How to Become an Exercise Physiologist


Those who become exercise physiologists are passionate about the health and well being of others. They are interested in helping people create exercise plans that fit within their lifestyles.


Exercise physiologists combine their interest in the health and well being of others with a thorough interest in the effects that exercise has on the body, as well as the anatomy, physiology, biology and chemistry that are responsible for causing those effects.


They also have excellent communication skills, and they must be comfortable sharing their opinions with others.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as an exercise physiologist. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Educational Requirements for Becoming an Exercise Physiologist

To become an exercise physiologist, you typically need either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in Exercise Science or related field, such as Human Kinetics, Exercise Science, or Kinesiology.


Exercise physiologists with a bachelor's degree typically work in roles that apply knowledge of human movement, such as those involving the development and implementation of exercise plans. Exercise physiologists with a bachelor’s degree may however, be more limited in their employment options versus those with a master’s degree or higher, as a graduate degree may allow exercise physiologists to be employed as lecturers and senior-level researchers in the field of exercise science, in addition to being qualified for jobs in applied exercise physiology.  


Exercise physiologists with a graduate degree may also qualify for a higher level of pay in comparison to those with a bachelor’s degree. 





More About This Career: General Job Description

Exercise physiologists study the body's response to exercise. There are specialties within the field, and different career paths that exercise physiologists can follow; some exercise physiologists work in research, while others work in the application of that research.


Exercise physiologists that work in research are responsible for furthering our understanding of the effects that exercise has on the body, as well as the anatomy, physiology, biology and chemistry that are responsible for causing those effects.


Those that work in the application of exercise physiology may have a variety of possible job descriptions, such as:


• Provide exercise and lifestyle support for people with chronic diseases

• Monitor various physical functions of athletes such as body composition, pulmonary systems, nutrition levels, metabolism and muscle mass

• Provide athletes with scientific support for performance enhancement



Typical Job Duties

• Attend local, regional and national conferences and seminars for the purpose of professional development

• Maintain current knowledge of industry developments

• Generate reports and produce longitudinal studies

• Administer fitness tests for athletes and team members in order to develop accurate physiological profiles

• Develop scientific physical training programs and monitor adherence to them

• Confer with coaching staff in order to maximize the effectiveness of training programs

• Monitor the progress of athletes and make any necessary adjustments to the workout program



Who Employs Exercise Physiologists?

Exercise physiologists work for organizations that develop and implement fitness plans for individuals or groups in the general public, or for those afflicted with various medical conditions. They are also hired by organizations involved in providing scientific support for performance enhancement, as well as those that study the science of human movement.


Organizations that hire exercise physiologists typically include:


• Athletic and sporting equipment companies

• Rehabilitation and occupational health departments

• Sport, fitness and recreation centres

• Professional and amateur sport organizations and teams

• Sport governing bodies

• Hospitals and other primary health care facilities

• Colleges and universities

• Large organizations (hire exercise physiologists to implement fitness programs)

• Self-employment





Work Environment

Setting: Exercise physiologists can work in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings, including offices, laboratories, recreation facilities, hospitals, schools and residential facilities.


Schedule: The work schedule of exercise physiologists can vary based on the responsibilities of their job. Some exercise physiologists may work normal, weekday working hours (such as those involved in research), while others may work a variety of hours, including evening and weekend hours (such as those involved in applied exercise physiology).


Working Conditions: The work of applied exercise physiologists can be physically demanding and involve lifting weights and heavy objects, in order to demonstrate and assist with exercise techniques. The work of exercise physiologists in the fields of research, education and program management may involve long hours of computer analyses, collecting data and monitoring exercise programs.



Typical Salary Level

The salary level of exercise physiologists can vary depending on factors such as their level of education, their level of experience, their specific job duties, where they work, and many others.


Exercise Physiologist Salary - Canada: According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Recreation, Sports and Fitness Program Supervisors and Consultants occupational group, which includes Exercise Physiologists, earn an average wage of between $68,890 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (July 10, 2019).


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of workers in the Exercise Physiologists occupational group is $47,610 per year. The lowest 10% of salaries in this occupational group are lower than $31,000 per year, and the top 10% of salaries are above $71,140 per year.



Current Job Opportunities

Although job opportunities in this field are rarely posted online, from time to time they will be. Have a look below to see if there’s anything listed in your area:




Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to "exercise physiologist", as they involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.



Personal Trainer



Sports Medicine Physician




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an exercise physiologist.


Occupations in Alberta:Kinesiologist.” (March 31, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 18, 2019.

Occupational Employment and Wages:Exercise Physiologists.” (March 29, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 18, 2019.

Certification:Choose CSEP for your Certification.” (n.d.). Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology website. Retrieved November 18, 2019.

Practice:Standards of Practice.” (August 22, 2018). American Society of Exercise Physiologists website. Retrieved November 18, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming an Exercise Physiologist

Scholarships that are relevant for becoming an exercise physiologist are all of those that are found on our Exercise Science Scholarships and Kinesiology Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for getting into this profession. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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