Kinesiology is the scientific study of human movement and physical activity. It has become a popular major for students interested in health, sports, and exercise science. But is kinesiology a good major for you?
Here’s a quick answer: Kinesiology can be a great major if you are interested in healthcare careers like physical therapy, coaching, or athletic training. However, it is less applicable to careers outside those fields. Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of a kinesiology degree.
In this comprehensive guide, we will analyze the career prospects, earning potential, and other factors to consider when deciding if kinesiology is the right path for you.
Overview of Kinesiology
Kinesiology is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on the study of human movement and the mechanics of the human body. It encompasses various areas of study, including exercise science, biomechanics, physiology, anatomy, and sports psychology.
Kinesiology professionals analyze the way people move and the impact of physical activity on overall health and well-being.
Definition and areas of study
Kinesiology is derived from the Greek words “kinesis” meaning movement and “logos” meaning study. It is an applied science that explores the mechanics, control, and coordination of human movement. Kinesiology professionals work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, sports teams, fitness facilities, and research institutions.
They utilize their expertise to enhance athletic performance, prevent injuries, and promote healthier lifestyles.
Within the field of kinesiology, there are several specialized areas of study. Some common areas include exercise physiology, which focuses on how the body responds and adapts to exercise; biomechanics, which examines the mechanics of human movement; and sports psychology, which explores the mental and emotional aspects of sports performance.
Typical courses and curriculum
A kinesiology major typically involves a combination of theoretical coursework and practical experiences. Students may take classes in anatomy, physiology, exercise science, motor control, nutrition, sports psychology, and biomechanics.
These courses provide a solid foundation in understanding the human body and its response to physical activity.
In addition to classroom learning, kinesiology programs often incorporate hands-on experiences to enhance practical skills. Students may have the opportunity to work with athletes, conduct research studies, assist in exercise testing and prescription, and gain real-world experience through internships or clinical rotations.
These hands-on opportunities allow students to apply their knowledge in a practical setting and gain valuable skills for their future careers.
Hands-on learning opportunities
One of the unique aspects of studying kinesiology is the abundance of hands-on learning opportunities. Whether it’s conducting research studies, working with athletes, or assisting in exercise testing and prescription, students in kinesiology programs have the chance to apply their knowledge in real-world settings.
Internships and clinical rotations are also common in kinesiology programs, providing students with valuable practical experience. These opportunities allow students to work alongside professionals in the field and gain insight into various career paths within kinesiology.
Whether it’s working with physical therapists, strength and conditioning coaches, or sports psychologists, students can explore different areas of interest and determine their career goals.
Career Paths With a Kinesiology Degree
Obtaining a degree in kinesiology opens up a variety of career paths for individuals interested in the field of human movement and exercise science. Whether you have a passion for healthcare, coaching, or the fitness industry, a kinesiology degree can provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue a fulfilling career.
Here are some of the potential career paths you can consider:
Healthcare careers like physical therapy
One of the most common career paths for individuals with a kinesiology degree is in healthcare, particularly in the field of physical therapy. With a background in kinesiology, you will have a solid understanding of human anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics, which are essential in assessing and rehabilitating patients with musculoskeletal injuries or movement disorders.
Physical therapy offers a rewarding career where you can make a positive impact on people’s lives and help them regain their mobility and functionality.
Coaching and athletic training
If you have a passion for sports and working with athletes, a kinesiology degree can lead to a career in coaching or athletic training. With your knowledge of human movement and exercise science, you can help athletes improve their performance, prevent injuries, and design effective training programs.
Whether you work with professional athletes, college teams, or youth sports organizations, coaching and athletic training roles allow you to combine your love for sports with your expertise in kinesiology.
Fitness industry jobs
The fitness industry is a booming field, and a kinesiology degree can open doors to various job opportunities within this sector. You can work as a personal trainer, designing individualized exercise programs and helping clients achieve their fitness goals.
Additionally, you can consider roles in fitness management, corporate wellness, or group exercise instruction. With a kinesiology degree, you will have a comprehensive understanding of exercise principles, nutrition, and fitness assessment, making you a valuable asset in the fitness industry.
Possibilities outside direct field
While many kinesiology graduates pursue careers directly related to their field of study, there are also opportunities outside the traditional paths. The critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills developed through a kinesiology degree can be transferable to other industries.
For example, you may find success in areas such as healthcare administration, research and development, or even sales and marketing for fitness-related products. The versatility of a kinesiology degree allows you to explore various career paths and find the one that aligns with your interests and goals.
For more information about career paths in kinesiology, you can visit the American Kinesiology Association’s website at www.americankinesiology.org.
Job Prospects and Salaries for Kinesiology Majors
Projected job growth in related fields
For aspiring kinesiology majors, the job prospects in related fields are quite promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of exercise physiologists, athletic trainers, and recreational therapists is projected to grow at a faster-than-average rate of X% between now and 2028.
This growth can be attributed to the increasing emphasis on preventative healthcare and the growing aging population. So, if you choose to pursue a career in kinesiology, you can be confident that there will be ample job opportunities available to you in the coming years.
Starting and mid-career salary ranges
When it comes to salary, kinesiology majors can expect a competitive compensation package. Although the exact figures may vary depending on factors such as location and experience, the median annual wage for exercise physiologists is around $X, according to the BLS.
Entry-level positions may start with a slightly lower salary, but as you gain experience and expertise in the field, your earning potential will increase significantly. Mid-career professionals in kinesiology can earn an average salary of $X, making it a financially rewarding career path to pursue.
Factors affecting earning potential
The earning potential of kinesiology majors can be influenced by various factors. Firstly, the level of education you achieve can impact your salary. Those with advanced degrees, such as a Master’s or Doctorate, tend to earn higher salaries compared to those with just a Bachelor’s degree.
Additionally, the type of industry you work in can also affect your earning potential. For example, kinesiology professionals working in research and development or in healthcare and social assistance may earn higher salaries compared to those working in educational institutions.
Furthermore, gaining professional certifications and specialized training can also boost your earning potential as a kinesiology major. Certifications such as Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) or Certified Exercise Physiologist (CEP) can demonstrate your expertise and make you more marketable to potential employers.
It’s important to note that while salary is an essential factor to consider, many individuals are drawn to the field of kinesiology not solely for the financial benefits but also because of their passion for promoting health and wellness.
So, if you have a genuine interest in the subject matter, the job satisfaction and fulfillment you derive from your work can outweigh any potential salary concerns.
Pros of Choosing Kinesiology
Preparation for health and fitness careers
Kinesiology is an excellent major for individuals interested in pursuing careers in health and fitness. This field of study provides a solid foundation in understanding the human body’s movement, function, and performance.
Graduates with a degree in kinesiology have a wide range of career options, including becoming personal trainers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, sports coaches, and exercise physiologists.
These professions are in high demand and offer rewarding opportunities to make a positive impact on people’s lives.
Interesting mix of science and practice
One of the great benefits of studying kinesiology is the fascinating blend of scientific knowledge and practical application. Students learn about biomechanics, exercise physiology, anatomy, and other scientific principles that form the basis of human movement.
They also gain hands-on experience through laboratory work, internships, and clinical placements, where they can apply the knowledge they have acquired in real-world settings. This combination of theory and practice makes the learning experience engaging and prepares students for the challenges they may face in their future careers.
Opportunities for hands-on learning
Kinesiology programs often provide students with ample opportunities for hands-on learning. Whether it’s through laboratory experiments, fieldwork, or internships, students can actively engage in practical experiences that reinforce their classroom learning.
These hands-on opportunities not only enhance their understanding of concepts but also develop their problem-solving skills, critical thinking abilities, and communication skills. Additionally, working directly with clients or patients allows students to develop empathy and interpersonal skills, which are essential in the field of kinesiology.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of fitness trainers and instructors is projected to grow 15 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for physical therapists is also expected to increase by 18 percent during the same period.
These statistics highlight the promising job prospects for individuals with a kinesiology degree.
Cons of Choosing Kinesiology
Limited options outside health field
One of the drawbacks of choosing kinesiology as a major is the limited career options available outside the health field. Kinesiology is primarily focused on the study of human movement and its impact on health and wellness.
While this can open doors to various healthcare professions such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and athletic training, it may not offer as many opportunities in other industries. Those who are interested in pursuing careers outside of healthcare may find it challenging to find relevant job prospects with a kinesiology degree.
Lower starting salaries in some pathways
Another consideration when choosing kinesiology as a major is the potential for lower starting salaries in certain career pathways. While the healthcare field offers rewarding and fulfilling careers, it is no secret that some positions may have lower starting salaries compared to other industries.
For example, entry-level positions in physical therapy or athletic training may not offer the same level of financial compensation as fields such as finance or engineering. However, it is important to note that salaries can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and specialization within the field.
Difficulty entering physical therapy school
For those interested in pursuing a career in physical therapy, another challenge of choosing kinesiology as a major is the competitive nature of physical therapy school admissions. Physical therapy programs are highly competitive, with a limited number of spots available.
Admissions criteria often include a combination of prerequisite coursework, observation hours, letters of recommendation, and competitive GPA and GRE scores. As a result, aspiring physical therapists may face intense competition when applying to physical therapy programs, making it a potential hurdle for those pursuing this career path.
Ideal Candidates for a Kinesiology Degree
Students interested in exercise, health, and medicine
Kinesiology is an excellent major for students who have a passion for exercise, health, and medicine. If you find yourself constantly researching the latest workout trends, reading about nutrition, and staying up-to-date with advancements in the field of medicine, then a kinesiology degree might be the perfect fit for you.
This major allows you to delve deep into the science behind human movement, exercise physiology, and the impact of physical activity on overall health and well-being.
Strong backgrounds in science and anatomy
A solid foundation in science and anatomy is crucial for success in a kinesiology program. As a kinesiology major, you will be studying the human body extensively, so having a strong understanding of biology, chemistry, and anatomy will give you a head start.
Knowledge of these subjects will not only make your coursework more manageable but will also enhance your ability to apply theoretical concepts to real-world scenarios.
Willingness to pursue graduate degrees
While a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology can open up a range of career opportunities, many students in this field choose to pursue advanced degrees. If you have a strong desire to specialize in a specific area of kinesiology or want to work in a research or clinical setting, obtaining a graduate degree will be beneficial.
A master’s or doctoral degree can provide you with a deeper understanding of the field and increase your job prospects and earning potential.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for exercise physiologists, a common career path for kinesiology graduates, is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
This indicates that there will be a demand for professionals with advanced degrees in kinesiology.
Kinesiology offers specialized preparation for careers in physical therapy, coaching, athletic training, and more. However, the focus on human movement means options are limited outside of health and fitness fields.
By weighing the pros and cons, you can determine if the hands-on curriculum aligns with your professional goals.