals.
Career Paths for Professionals in Kinesiology vs. Exercise Science
There are numerous professional opportunities and job prospects for graduates who have completed a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Kinesiology or Exercise Science. Some examples include athletic trainer, personal trainer, exercise physiologist, strength and conditioning coach, sports manager, and corporate wellness and physical therapist. However, professionals who want to pursue advanced positions, such as recreational therapist or physical therapist, will need to complete a master’s degree and, in some cases, a doctorate degree.
The choice of which undergraduate program to enroll in will be dependent on a student’s desired career path. For example, students who want to work in a profession that studies and works with all the mechanics of movement, both inside and outside the gym, may find that a kinesiology degree aligns best with their career goals. On the other hand, students who want to study how humans respond to exercise are likely to be drawn to a BS in Exercise Science program.
The Path Toward a Career in Exercise Science Starts at Maryville University
The first step toward a career in health and physical development is to earn a bachelor’s degree. The online bachelor’s degree program in exercise science at Maryville University has been designed specifically for students who are passionate about helping people get and stay healthy.
The dynamic, state-of-the-art program focuses on a variety of topics, such as exercise program design, nutrition, and other exercise science concepts, designed to help students be successful in their desired career. Discover how earning an online bachelor’s in exercise science from Maryville University can help you toward the job you want.
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American College of Sports Medicine, “ACSM’s Introduction to Exercise Science”
American College of Sports Medicine, Degree Requirements for the ACSM Exercise Physiologist Certification (ACSM-EP)
American Council on Exercise, “Certifications”
American Kinesiology Association, Careers in Kinesiology
Houston Chronicle, “Careers in Exercise Science & Physical Education”
Houston Chronicle, “The Average Salary of Exercise Science Majors”
Houston Chronicle, “Top Paying Jobs with a Kinesiology Degree”
National Strength and Conditioning Association, Certification Overview|
PayScale, Bachelor of Science (BS/BSc) in Kinesiology Degree
Runner’s World, “We Bust Our Butts to Get the Most of Our Training. It’s Time for Researchers to Aim for Excellence, Too”
Society of Health and Physical Educators, Fields of StudyU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Athletic Trainers
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Exercise Physiologists
Working Mother, “What Can You Do with a Kinesiology Degree?”