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Do You Need an Advanced Degree to Pursue a Career in Exercise Science? - by Sarah Daren

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."

Sarah Daren is a featured writer on the Today Show website and has been a consultant for organizations across a number of industries including athletics, health and wellness, technology and education. When she's not caring for her children or watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.

Sarah Daren
Sarah Daren

The short answer to this question is "no," but exercise science is a pretty vast term, and depending on your career path within the field, an advanced degree could be highly recommended, and in some cases, required. Whether that be a masters or a doctorate also depends on the focus you'd like to take, as it does with most fields related to health.

Here is a look at some career options for individuals with exercise science degrees (or similar) who may not be sure if they want to pursue further education, or take a position that their bachelor's degree would qualify them for.

Exercise Science - Bachelor's Degree

For many students, both the financial aspect and overall stress levels of college make it a very difficult decision to pursue even more education after finally getting that bachelor's degree. It's important to remember that you can always go back for more education at any point in your life, so if you're feeling burnt out on school, it might be a good move to hit the workforce for a bit or you may wind up hating the field before you even get to experience it. Here are a few options for fresh undergrad degree holders:

Physical Education Teacher - A common job that exists in pretty much every city in America (and many beyond) is that of a physical education teacher. Generally these professionals are only required to have a bachelor's degree, and many phys ed teachers have a lot of satisfaction from their work. A bonus is that many educational facilities help fund further education for their staff with summer classes and such, so this path could be great for someone wanting to slowly-but-surely attain a higher degree while still enjoying the workforce.

Wellness Program Manager/Director - Somewhat akin to what a physical education teacher brings students, wellness program managers work in corporate environments to help employees maintain a healthy lifestyle, ultimately making their work life easier and more efficient. Insurance premiums go down when wellness program managers do their jobs right, so you also get the perk of saving all of your coworkers money! Camp Director - Summer camps for kids aren't very popular right now because of the pandemic, but soon enough they will be back in style, and camp directors are responsible for planning and implementing programs and camper activities for youngsters looking for a fulfilling and educational experience in the summer.

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Exercise Science - Master's Degree

For those individuals who have spent some time in the workforce or who are not burned out on education, here are some options for careers that are tough to come by without a master's degree:

Exercise Physiologist - Exercise physiologists tend to work with individuals rather than groups, and they focus on developing unique exercise and health plans to maximize a given individual's potential and wellness. In addition to a master's degree, certifications are required by most employers.

Healthcare Consultant - Healthcare consultants tend to be individuals who acted as wellness program directors or something similar. They are sought-after individuals who get paid for their time in helping other companies prepare wellness initiatives. The master's degree here is pretty much just a sign to potential clients that you're, indeed, a master in the field.

Exercise Science - PhD

Athletic Trainer - Though some trainer positions at the high-school and semi-pro levels of sports are attainable with a master's degree, if you want to be a trainer on a college or pro team, a master's is all but a necessity. Trainers help athletes with their day-to-day physical training, as well as wellness and diet preparation.

Athletic Director - AD's work at the high school and collegiate levels and oversee the administrative duties related to sports. This includes scheduling, budgeting, fundraising, and, of course, ensuring that all student athletes are healthy and qualified for physical contact via sports.

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Bonus Points

In addition to being a "cool" job, those involved in exercise science and physical training also tend to be healthier individuals and live longer lives. This list here is not exhaustive, and if you're asking yourself "what can I do with my exercise science degree," rest easy knowing that you have a ton of options, and can even change careers easily with some small certifications here and there.

Articles by Sarah Daren