Graduates of kinesiology programs work in education, sports and fitness occupations. These occupations do not come with six-figure salaries, but performing a targeted job search for the highest-paying employers and locations significantly increases your earning potential. For those looking for even higher salaries, a kinesiology degree prepares you for graduate work leading to some of the highest-paying professions in the nation.
Physical Education Teacher
Physical education departments at elementary, middle and high schools represent some the largest employers of kinesiology graduates. These positions are also some of the highest-paying jobs available in the field without seeking further education. Elementary and secondary school teachers, including physical education teachers, earn an average of approximately $57,000 per year. These figures vary dramatically by location. The top-paying states in the nation, which include New York, Rhode Island and California, pay between $69,000 and $74,000 per year. Physical education teachers in public schools need to be licensed by the state. Requirements for licensure may include general and subject licensure exams and supervised student teaching.
Fitness trainers work in groups or one-on-one to motivate and instruct clients on proper physical fitness theory and exercises. The national average salary for fitness trainers is approximately $37,000. The best locations for earning a top salary as a fitness trainer are the greater New York and the San Francisco Bay areas, with salaries in these areas falling between $52,000 and $66,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment to grow by 24 percent between 2010 and 2020, making fitness training an in-demand career.
Coaches earn an average salary of approximately $36,000 per year. Universities employ the greatest number of well-paid coaches, with well over 30,000 college coaches nationwide. These coaches earn approximately $50,000 per year. The BLS expects employment for coaches to grow by 29 percent between 2010 and 2020, making it one of the fastest-growing fields for kinesiology majors. For high school coaches, the best opportunities exist for those who are also certified to teach in an academic subject. The best opportunities for college coaches are in women's sports.
Kinesiology graduates are well prepared for advanced study, which leads to a number of high-paying careers. Among the most popular options is a doctorate or master's in physical therapy. These programs last from two to three years, after which students typically participate in a residency of nine to 36 months. All this additional work adds up to an average annual salary of approximately $76,000. Other good graduate programs for kinesiology students include sports medicine, sports psychology and exercise physiology.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Kindergarten and Elementary Teacher
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: High School Teachers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Secondary School Teacher Wages
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Fitness Instructors
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Fitness Instructor Wages
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Coaches
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Coach Wages
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physical Therapists
- University of North Texas: Your Future in Kinesiology
Jon Gjerde worked as a journalist in northern California where he covered topics ranging from city, county and tribal governments to alternative transportation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of California, Davis.