Kinesiology is an attractive career choice because it incorporates aspects of a variety of disciplines while also tapping into the popular health and fitness industry. Kinesiologists can use the education and training they acquire in the field to seek employment in this growing subject or use that training for overlapping professions or other related fields. Kinesiology is the study of movement and many students of the subject go on to pursue a career in physical therapy. With so many employment and career advancement options open to future kinesiologists, the kinesiologist salary can be quite variable.
Although a kinesiology education is a common jumping off point for a career in physical therapy, many with a strong background in this subject also go on to become athletic trainers, coaches, or venture into other related specialized fields. As an interdisciplinary subject that provides training in several core areas, this field does prepare students to be able to venture into several areas. With job growth in the field expected to grow much faster than the natural average, there will be more than enough jobs to allow kinesiologists room to move within this exciting field or branch out into others.
Job Description and Outlook
Job growth in a field will be just as important to prospective entrants into a field as compensation. Because there is so much that can be done with a kinesiology degree, the kinesiologist salary is variable, perhaps even more variable than most of the statistics indicate. For many, though, entering into this field is perhaps just as much about the nature of the work and the freedom it may provide as it is about salary. In reality, all of these variables should be taken into consideration when making the decision of choosing one profession over another.
The name kinesis comes from the Greek word for movement, and as the study of movement, kinesiology involves an understanding of the natural way the body moves as well as disorders or injuries that can affect the movement of the human body. In this regard, workers with a background in kinesiology may find themselves working closely with healthcare providers, whether it is in the form of helping to diagnose movement disorders or being involved in treatment.
There are many routes that can allow students with a background in kinesiology to be involved in the diagnosis and treatment of movement disorders and other dysfunctions, whether it is as a physical therapist, athletic trainer or another specialist. Naturally, men and women with a background in kinesiology can also be involved in training and strengthening the body, outside of the realm of any disorder or dysfunction. This allows students to pursue careers that best suit their interests, or other goals such as the work location that student would like to work in or work hours.
The kinesiologist has the opportunity to aid clients in various aspects of their functioning, such as work, exercise, professional sports, or even the routine activities of daily life. Job outlook will be discussed in a minute. Because of an aging population in the United States, the need for individuals with a background in kinesiology is expected to grow much faster than the national average across all professionals, according to government data. This reflects the importance of professionals that are able to diagnose movement problems and provide therapeutic solutions.
The kinesiologist can find himself or herself wearing a variety of different hats, but because of the nature of the work that they do, there are certain duties that are consistent across the discipline. What follows is a short list of typical duties for workers with a background in kinesiology:
Many professionals with a background in kinesiology go on to careers in physical therapy, which may not be surprising considering the job duties listed above. Much of the data about job growth and kinesiologist salary comes from statistics about the overlapping career of physical therapy, most of the practitioners of which come from a background of study in kinesiology. Because of the nature of the work in this field, kinesiology and physical therapy overlap with the related occupation of recreational therapy, which also involves improving the mobility of clients to enhance daily functioning.
In terms of career options available for students of kinesiology, there are several attractive careers open for specialists in this field. The kinesiologist salary will vary depending on which route the kinesiologist takes as well as other variables like years of experience.
Kinesiologists can work in a variety of settings, with hospital and other healthcare settings being common. This should not be surprising as many kinesiologists go on to pursue careers in physical therapy. Kinesiologists may work in the following settings:
The hours of kinesiologists vary depending on the nature of their work. Many kinesiologists work a typical work week although some may be expected to assume on-call hours or be on a rotating call schedule with other therapists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this field are expected to grow by 34% between 2014 and 2024, which is much higher than the national average, which is about 10%. Workers report a high degree of job satisfaction although many workers do decide to branch out into other specialties later in their career. As previously stated, most of this data comes from the overlapping field of physical therapy that many kinesiologists pursue careers in.
Education And Certifications
There are associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree programs in kinesiology, with many universities and community colleges nationwide having programs in the subject. An education in kinesiology will include a high level of training in science subjects as well as other subjects that provide training in human anatomy, movement, and disorders of the human body. An exciting aspect of this profession for some will be that new treatments are constantly being developed, such as cold therapy, so an education in this subject should prepare the student for this.
Working as a kinesiologist will typically require the professional to possess a bachelor’s degree, though there are two-year programs available at many community colleges across the country. Though there are two-year associate’s degree programs available, some of these are designed to give students the fundamentals in kinesiology and exercise science as a precursor to the student eventually transferring to a four-year program. Subjects covered in kinesiology degree programs include the following:
A solid grounding in these subjects will help kinesiology students eventually become valuable members of the therapeutic team if they plan to one day go on to work as physical therapists. These subjects will also come in handy if the student intends to work as an athletic coach, or in any capacity that involves working with individuals with movement problems, or with professional athletes.
There are graduate degree programs available in kinesiology and exercise science for students involved in careers in teaching and training. Students of kinesiology interested in becoming physical therapists will go on to complete further training in the subject, culminating in the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree (DPT). Physical therapy schools are accredited by national organizations, so students should keep this in mind when selecting a school. Licensure is required for physical therapists. There also physical therapy assistant programs available for students who are interested although students with a bachelor’s in kinesiology will probably have more advanced training.
Although students have their own reasons as to why they choose to enter one profession over another, salary is a significant factor for many and it is important to have realistic expectations in this regard. The kinesiologist salary will vary depending on the specialized profession that students with a kinesiology degree go into, and much of the data comes from physical therapy. The average kinesiologist salary is $46,828 a year, and this salary is relatively consistent even with increases in the number of years of experience.
Kinesiologists that go into physical therapy can expect a greater kinesiologist salary. The kinesiologist salary for these professionals is about $84,000 according to data from the Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS).
The choice of career isn’t always an easy one, especially with so many options available. The decision becomes more difficult when one takes into account variables like job growth, education, certification requirements, and salary. Many students may be attracted to the kinesiology field because it is an interesting interdisciplinary subject that allows students to branch out into related fields later on in their careers. With a decent kinesiologist salary and good job growth predictions, there will probably be plenty of budding professionals interested in pursuing study in this area.