Career, Salary and Education Information
What They Do: Exercise physiologists develop fitness and exercise programs that help injured or sick patients recover.
Work Environment: About half of exercise physiologists are self-employed. Most others work for hospitals and other healthcare providers. Most exercise physiologists work full time.
How to Become One: Exercise physiologists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree. Degree programs include science and health-related courses, such as biology, anatomy, kinesiology, and nutrition, as well as clinical work.
Salary: The median annual wage for exercise physiologists is $47,940.
Job Outlook: Employment of exercise physiologists is projected to grow 9 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of exercise physiologists with similar occupations.
Following is everything you need to know about a career as an exercise physiologist with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:
Top 3 Exercise Physiologist Jobs
Nutritionist & Exercise Physiologist
- Austin, TX
The Nutritionist & Exercise Physiologist is responsible for creating and adapting new, creative and progressive programming for Miraval guests, based on science and not trends. Essential Functions
- MyMichigan Health
- Gladwin, MI
The Exercise Physiologist is responsible for the participation and decisions in daily operations within the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation environment. This includes and is not limited to the ...
Clinical Exercise Physiologist
- Life Scan Wellness Centers
- Renton, WA
The clinical exercise physiologist is responsible for the cardiopulmonary and fitness assessments of our patients. Job Summary *Experience in clinical exercise testing and strong EKG interpretation ...
What Exercise Physiologists Do[About this section] [To Top]
Exercise physiologists develop fitness and exercise programs that help patients recover from chronic diseases and improve cardiovascular function, body composition, and flexibility.
Duties of Exercise Physiologists
Exercise physiologists typically do the following:
- Analyze a patient's medical history to assess their risk during exercise and to determine the best possible exercise and fitness regimen for the patient
- Perform fitness and stress tests with medical equipment and analyze the resulting patient data
- Measure blood pressure, oxygen usage, heart rhythm, and other key patient health indicators
- Develop exercise programs to improve patients' health
Exercise physiologists work to improve overall patient health. Many of their patients suffer from health problems such as cardiovascular disease or pulmonary (lung) disease. Exercise physiologists provide health education and exercise plans to improve key health indicators.
Some physiologists work closely with primary care physicians, who may prescribe exercise regimens for their patients and refer them to exercise physiologists. The physiologists then work with patients to develop individualized treatment plans that will help the patients meet their health and fitness goals.
Work Environment for Exercise Physiologists[About this section] [To Top]
Exercise physiologists hold about 21,400 jobs. The largest employers of exercise physiologists are as follows:
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||21%|
|Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists||2%|
|Offices of physicians||2%|
Exercise Physiologist Work Schedules
Most exercise physiologists work full time.
How to Become an Exercise Physiologist[About this section] [To Top]
Get the education you need: Find schools for Exercise Physiologists near you!
Exercise physiologists typically need at least a bachelor's degree. Degree programs include science and health-related courses, such as biology, anatomy, kinesiology, and nutrition, as well as clinical work.
Education for Exercise Physiologists
Exercise physiologists typically need at least a bachelor's degree in exercise physiology, exercise science, kinesiology, or a related field. Master's degree programs also are available. Programs include courses in science and health-related subjects, such as biology, anatomy, statistics, kinesiology, and nutrition, as well as clinical work. In 2017, there were about 60 programs in exercise physiology, exercise science, and kinesiology accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Exercise Physiologists
Louisiana is the only state that requires exercise physiologists to be licensed, although some states have pending legislation to create licensure requirements.
Employers typically require exercise physiologists to have Basic Life Support (BLS) certification or Advanced Life Support (ACLS) certification, both of which include training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
The American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP) offers the Exercise Physiologist Certified (EPC) certification, which physiologists can use to demonstrate their qualifications. To be eligible for certification, candidates must pass the ASEP exam and hold ASEP membership. In addition, candidates must have either a bachelor's degree in exercise physiology or a bachelor's degree in a related field, and they must have completed specific coursework requirements. To maintain certification, candidates must complete continuing education courses every 5 years.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) also offers certifications for exercise physiologists: the Certified Exercise Physiologist (EP-C) and the Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist (CEP) credentials for candidates with a bachelor's degree, as well as the Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP) for candidates with a master's or higher degree. All three ACSM credentials require CPR certification and passing an exam. Candidates for the CEP and the RCEP also must have at least 400 and 600 hours of supervised clinical experience, respectively. All three ACSM certifications require candidates to complete continuing education courses every 3 years, and keep their CPR certification up to date.
Important Qualities for Exercise Physiologists
Compassion. Because exercise physiologists work with patients who may be in considerable pain or discomfort, they must be sympathetic while working with patients.
Decisionmaking skills. Exercise physiologists must make informed clinical decisions because those decisions could affect the health or livelihood of patients.
Detail oriented. Exercise physiologists must record detailed, accurate information about their patients' conditions and about any progress the patients make. For example, they must ensure that patients are completing the appropriate stress tests or practicing the correct fitness regimen.
Interpersonal skills. Exercise physiologists must have strong interpersonal skills and manage difficult situations. They must communicate clearly with others, including physicians, patients, and patients' families.
Exercise Physiologist Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]
The median annual wage for exercise physiologists is $47,940. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,930, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,950.
The median annual wages for exercise physiologists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||$47,970|
|Offices of physicians||$47,270|
|Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists||$47,000|
Most exercise physiologists work full time.
Job Outlook for Exercise Physiologists[About this section] [To Top]
Employment of exercise physiologists is projected to grow 9 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations.
About 1,700 openings for exercise physiologists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Employment of Exercise Physiologists
Demand for these workers may rise as healthcare providers emphasize exercise and preventive care to help patients recover from cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases and improve their overall health.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2021||Projected Employment, 2031||Change, 2021-31|
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.