A bachelor's degree program in Exercise Science includes studies in biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, with a specific emphasis on nutrition and kinesiology, the study of human movement. Bachelor's degrees in exercise science can prepare students to pursue fitness certifications or graduate studies in medicine or exercise science.
Personal Trainer Certification
An exercise science degree is not required to pursue a career as a personal trainer or exercise instructor. Depending on the program, the minimum requirements usually involve being at least 18 years of age and possessing a high school diploma. However, an exercise science degree program provides a background in the knowledge and abilities required for a training or instruction career, and allows greater competitiveness in the field. Personal trainers design and implement exercise programs for healthy individuals, while group exercise instructors can supervise and lead instructional exercise sessions.
Exercise Physiologist Certification
The American College of Sports Medicine offers an additional level of certification for instructors with a bachelor's in Exercise Science and CPR certification. The Certified Exercise Physiologist or EP-C certification -- formerly the Health Fitness Specialist or HFS certification -- qualifies you to open your own fitness establishment or work as a trainer in corporate and educational settings or human performance laboratories. You can also perform fitness screenings and help develop exercise plans and fitness regimens for individuals with medical issues.
Graduate Level Exercise Science and Fitness
Bachelor's degrees in exercise science can also prepare you for master's or doctoral level studies in exercise-related fields. Physical and occupational therapists focus on using their knowledge of the human body and its systems to improve quality of life or treat issues of physical pain or movement, and both professions require a master's degree or doctorate. In the United States, a chiropractor is also required to have graduate level study from an accredited chiropractic college. Chiropractors specialize in disorders of the skeletal and nervous systems, particularly the spine. Exercise science students who want to become registered pharmacists or dietitians may pursue graduate degrees in Clinical Nutrition or Dietetics.
Since exercise science focuses on many important areas of biology and biochemistry, a bachelor's degree in the field may allow you to pursue a more traditional route in medicine. Students who have done well in the exercise field may pursue a career as a physician or physician's assistant, both of which require additional graduate work. In addition, the medical background of the exercise science degree can prepare a student to pursue other healthcare careers, such as paramedic, dental hygienist or massage therapist.