Kinesiology Degrees

You have always been interested in the intricacies of the human body. You spend as much of your day outdoors as possible, throwing around a football. When you're not on the field, you're on the sidelines, cheering your friends along. If this describes you, consider majoring in kinesiology, which is the scientific study of human movement. Students will study ways to improve the health and wellness of individuals and society as a whole.

Some colleges or universities may offer broader programs, where various majors are housed with a school of kinesiology, such as athletic training, movement science, physical education, and sports management. Graduates are prepared for careers in health and fitness management, coaching, and teaching, and students who plan to become physical or occupational therapists may choose to study kinesiology as undergraduates.

Classes and Assignments of a Kinesiology Major

As a kinesiology major, students may take courses in areas such as sports management; the physiology of exercise; sports law; officiating; first aid; and the principles of wellness. Students may also be required to learn the fundamental skills, techniques, and terminology used in sports such as football, soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball, and track. While curriculum can vary greatly by program, each will offer opportunities to conduct research and enhance oral and written communication skills. Required elements of the program may include internships and rotations.

Degree Levels for a Kinesiology Major

  • Associate. Online associate kinesiology degrees may be sufficient for entry into certain fitness-related fields. However, requirements vary by employer. While some employers may allow workers to substitute a bachelor's degree with certification, others may require a bachelor's degree.
  • Bachelor's. Online bachelors kinesiology degrees offer a solid foundation in the field. However, some employers who require a bachelor's degree may also require additional certification. For instance, Pilates and yoga instructors must complete specialized training programs.
  • Master's. Students may pursue online masters kinesiology degrees or degrees in related areas such as exercise science or physical therapy. The graduate degree in kinesiology is designed to encourage research and increase a student's knowledge and competency in a chosen specialization.
  • Doctoral. This degree may focus on areas such as motor control and learning, exercise physiology, and obesity studies. Designed to promote cognitive and research skills, a doctoral degree prepares students who plan to pursue careers in academia. Students will be trained to develop and evaluate programs that focus on promoting healthy living and preventing disease.

A Future as an Kinesiology Major

A kinesiology major can pursue jobs in various sports and fitness related fields, although some may require additional certifications, licenses, or degrees. Graduates may work as athletic trainers, physical or occupational therapists, sports instructors, or physical education teachers. Generally speaking, jobs in these fields are expected to grow much faster than the average for all other occupations. Employment for fitness workers is projected to increase 29% through 2018, while employment for coaches is expected to increase by 23% in the decade before 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The average yearly earnings of fitness workers were $35,920, according to the BLS May 2010 survey. On average, coaches earned $35,950. Of course, salary varies based on field, experience, location, and employer, so neither job availability nor salary is guaranteed.