Having the right degree establishes your specialization as a personal trainer, setting you apart from the competition. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of personal trainers is expected to grow by 24 percent from 2010 to 2020. You can choose your niche based on personal interests, area demographics or earning potential. This niche can involve weight management, specific training styles like high-intensity interval training, sports conditioning, or working with specific groups or age ranges, such as seniors or youths.
A bachelor’s degree in nutritional science, particularly from a program emphasizing dietetics, is one niche for personal trainers. Look for a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, so that after graduation, you can take the registered dietitian exam. For example, Eastern Michigan University offers an accredited program both online and on campus.
Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing and treating muscle and bone conditions. Students work in the classroom and in clinics to learn science-related material such as bio-mechanics and human anatomy and physiology. Earning a degree in athletic training from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education is required to be eligible to sit for the Board of Certification exam. Adrian College in Michigan, for example, offers a CAATE accredited program along with a five-year combined bachelor’s and master’s program.
A degree in corporate fitness prepares students for positions in fitness, wellness and health promotion programs in community, resort and corporate business settings. The curriculum combines study of physical and health sciences with program implementation and business skills. The inclusion of marketing, human resources and business management courses increases resume flexibility. A bachelor’s degree in Wellness and Corporate Fitness from Defiance College in Ohio, for example, prepares students for a career in corporate settings.
Sports medicine deals with physical fitness treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise. Courses typically include pathology and pharmacology in sports medicine, therapeutic exercises and sports psychology. Some sports medicine degree programs qualify students to become a certified athletic trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine or the National Association of Sports Medicine. Sports medicine programs can incorporate physical and occupational therapy, medicine and kinesiology into their major offerings. Pepperdine University, for example, offers a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine.
- United States Department of Labor: Fitness Trainers and Instructors Job Outlook
- Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics: About ACEND
- Eastern Michigan University: Coordinated Program in Dietetics
- Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education: Search for Accredited Programs
- Adrian College: Athletic Training
- Defiance College: Wellness and Corporate Fitness
- Pepperdine University: Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine
Laura Harris has two Master of Science degrees and has been a collegiate biology instructor on campus and online since 2009. She has been lead faculty of health and science for University of Phoenix West Michigan since 2011. Harris also has two young girls and enjoys tae kwon do and triathlons.