Exercise Physiologist Career

Written by Joe Cicchetto

This is third and final article in the series (see the St. Andrews University website for articles 1 and 2) of articles exploring careers for sports performance, health, and fitness majors within the exercise.  The exercise industry continues to thrive and opportunities to help people improve their health will continue to manifest in a range of diverse careers.  One career possibility is working as an Exercise Physiologist.

Where do these positions exist?  Fitness facilities employ exercise physiologists to design exercise prescriptions from populations ranging from athletes to older adults.  These professionals possess knowledge about human anatomy, exercise physiology and special exercise considerations to create individualized plans that help improve fitness levels and reduce an individual’s risk of chronic disease.  In addition, clinical exercise physiologists are trained to work with individuals with conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Education:  Someone who is working as an exercise physiologist needs to possess knowledge in human anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, training principles and proper nutrition for individuals.  These are all things learned in a bachelor’s degree in Sports Performance, Health, and Fitness.  As stated in our last  discussion, our program is designed to build foundational knowledge in your first two years, so you are prepared to apply that knowledge in your last two years.  The practical aspects of our program include our field experience class, an internship, and a national certification review class.  Each of these classes is designed to prepare you to apply the knowledge you’ve learned to “real world” settings.   The faculty that teach in the Sports Performance, Health and Fitness major possess a wide variety of experience and knowledge to help you succeed in this field!

Certifications: In addition to sound knowledge of strength and conditioning, it is necessary for someone seeking a position as an exercise physiologist to obtain a professional certification.  Certifications significantly increase your marketability for potential employers by showing that you possess competency in exercise physiology!  For an exercise physiologist , the most reputable certification is the Certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP) offered through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).  This exam covers knowledge on anatomy and physiology, exercise training and exercise physiology.

For those seeking a position as a clinical exercise physiologist, the most reputable certification is the Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-CEP) through the American College of Sports Medicine.   This certification requires 1,200 hours of hands-on clinical experience in addition to your bachelors degree.

Career Outlook:  Exercise physiologists are employed by fitness facilities, hospitals, and training facilities all over the country.  The need and growth of exercise physiologists will likely continue to grow over the next decade.  These professionals bring a higher level of quality and competency to the facilities where they are employed so they ultimately help individuals improve their health through exercise training.  Before moving into academia, I was fortunate to work as a clinical exercise physiologist.  It was a rewarding career that brought the satisfaction of knowing I was helping improve lives!

If you are interested in a career as an exercise physiologist,  Sports Performance, Health, and Fitness is a great option for your major!  Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have about the major and career field. 

 

About the author:

Professor Candace Langston is an Assistant Professor of Sports Performance, Health, and Fitness at St. Andrews University.  Additionally, she holds multiple health and exercise certifications including the Certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-CEP) and Exercise is Medicine credentials from the American College of Sports Medicine.  Prior to arriving at St. Andrews University, Professor Langston managed the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program at UNC Health Southeastern and is a past president of the North Carolina Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Association.

Professor Candace Langston