Online Fitness Specialist Degrees

As a fitness specialist, you help clients reach better health and well-being -- and you could end up reaping the benefits of physical exercise yourself. A fitness specialist assesses fitness; prescribes an exercise, nutritional and training regimen; and applies behavioral and motivational strategies to help people reach their goals. Areas of expertise in the field include personal training, group exercise and fitness management.

Fitness specialist: training and education

Non-degree certificates and associate degrees may offer entry-level opportunities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more health and fitness employers now require at least a bachelor's degree in a related field. General health studies at different levels may offer a physical fitness specialist concentration. Most campus or online fitness specialist degree programs require an internship or practical component that is available only in person.

Related four-year degrees encompass a variety of programs, for example:

  • Exercise physiology
  • Exercise science
  • Performance enhancement
  • Rehabilitation science
  • Wellness and fitness

At the graduate level, online fitness specialist degree programs might cover kinesiology or ergonomics. Many master's degree programs target those interested in fitness management. For a doctorate, online fitness specialist degrees could focus on human performance or kinesiology. Advanced degrees could lead to research in topics such as clinical biomechanics, exercise physiology, motor control and sport management, as well as college teaching or positions at the upper levels of the fitness industry.

Current fitness specialists can expand their credentials by earning certifications offered by professional fitness organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine, or ACSM.

Fitness specialist: career prospects and salaries

The BLS reports a 2010 median salary for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors of $31,090, with projected employment growth of 29 percent between 2008 and 2018 for fitness workers in general. In a survey on the top fitness trends for 2012, the ACSM found growing demand for the following:

  1. Educated and experienced fitness specialists
  2. Strength training and core training
  3. Fitness training for senior citizens and obese children
  4. Personal training for individuals and groups
  5. Zumba and other dance workouts

Students in on-campus or online fitness specialist degree programs may want to focus their studies on these high-demand areas. Potential employers include health clubs, gyms, corporate and community wellness programs, and post-rehab facilities. As a fitness specialist, you can seek a variety of careers, such as personal trainer, group exercise instructor, club manager or fitness director.

Fitness Specialist Schools

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