The Path to Becoming an Exercise Science Graduate

Exercise science is a relatively new field of study that has caught the attention of many students in recent years – especially those with a passion for fitness and exercise. Ultimately, these exercise science majors are hoping to use their passion for health to have a positive impact on the health habits of individuals in their future careers. The good news: exercise science is a great degree to pursue, as there is a vast career pool waiting for future exercise science graduates!

Why students might choose a career in physical therapy

There are several different careers that you might consider when pursuing an exercise science degree, with physical therapy typically falling to the forefront of options. As a physical therapist, you will work to help patients recover from health conditions and/or injuries that have some sort of negative impact on their ability to move as well as their pain levels. Becoming a physical therapist is a very rewarding career path and experience, especially because there are tons of opportunities for both personal and professional growth. There could be several underlying reasons that students might choose to pursue a career in physical therapy, such as:

  • Their passion for helping others with fitness/exercise-related goals
  • The travel opportunities
  • The different work environments that are available
  • The competitive salary
  • The ability to build relationships with patients

These are just a few of the many reasons that students today consider a career in physical therapy, but what all goes into the actual education needed to pursue this career path? Stay tuned to learn more about pursuing an exercise science degree and what is required for students.

Choosing the right school

After you determine that the exercise science field is the route you’d like to pursue, the next step is to choose the right school for you. When considering what college will provide you with the best education and prepare you the most for your future career, there’s more to consider than just the in-classroom education and curriculum. As physical therapists work to improve overall functionality and improve patients’ movement, it’s important for students to receive some sort of hands-on training experience.

The information being taught in the classroom is very important, since this is the educational foundation on which you will build your future career. Finding a college that takes that textbook information and helps you to then apply it to real-world scenarios is just as important. For example, Berry College offers its exercise science physical therapy students the opportunity to complete a for-credit internship with occupational therapy clinics. This helps their students to take the information they learned in the classroom and apply it to a real-life situation.

Courses you can expect the take during your education

Exercise science is all about understanding the intricate details of the human body, physiology, and biomechanics. According to Fitness Mentors, exercise science describes the study of the body under the stress of exercise. This includes both chronic and acute adaptations such as the overall health parameters, pathologies, and the potential to reduce or reverse any disease progression. The concept sounds relatively difficult, but the information you will learn throughout your education all build off of each other, and the foundational information and knowledge you obtain will help you to better understand the more difficult concepts further into your education. If you’re pursuing a degree in exercise science, you can most likely expect to have coursework in the following:

  • Exercise nutrition
  • Exercise physiology
  • Fitness
  • Health
  • Biomechanics
  • Kinesiology

However, there will also be the general education requirements colleges and universities require, as well.

Jobs you can get with an exercise science degree

The career outlook for exercise science majors is continuing to increase. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for exercise science majors is projected to increase by over 13% within the next decade, which is significantly quicker than the average occupation increase. The exercise science field has so many potential career paths and jobs you can pursue upon graduation.

Exercise Physiologist

As an exercise physiologist, you will work to help develop fitness and exercise programs for patients who are recovering from an illness or injury. In simple terms, exercise physiologists analyze patients’ fitness to help better understand ways they can improve their patient’s overall health. In many cases, exercise physiologists work with patients who have heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or other underlying health concerns.

Physical Therapist

As mentioned previously, many people pursue a degree in exercise science with the ultimate goal of becoming a physical therapist. As a physical therapist, you will work with patients to help manage their pain and improve their overall body movement. They may help patients suffering from injuries and illnesses revolving around their neurological, cardiopulmonary, musculoskeletal, and integumentary systems. Physical therapists will do generalized physical examinations on the patients, then come up with a specific treatment plan typically around exercising, stretching, and other hands-on techniques depending on their specific needs.

Athletic Director

As an athletic director, you will work to oversee a high school, college, or private institute’s athletic program. Typically, this role is responsible for budgeting, scheduling, and promoting sporting events, as well as organizing transportation, supervising coaches, and ensuring athletes are on track with their coursework.


Another popular career path many exercise science majors pursue is to become a chiropractor. As a chiropractor, you will care for a patient’s neuromusculoskeletal system, involving their bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and tendons. Typically, chiropractors help to manage neck and back pain in patients by doing spinal adjustments to maintain proper alignment within the body. Depending on each patient’s specific needs and the severity of their pain, they can work with their patients to develop a treatment plan and help to monitor their progress.

There are several other career paths available for exercise science graduates, such as working as a coach, sports nutritionist, personal trainer, physical education teacher, and so much more. The opportunities are truly endless in this field depending on your area of interest. The first step in pursuing a career in the exercise science field is to find the right college that best suits you and what you hope to learn. The rest will fall into place throughout your time spent in the classroom and throughout your future internship opportunities.

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