Individuals inspiring to work in the field of kinesiology generally choose this field not just because it offers the opportunity to help others but also because there is a good salary potential with a degree in kinesiology. Defined as the study of the human body movement, kinesiology is a field that requires education, training and certification. It also offers several areas of specialization. Graduates who hold a kinesiology degree may find very good career opportunities and wage potential.
What is a Kinesiologist?
Kinesiologists are highly trained medical professionals who treat and help prevent athlete injuries; work with patients with chronic illnesses or injuries that alter their range of movement, or assist patients in regaining and maintaining physical wellness after an illness or injury. Kinesiologists generally specialize in sports medicine or physical therapy and usually are part of a team that consists of athletic trainers, social workers, dietitians and other medical professionals. Prior to earning their degree in kinesiology, they may choose to specialize in a certain area of kinesiology, such as biomechanics kinesiology, exercise kinesiology, ergonomic kinesiology or psychomotor kinesiology to name a few.
How to Become a Kinesiologist
To become a kinesiologist, an individual must earn a degree from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. One can join this field with a bachelor’s degree, but they usually find their employment options or more limited than those with a master’s degree. Kinesiology programs usually take four to five years to complete and require a minimum of 128 semester hours to complete.
In addition to coursework, the aspiring kinesiologist much complete at least 1,000 hours of clinical internships under the supervision of a registered kinesiologist according to the American Kinesiotherapy Association. Once they graduate, students are highly encouraged to take the registration examination in kinesiotherapy to obtain certification. Individuals interested in working as researchers, teachers or lecturers generally earn a graduate degree.
Salary Potential with a Degree in Kinesiology
Graduates with a degree in kinesiology have the potential to earn very good wages. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that exercise physiologists, which are similar to kinesiologists, earn average annual wages ranging from $34,250 to $78,410 with the average annual wage at $54,730 as of May 2017. PayScale reports that kinesiologists earned wages ranging from $32,529 to $97,000 with the average annual wage at $47,000 as of February 2019.
What Affects Wage Potential for Kinesiologists?
There are several factors that can affect the wages for kinesiologists. The higher the degree level, the higher the salary potential. Those with a graduate degree will typically find higher-paying jobs than someone with an undergraduate degree. They’ll also find a wider variety of opportunities available, which will equate to a higher wage potential. Other factors affecting the salary potential include the amount of experience, certifications obtained, the area of specialization, employer and geographic location. Kinesiologists working in larger cities usually earn higher wages than those in small rural areas. The states where the highest wages are paid to exercise physiologist are California, New York, Connecticut, Minnesota and Arizona.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that exercise physiologists should experience an employment growth of 13 percent during the 2016-2026 decade, which should result in about 2,000 new jobs created in this field by 2026. Individuals with master’s and graduate degrees in kinesiology should find not only job growth and rewarding work but also a very good salary potential.