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Is a Degree in Exercise Science or Pre-Physical Therapy Right for You?

Many students today are considering a career in the exercise science or pre-physical therapy field. Exercise science is a relatively new field that has quickly taken off in recent years, especially for students with a passion for helping others to change their health and lifestyle habits. Although an exercise science degree is newer, the concept isn’t. In fact, it has been around for ages. Luckily for prospective students, there are a plethora of career opportunities available for exercise science majors, and the career outlook is still projected to grow. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment opportunities for exercise science majors are projected to increase by over 13% between 2020 and 2030, which is significantly higher than the industry average.

What is Exercise Science?

So, what exactly is exercise science? According to the National Library of Medicine, it’s the scientific study of human movement that is performed to maintain and improve overall physical fitness. In other words, it’s the study of how our bodies respond under stress, such as from exercising or other strenuous activity. Typically, those who pursue an education in the exercise science field pursue a career as an athletic trainer, fitness consultant, strength trainer, or something within the realm of exercise.

Typically exercise science has a primary focus in a few different verticals of study, such as:

  • Health and fitness
  • Kinesiology
  • Exercise physiology
  • Nutrition
  • Biomechanics

Each of these verticals presents its own set of unique coursework and challenges for students, which is why you can expect to have a strong educational foundation in physiology, chemistry, biology, anatomy, and physics. Each of those areas of study equally contributes to your overall education in the exercise science field.

Questions to Ask Yourself

How do you know if pursuing a degree in exercise science is right for you? There are a few questions that you should ask yourself prior to launching yourself full force into your education in the exercise science field.

1. Do you like to help people?

The first important question to ask yourself is whether you have a passion for helping others. If the answer is anywhere in the realm of yes, then an exercise science degree may be a great career option for you. Exercise science is a combination of a passion for helping others, exercise, and general acts of service. It’s all about taking the skills and knowledge you obtained throughout your education and helping others to improve upon their overall health and fitness goals to become healthier, both through exercise and rehabilitation. While answering this question, it’s important to think about the unique reasons as to why you want to get into the exercise science field, as they could be determining factors as to which exact career path you will follow upon graduation.

2. Where do you want to go to school?

After determining that exercise science is the right major for you, it’s also important to consider what school you plan to attend. While weighing your available options, you may consider a range of different things depending on what is most important to you throughout your education.

For instance, is location a determining factor for you? If so, you need to decide which setting best suits you and what you’d like to have in the surrounding vicinity throughout your schooling.

For others, the location may not play as integral of a role in their school choice as the curriculum and learning styles provided by the school. Many students today learn better hands-on, and for that reason, they may decide to attend a school that provides a large amount of hands-on education and training opportunities. For example, Berry College provides an exercise science pre-physical therapy degree that gives students four years of paid, mentored, and professional development experience on campus, as well as internship opportunities. 

3. What type of job do you hope to do once you get your degree?

Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to also consider the future career outlook and types of jobs available for students with an exercise science degree. Luckily, there is a wide range of different career paths for those who pursue a degree in exercise science such as, but not limited to, the following:

  • Personal trainer
  • Athletic trainer
  • Physical therapist
  • Exercise physiologist
  • Physical education teacher

Each of these careers presents its own set of unique rewards and challenges; however, ultimately, it’s up to you to determine which career path best suits you and your specific interests. 

There are a lot of different things to consider when determining if a degree in exercise science is the right fit for you. However, if you have a passion for helping others, as well as an overall passion for health and fitness, exercise science and pre-physical therapy could lead to great career opportunities. The first step is to determine what the right school is for you!

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