Are you a university kinesiology student or graduate wondering what's next? Are you keen to practice kinesiology as soon as possible?
There are a few critical steps between graduation and work. Once you get specific experience, coursework and your registration together you'll be ready to work as a kinesiologist.
Why kinesiology is a rewarding career
Before we get into the specifics of how to become a kinesiologist, let's briefly explore why this is such a rewarding profession. Working as a kinesiologist, you'll have the opportunity to help people move better and improve their quality of life.
Knowing that you've helped someone achieve something they didn't think was possible, whether it's recovering from an injury or reaching a fitness goal, is hugely satisfying. Kinesiology is a rapidly growing field, and there are many different career paths.
What does a kinesiologist do
A kinesiologist is a health professional who specializes in human movement and body mechanics. Kinesiologists work with people of all ages and abilities to help them move better, prevent injuries, and improve their overall health and well-being.
Kinesiologists use a variety of techniques such as postural assessment and resistance training to assess movement patterns, identify movement dysfunctions, and design individualized programs to correct these dysfunctions. Ergonomics, strength and conditioning, athletic therapy, active release and rehabilitation are all within the scope of practice of a registered kinesiologist with appropriate training.
You might be wondering if your kinesiology degree provides you with all the skills and qualifications needed to work as a kinesiologist. Here are a few key steps before you can start practicing, including registration.
Simple step by step process to become a kinesiologist
What education do you need?
Kinesiology programs and degrees are offered at many universities across Canada. They typically include a mix of coursework in human physiology, anthropometry, biomechanics, injury rehab, exercise programming.
Some universities offer courses in athletic taping, strength and conditioning and nutrition. Students aiming to become a kinesiologist should consider these courses because they are strongly applicable in the field. See the Top 5Kinesiology Schools in Canada here.
University kinesiology programs are normally aligned with the requirements to register with your provincial kinesiology organization. Check these requirements with your kinesiology organization to make sure your university will prepare to work as a Registered Kinesiologist. If you're interested in a career in the field, there are a few additional steps you'll need to take.
Additional certifications and experience during university
To prepare yourself to work as a kinesiologist you will find it helpful to have some additional experience during your undergraduate degree, including co-op programs, volunteer work with local organizations, volunteer/paid work with sports teams and shadowing professional kinesiologists.
Co-op programs and work-study programs are available through many university kinesiology departments. These programs tend to result in a longer degree (5 years), but you'll finish with very relevant experience. In some cases co-ops lead directly to an ongoing job.
Volunteer work is one of the best things you can do while in University to enhance your nascent resume and show future employers you can apply yourself. As a bonus, volunteering (or working) for a sports team allows you to apply your health and fitness knowledge.
Extra-curricular courses for university
Outside of university kinesiology programs, there are a few other ways to become more qualified towards becoming a kinesiologist. Make sure to keep up to date with your First Aid and CPR/AED, in-service learning and networking with clinicians.
First Aid and CPR/AED isn't technically required by most kinesiology associations, but it is commonly expected by employers in health. It is easily acquired through the Red Cross, sometimes as a weekend course.
In-services are private education sessions delivered between professionals. These sessions are very focused and make useful learning opportunities by teaching tangible techniques for use on specific types of clients.
Useful in-services might be led by doctors, physiotherapists or practicing kinesiologists but finding them is the challenge. If you’re already at a clinic, attend what is available. You can also ask clinics or practitioners you are connected to if they know of any coming up.
This is also an excellent pretext to form connections with more health practitioners in your area. These folks will help you make invaluable professional relationships and may also help you find clients and even land a job.
Apply with your kinesiology association/college
Once your university degree is complete, it's time to apply with your kinesiology association or regulatory college. The application process will vary depending on which province you live in, but the general steps are as follows:
- Complete an online application
- Submit transcripts
- Pay the application fee
- Write the required exams (only required in Canada for the College of Kinesiology of Ontario)
- Complete a criminal record check
There is usually a waiting period for approval from your association, especially if you are applying after graduation. Make sure to build lead time into your career plan if you’re looking for summer work requiring you to be registered.
Kinesiology is an exciting and rewarding career, and with these steps you'll be on your way to helping others achieve their health and fitness goals. You can read more in our blog 3 tips to get you Started on your Kinesiology Career