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10 Highest Paying Fitness Degrees Top Paying Fitness-Related Majors

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If you love playing sports, doing exercise, and generally staying active, then you should consider turning your love of fitness into a career. We live in an era of heightened awareness of the importance of fitness. People from all walks of life are desperate to stay in shape, and many want professional assistance to help them reach their goals. By studying to become a fitness expert, you can make a decent living while helping the people around you improve their physical and mental well-being.

There’s no single degree that aspiring fitness professionals need to pursue. In fact, universities around the country offer a wide variety of fitness-related programs, any of which could set you up for a successful career. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what type of program matches your interests, goals, and expectations.

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The fitness industry is constantly growing, and there’s always a demand for experts in coaching, personal training, and physical education. Once you’ve got your fitness-related degree, you can count on finding plenty of opportunities for someone with your knowledge and skills.

Obtaining a degree in a fitness-related field is a great way to set yourself up for a successful, rewarding career. Not only will you help people achieve their fitness goals, but you’ll bring home a decent salary while doing it. If this sounds like the perfect life for you, consider pursuing one of the following degrees.

1. Exercise Science

For many people, exercising is a relatively mindless activity. All you have to do is head outside, start running, and let yourself fall into a groove. It’s worth remembering, however, that all sorts of exciting things are happening in the body as you go through your workout. The human body is an incredible apparatus, and it’s at its best when in motion. If you’d like to learn about how the body responds to fitness training, exercise science might be the perfect major.

As its name suggests, exercise science is a major that involves a lot of science-based courses. You’ll study biology and physiology, learning how the body operates and what makes it run properly. You’ll also focus on kinesiology, or the study of the body in motion. These courses will give you a comprehensive understanding of exercise’s physical effects.

Most exercise science programs stray from hard science courses to offer additional material on sports nutrition, fitness training, and rehabilitation. These are the classes that will show you how to apply all you’ve learned in your science-based courses. With such a well-rounded structure, exercise science programs teach you everything you need to know before entering the fitness industry.

A degree in exercise science is relatively versatile, opening doors across the world of fitness. The most obvious option is to work as a personal trainer. People will pay decent hourly rates for personalized instruction, and your education will give you the comprehensive knowledge you need to impress clients. You could also leverage your exercise science degree into a career as an athletic trainer. Your classes will give you an up-close look at common sports-related injuries, and your expertise can help athletes respond and recover after an accident.

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2. Kinesiology

First and foremost, exercise involves the rigorous movement of the human body. Any fitness-related activity, from running a marathon to playing a friendly game of badminton, requires the constant movement of joints, muscles, and tissues. All this action, in turn, puts strain on the body’s internal organs. If you’ve ever wondered exactly what’s going on in the human body when all this action is taking place, then you’re bound to enjoy a kinesiology degree.

Kinesiology is defined as the study of body movement. A kinesiology degree’s courses will generally cover physiology, biology, and how exercise affects the human body. You’ll study the science behind motor skills, learning exactly how a person can improve their hand-eye coordination. You’ll also work with longitudinal studies showing how exercise can affect a person’s life trajectory. All this information will make you a stronger advocate for fitness.

Kinesiology majors often take specialized courses in specific subfields. Women’s health is a prominent subject, giving students the detailed insight they’ll need to help female clients in the future. You can also take courses on fitness leadership, which will help you inspire your future clients to be the best versions of themselves.

Having graduated with your kinesiology degree, you’ll have a wide variety of fitness-related careers to choose from. Many degree holders become physical trainers, using their knowledge of the human body to treat athletes who get injured in action. Others enter the physical education field, helping students learn more about their bodies so they can grow into healthy adults. You can also use the degree to become a fitness trainer or exercise physiologist as clients will likely be impressed by your credentials. Whichever route you choose, you can count on your kinesiology degree to provide you with plenty of opportunities.

3. Athletic Training

Sports are great for promoting a healthy lifestyle. They teach people the value of teamwork, encourage regular exercise, and serve as a constant source of joy. While sports have an unquestionably positive impact on a person’s life, they can also cause injuries. Contact sports like football and soccer are bound to produce collisions, and even non-contact sports can lead to muscle pulls, tissue strains, and other ailments. When an athlete finds themselves in pain, they need a professional they can count on to address the injury and oversee rehabilitation. If you’re interested in both fitness and medicine, you could fill this role by becoming an athletic trainer.

Many universities offer a specific degree in athletic training. In these programs, you’ll learn the ins and outs of sports medicine. General classes cover the basics of biology, physiology, and kinesiology. This is where you’ll gain an in-depth understanding of how the human body responds to physical activity. You’ll also take classes on practical topics like first aid and CPR, putting you in the position to assist ailing athletes and even save lives.

After graduation, most athletic training majors take the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Board of Certification exam. Once you’ve secured this certification, you can work as an athletic trainer in a wide variety of settings. Most schools have sports programs, and they need trainers to look after their student-athletes. Some rec centers and gyms also hire full-time trainers to assist clients with their injuries. If you’re exceptionally committed to your craft, you could even become a trainer for sports teams at the collegiate and professional levels. With such a useful degree in your back pocket, you have every reason to be ambitious.

4. Physical Education

Education is almost always a rewarding field, allowing teachers to pass their knowledge and wisdom on to younger generations. Teaching is especially satisfying if you’re passionate about the subject you’re covering. If you happen to be a fitness fanatic, then you’re sure to enjoy life as a physical education teacher. Every day, you’ll leave work knowing you helped inspire children to stay active and be the healthiest versions of themselves. If such a rewarding profession sounds like the key to a happy life, consider studying physical education.

Coursework for a physical education degree revolves around childhood development and exercise science. You’ll learn about how a child’s body grows with age, focusing especially on motor skills. Some classes will examine anatomy and kinesiology, giving you the scientific background you’ll need to really understand what’s going on with your students’ bodies. You’ll also discuss practical concerns like coaching methods and classroom management. All of this will give you the background you need to succeed in an educational environment.

As you can imagine, most physical education majors go on to become PE teachers at the elementary school, middle school, and high school levels. Any of these jobs can be rewarding, but you should think carefully about which age group would suit your personality before applying. While a career in education is the obvious choice after graduation, there are other jobs you could pursue. Some physical education majors decide to become coaches, funneling their general knowledge toward a particular sport or activity.

5. Health Sciences

Keeping a person healthy is a complicated endeavor. The human body is remarkably complex, and breakthroughs arrive every year that further our understanding. To improve health on the individual and societal levels, we need a large number of professionals who have been trained in the science behind human health. Some of these professionals pursue fitness-related careers, working as physical therapists, sports nutritionists, or personal trainers. If you’re a science-minded person with an interest in fitness, health sciences could be the perfect field of study.

Health is a wide, varied subject, so it’s no surprise a health sciences program includes courses in many different areas. Some classes will focus on anatomy and physiology, giving you a basic understanding of the human body. Others explore general principles of mental health and holistic well-being. You’ll also take practical courses touching on nutrition, injury prevention, and rehabilitation.

Graduating with a perfect combination of theoretical and practical knowledge, you’ll be well placed for a career in the fitness industry. Many health science graduates go on to complete a doctorate degree in physical therapy, the final step on the road toward becoming a fully certified physical therapist. Others pursue jobs as sports nutritionists, advising athletes on the best ways to replenish and enhance their bodies. You could also parlay your knowledge of the body into a successful career as a fitness instructor. Each of these jobs is quite distinct from the others, demonstrating the versatility of a health sciences degree.

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6. Sports and Fitness Administration

While the sports and fitness industry requires lots of experts working with participants on the ground, it also needs educated administrators who can help take care of logistics from above. Planning events, organizing calendars, and managing facilities are difficult tasks, but they’re also rewarding. As the participants enjoy their activities, the administrator can revel in the knowledge that their hard work made everything possible. If you think you’d enjoy being in charge of fitness-related events and organizations, then a sports and fitness administration degree could set you up for a rewarding, lucrative career.

An undergraduate program in sports and fitness administration provides students with a variety of coursework in disparate fields. Many of the classes are practical, including such offerings as sports event planning and sports marketing practices. Others, including sports ethics and sports economics, are more theoretical. All these classes will combine to give you an in-depth understanding of the sports and fitness industry.

Countless institutions across the country organize athletic activities, and your sports and fitness administration degree will give you the credentials you need to work for many of them. You could become a sporting event planner, helping an organization bring a planned set of activities to fruition. You could also work as a sports facility manager, overseeing a park, gym, or field complex. As you gain experience in the field, you could even land a job as an athletic director, a position that puts you in charge of a school’s entire sporting operation. Wherever your career takes you, you’ll be able to thank your sports and fitness administration degree for giving you the knowledge and expertise you need.

7. Leisure Facilities Management

Leisure isn’t always a term we associate with fitness, but many so-called leisure facilities are used primarily for exercise. Take, for example, a public rec center. Most of the visitors use the space to play sports, jog, or take part in other physical activities with friends. These facilities can only thrive with proper management, which makes administrators the unsung heroes of the general fitness movement. If you’re interested in management and want to promote the physical well-being of the population, a degree in leisure facilities management could be the perfect option.

A leisure facilities management program focuses on the fundamentals of operating a leisure-based organization or institution. You’ll study general topics, such as business management and customer service, as well as more specific material that relates to the fitness industry. From the ins and outs of maintaining equipment to the structure of an effective budget, you’ll learn everything there is to know about managing a leisure facility. This unique major will give you a distinct advantage as you seek jobs in the fitness industry.

A degree in leisure facilities management is ideal if you want to become the manager of a gym or fitness center. Your coursework will prepare you perfectly for all the moving parts involved in such an operation. You could also pursue a career as an outdoor activities coordinator, overseeing events for schools, non-profit organizations, and even municipalities. If you go on to become a fitness expert, you could also work as a personal trainer and use your administrative background to grow your business.

8. Parks and Recreation

Municipalities, community projects, and non-governmental organizations can all promote fitness by managing parks and fostering recreation. From the city parks where young people play basketball to the senior centers where the elderly gather for leisurely walks, countless fitness-related facilities require expert management. By learning how these institutions operate, you can do your part to build a healthier, more active society. A degree in parks and recreation is a great way to start down this path.

An undergraduate parks and recreation program will include a wide variety of coursework, all of which should prepare you to oversee and manage fitness-related activities. Some classes will focus on park management, giving you a general look at how public spaces operate. More specific courses on conflict resolution and interpersonal communications will prepare you for the nitty-gritty of managing a facility. Some programs even include fitness courses, which will set you up to lead training sessions and take a more active role in everyday activities. All the material you discuss in your courses should prove useful if you go on to work in the fitness industry.

A degree in parks and recreation is relatively general, leaving you with plenty of options as you head out into the workforce. One option is to become a public facility coordinator. This job would put you in charge of a public facility like a gym, park, or sports complex. Your responsibilities would likely include organizing events, establishing a weekly schedule, and maintaining a working relationship with coaches and trainers. You could also work within a municipal parks and recreation department, helping coordinate events and manage facilities. Some parks and recreation majors even go on to become youth sports coaches. What all these jobs share is an emphasis on promoting fitness and physical well-being to the general public.

9. Sports Studies

Sports have long held an important position in our society. For one thing, sports bring people together in ways that are overwhelmingly healthy and productive. They also promote fitness, encouraging people to move around and get the exercise their bodies need to stay healthy. Something as integral to our culture as sports certainly deserves examination, and that’s why many young people choose to pursue a degree in sports studies. If you want to understand the world of sports and fitness from an academic perspective, then this major is worth considering.

A sports studies program examines how the world of sports intersects with other aspects of society. Courses will touch on a variety of disparate subjects, from sociology to economics. Expect to intensely study topics like sports theory and sports psychology, both of which will deepen your understanding of what it means to be an athlete. You’ll also take an in-depth look at the history of sports, a process that will broaden your perspective and allow you to place today’s discussions in context.

Sports studies is an academic field, so it’s hardly surprising that many graduates continue their studies and go on to become professors. While this academic route is certainly appealing to some, you can also use the knowledge you gain in a sports studies program to take a more hands-on role within the fitness industry. Rec centers and gyms could be interested in a candidate with such strong academic credentials. You could also become a sports communications specialist, helping organizations get their message out to the public. No matter what you end up doing after graduation, you’ll always benefit intrinsically from what you learned while studying sports.

10. Sports Management

While there are all sorts of ways to stay fit and healthy in the United States, many folks see team and individual sports as their method of choice. This is hardly surprising when you consider the excitement, fun, and camaraderie that sports often bring. If you’re looking to build a career in the world of fitness, you could learn how to manage the many organizations and institutions that oversee sports and recreation in the country. There’s no better way to obtain this specialized knowledge than by studying sports management.

Sports management programs are usually quite general, meaning you’ll learn about a wide variety of sports-related topics. Many courses focus on the ins and outs of managing a sporting organization or facility. You’ll learn how to balance a budget, interact with the media, and market a sporting institution to the public. You’ll also study the history of sports, giving you a fresh perspective on the importance of athletics in society. Such a well-rounded education will leave you plenty of options after graduation.

With a sports management degree, you can pursue a career in a number of sports-related areas. Some graduates work as athletic directors, guiding a school’s sports program while promoting wellness among the students. Others manage recreational facilities like gyms and sports complexes. If you’re ambitious, you could even pursue a career as an agent for professional athletes. While some of these careers are more lucrative than others, they’ll all place you firmly within the world of sports and fitness.

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