Turn Your Passion for Health, Fitness, and Wellness into a Career with an Exercise Science DegreeBy David Thompson, UniversityHerald Reporter
The adage "find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life" has been attributed to Confucius, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, and Mark Anthony. It is possible they all uttered a variation of the advice at one point, but the original author remains disputed. What isn't disputed, however, is the truth within this saying.
When you spend your days doing what you love - it doesn't feel like "work." Work is defined as the mental and physical effort put forth to achieve a result and something a person has to do. Pursuing a career in an industry you are passionate about won't feel like something you have to do but rather something you want to do. It is no longer simply a job but a career you will pursue, build and grow.
Individuals in the health, fitness, and wellness industry have excelled at this. Many of those who have pursued careers in this field are passionate about the subject. For example, a person who loves fitness, spending their time in the gym, and talking about weightlifting can make a living by sharing their passion with others as a personal trainer. Or, a person may be passionate about diet and nutrition and loves sharing this knowledge with others to help them live happier, healthier lives through a better diet.
There are many different career opportunities in the health, fitness, and wellness industry. But to pursue a career in the area, you need the proper education and training. You may be the most passionate person in the world, but passion alone won't get you an interview or bring in clients.
As you search for colleges with exercise science majors, an exercise science degree should equip you with the experience, knowledge, and skills required for a career in the industry.
The program studies bodies in motion, providing an in-depth knowledge of how the body functions and how this can be applied to help others. When pursuing an exercise science degree, you can choose a concentration based on your area of interest, such as clinical, strength and conditioning, or pre-professional/pre-physical therapy. You may also opt to take a multidisciplinary approach and combine kinesiology, communication, and business if you are interested in a sports management career.
Many of the careers within this field do not involve sitting behind a desk. Though it may be one aspect of it, you will also use various diagnostic tools, complete assessments, and work one-on-one with clients. Your education and training should prepare you for this as well, teaching you how to use metabolic testing equipment, Biopak systems, Dartfish video analysis technology, and a dual energy X-ray absorptiometer.
Ideally, during your time at school, you will also receive hands-on experience. Internships are incredibly valuable, especially when you want to pursue a career in something you are passionate about. An internship offered by a school or employer provides an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of working in the field. As a student, there are several benefits to an internship. First and foremost, you will gain valuable experience. The hands-on experience you receive is something you can't get from sitting in a classroom or reading a book. You will witness the day-to-day duties of the job, network, and obtain essential skills needed for that specific career.
An internship will also allow you to explore a career path without the commitment. For example, you think you want to become a personal trainer but may learn that you are more passionate about a career as a strength and conditioning coach through an internship. These internship opportunities also look great on a resume and can help you get a job following graduation.
Not all internships or personal development programs are paid, but some colleges do offer compensation so you can learn, gain experience, and make money simultaneously. For example, the exercise science degree program at Berry College in Mount Berry, Georgia, provides students with four years of paid, mentored, professional development experience. Students receive monetary compensation for their time as well as receiving credit for the internship. In addition, students can choose an internship based on their area of interest, like working in physical and occupational therapy clinics, medical centers, and strength training facilities.
With an exercise science degree, you can work in rehabilitation, nutrition, or fitness in a range of different environments. For example, gyms and fitness facilities hire graduates to help clients safely reach their health and fitness goals, whether that be overcoming a sports injury or losing weight. You can also work in the sports industry with an exercise science degree. Professional sports leagues, colleges, and universities hire exercise science grads to help players with exercise, rehabilitation, and nutrition. Through physical therapy or strength and conditioning, these individuals help players prevent and overcome injuries. An exercise major also positions students for graduate studies that can lead to such positions as medical doctors, exercise physiologists, registered dietitians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and chiropractors.
Alternatively, if you are more passionate about research, you can continue to study kinesiology or become a researcher in the field. At Berry College, their program offers internship opportunities for this path as well by working as a faculty research assistant.
With a degree in exercise science and a related internship on your resume, you won't have trouble finding a position after graduation. The demand for these graduates has substantially increased. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for fitness trainers between 2020 and 2030 is estimated to increase by 39%, noted as being much faster than average. Athletic trainers are also on the rise, increasing by 23% and physical therapist assistants growing by 32%. The projected growth for careers in the field is significant and considered some of the fastest-growing occupations between 2020-2030. Some careers that require a bachelor's degree include athletic director, recreation and sports director, and sports coach.
You can get paid for your passion when you choose the right career. By pursuing an exercise science degree, you can turn your passion for health, fitness, and wellness into a career you love, and you may find that you never "work" a day in your life ever again.