Exercise Science Degree Careers, Jobs, and Salaries

What can you do with an exercise science degree?

Exercise science professionals know they have a great responsibility to ensure the safety and health of clients and patients at all ages and skills levels in whatever fields they specialize in. The exercise science professions offer many exciting and challenging career opportunities allowing professionals to earn a good living, help others, and enjoy a great quality of life.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers related to the field of exercise science are growing. Here are some exercise science jobs from the Occupational Outlook Handbook and other resources:

Fitness / Personal Trainers and Group Fitness Instructors

Employment is projected to grow 19% through 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. Preventative health care, focused on wellness and fitness, is starting to mature as an important aspect of the health care system. As businesses, government, and insurance organizations continue to recognize the benefits of health and fitness programs for their employees, incentives to join gyms or other types of health clubs are expected to increase the need for fitness trainers and instructors.

  • Job prospects are best for workers with professional certification or increased levels of formal education (bachelors and masters degrees) in exercise science, health or fitness
  • While median annual wage for fitness trainers and instructors was $40,390 in 2021, most professionals with a bachelors and/or masters degree in exercise science, from an accredited university, can earn much more. For example, many graduates of PennWest University’s (formerly California University or Cal U) exercise science programs earn well over $100,000 annually, with many of the graduates working in management and high-level positions. For example, the Vice President/Director of Sport Performance for this past years MLB World Series and NFL Super Bowl Championship teams are exercise science program alumni of PennWest Global Online (formerly California University or Cal U)

Sport Coaches / Strength & Conditioning Coaches

Employment is expected to grow 20% through 2031, faster than average for all occupations. An increasing emphasis on youth, high school, college, and other amateur sports will require more knowledgeable coaches in areas of fitness, strength, performance, sport science, sport psychology, and nutrition. Numbers of staff members in professional and collegiate sports are also expanding with a greater emphasis on injury prevention and post-event recovery. Strength & Conditioning/ Performance Coaches for college or professional sports teams need to have advanced understanding of fitness, functional sport training, corrective exercise, wellness, applied sport science, sport psychology, and several other keys areas.

  • Typical entry-level education for a sport coach and/or strength & conditioning coach is a bachelor's degree, however a specialized master's degree in exercise science can help lead to specialized coaching duties at higher levels of competition.

Don’t have a degree in exercise science but want to pursue your bachelor’s degree?

Learn more about PennWest’s Online Bachelor’s in Exercise Science.
Have a bachelor’s degree and now want to earn your graduate degree in exercise science?

Learn more about PennWest’s Online Master’s in Exercise Science.

Fitness and Wellness Business Owners

Many fitness and health professionals aspire to own their personal business focusing on personal training, sport performance enhancement training, golf performance training, wellness coaching, nutritional counseling, and/or many other unique business options

  • An exercise science bachelor’s or master's degree, providing important education in business practices, entrepreneurship, leadership, management, etc., can lead to significant increases in income and success as a business owner
  • Many graduates of PennWest Global Online’s (formerly California University or Cal U) exercise science programs earn substantial annual income, focusing on business ventures in fitness and wellness. For example, the Owner/Founder of a large, very successful fitness company in NYC and the Owner/Creator of a nationally acclaimed fitness podcast series are exercise science program alumni of PennWest Global Online (formerly California University or Cal U)


Golf Performance Coaches/Trainers

Employment in this field has grown rapidly over the past decade with total rounds of golf played in the US increasing by more than 15% since 2019. Recreational golfers have seen, and duplicated, the positive impact of fitness and conditioning in improving professional golfers performance. Recreational golfers seek out professionals who can enhance their golf performance and educate them on how to prevent injury. If you enjoy developing performance, fitness, and injury prevention plans for golfers, this is the field for you.

  • A master's degree program in Advanced Golf Performance helps exercise science professionals advance in their careers and give a competitive advantage in the field.
  • Many golf performance professionals work at country clubs, sport performance centers, or other fitness centers.
  • In partnership with Technogym, a leading international fitness equipment and education company, PennWest Global Online’s (formerly California University or Cal U) exercise science graduate program offers a concentration in Advanced Golf Performance Training, preparing graduates to be highly respected and sought-after Golf Performance Specialists

Wellness/Health Coaches

Employment in this field is expected to grow 17% through 2030, faster than most careers in the United States. If you enjoy coaching and educating others regarding wellness and health, as well as developing wellness plans that help patients prevent and recover from injuries and acute & chronic disease, this is the field for you.

  • According to the Kresser Institute, “Health coaching is playing a critical role in the future of medicine and the reinvention of healthcare. Health coaching is now a $7 billion market
  • A master's degree program helps Wellness/Health Coaches advance in their careers and give a competitive advantage in the field.
  • According to an International Coaching Federation study in 2016, “coach practitioners, a designation that excludes athletic or sports coaches, reported an average annual income from coaching of about $61,900”.
  • Graduates of PennWest University’s (formerly California University- Cal U) exercise science program concentrations in Wellness Coaching, Nutrition, & Wellness & Fitness often choose to pursue their careers in Health/Wellness Coaching. For example, several nationally acclaimed Wellness Coaches earned their Wellcoaches Certification and graduate degree from PennWest Global Online (formerly California University or Cal U)

Tactical Strength & Conditioning Coaches / Facilitators

According to the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA), “Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitators® (TSAC-F®)” apply scientific knowledge to physically train military, fire and rescue, law enforcement, protective services, and other emergency personnel to improve performance, promote wellness, and decrease injury risk”.

  • Employment in TSAC professions is expected to growth significantly due to the great demand for keeping our military and first responders in excellent physical shape and to prevent on-the-job injuries
  • Graduates of PennWest Global Online’s (formerly California University or Cal U) exercise science programs earn considerable annual income, while working with military and first responders. For example, several hundred active duty and reserve military personnel, many in charge of fitness & conditioning programs for our nations soldiers, are exercise science program alumni of PennWest Global Online (formerly California University or Cal U)

What kind of jobs can you get with an exercise science degree?

Earning your online exercise science degree at PennWest California will open up numerous opportunities to start or advance in many occupations and related career fields. Here’s a checklist of potential career pathways (NOTE: Some of these career pathways may require additional education):

  • Group Fitness / Aerobics Instructor
  • Medical Fitness Specialist
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist
  • Entrepreneur
  • Exercise Physiologist
  • Golf Performance Coach / Trainer
  • Fitness and/or Wellness Consultant
  • Gym Manager or Owner
  • Health Care Consultant
  • Health Educator
  • Kinesiologist
  • Military Fitness Instructor
  • Personal Trainer
  • Fitness Equipment / Sporting Goods Sales Rep
  • Sport Science Expert
  • Sports Coach
  • Sports Facility Manager
  • Sports Performance Enhancement Specialist
  • Sports Psychologist
  • Sports Nutritionist
  • Strength and Conditioning Coach
  • Tactical Strength & Conditioning Facilitator / Coach
  • University Professor
  • Health / Wellness Coach
  • Wellness Coordinator

How much money can you make with a degree in exercise science?

Exercise science, fitness, wellness, and sport performance industries are big business and require highly educated professionals to help the industries continue to evolve. As one example, in a recent report, Allied Market Research analyzed the Sports Training Market.  The report states ‘the Sports Training Market Size was valued at $11.00 billion in 2021, and is estimated to reach $18.85 billion by 2031. The word “sports training” is used in the sporting context to refer to the process of getting athletes ready for their best possible performance. Sports training is a comprehensive, scientific, and organized method of preparing athletes for elite levels of athletic performance.”

Based on reports like these, thousands of highly educated professionals will be required to sustain and grow the exercise science, fitness, wellness, and sport performance industries. If salary is the driving factor behind your decision to work in the fitness career, then there are a wide variety of pay scales within the industry. Entry-level fitness trainers can make around $45,000-$60,000, managers / supervisors in the $80,000-$150,000 range, while being the CEO of a gym chain or owner of a fitness/wellness company can net an average salary of $1-$5 million.

It is important to find the aspect of the industry in which you most enjoy and feel most comfortable working in. Your salary options are relatively endless depending on the career path you would like to pursue. These salaries are really just the beginning of options available. The sport science industry is expected to grow 10% through 2028 to serve aging populations and the increased interest in healthy living.

100% Online Exercise Science Degree Options at PennWest California

Choosing PennWest California for undergraduate or graduate study in exercise science is an important first step to unlocking excellent career opportunities for your future. Earning an online exercise science degree expands your skillset and increases your career opportunities whether you choose to work in Pennsylvania, across the country or even around the world. Exercise science students at PennWest enroll from all 50 states, and from more than 20 countries from the Bahamas to Switzerland. We’re also pleased to welcome students in military service worldwide.

For twenty years, PennWest Global Online is a nationally respected leader for outstanding online exercise science bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs. PennWest Global Online offers you excellent options:

  • Forty-five different graduate degree concentrations and dual concentrations in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, plus specialized certificates.
  • A three-year fully online bachelors undergraduate degree in Exercise Science. Most of our students complete the bachelor’s degree in two years or less when transferring previously earned college credits
  • Pathways to prepare for certification in exercise science.
  • Affordable and convenient study online.

Graduates of PennWest California’s online degree programs in exercise science are successful professionals in athletics, fitness, health and wellness, healthcare and many other related fields. You’ll find PennWest Global Online exercise science alumni in a wide range of top jobs at leading employers, including:

  • Top fitness companies such as LA Fitness, LifeTime Fitness, Equinox
  • Professional sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, NHL)
  • More than 50 major sports teams (Boston Celtics to L.A. Rams)
  • Leading hospitals and healthcare systems
  • Military leaders in health and fitness
  • Private business entrepreneurs
We’re ready to help you take your next step to earn your bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate exercise science degree fully online. Apply now!